Greg Nord was there the last time the Kentucky Wildcats beat the Florida Gators. Nord, who played tight end and long snapper at Kentucky from 1974-78, returned to his alma mater in 1980 as a graduate assistant. He moved on to coach running backs from 1982-89. He was on the sideline that in Lexington in 1986, the last time Kentucky walked off the field victorious over Florida.
“That’s a long, long time ago,” Nord said on Wednesday. “I don’t know if I had any kids yet or not and I’ve got grandkids (now), so it’s been a long time. When I played there, we had a little bit of success when I was playing, but there haven’t been a lot of happy Wildcats when the Gators come into town.”
Nord was born in Louisville but graduated from Kentucky and won a SEC Championship (1976) with the Wildcats. He’s spent almost two decades in Lexington as both player and coach. He’s as knowledgeable as anybody can be about the program, the university, the streak and the where Kentucky stands when it comes to Florida.
“As far as programs growing, where we’re at now, we’re one of the elite programs in the country and they’re not,” he said. “So it probably means more to them than it does to us as far as the streak.”
The streak is the longest active winning streak over one opponent and the fourth longest all-time. It predates every player that will step on the field and probably even some graduate assistants on both teams.
The length of the streak is lost among the players. When asked this week most of them denied even knowing of the streak. “That’s crazy,” Luke Ancrum said when he was told that Florida had beat Kentucky 30 straight times. “I thought the Tennessee streak was long..”
There are three generations of Kentucky fans that don’t know what a win over Florida feels like. There’s hope, the stadium is sold out for the first time since they hosted Auburn on October 15, 2015. This is the year, they’ll say. Kentucky fans have to have hope but the weight of thirty straight losses weighs heavier on the minds and hearts of the team of Kentucky than it does of Florida.
“I mean that’s probably their Super Bowl,” Freddie Swain said. “If I lost to a team that long I’d try to win too, I mean that would be a big win, to try not to let them win.”