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August 26, fCtfO
BILL CURRY'S FAVORITE GUY
'Cat assistant head coach John Guy knows who's next to him in this foxhole
by TCP associate editor Nick Nicholas
Bill Curry respects John Guy so much that he recently promoted the 39-year-old North Carolina A&T grad to assistant head coach of the Wildcats. Thus, whenever Curry's services take him away from the Wildcat den, this Guy is in charge.
This Guy is someone who Curry can count on during the good and bad times. This is the UK coach's favorite Guy.
John Guy has been with Curry since 1981, the longest of any on the UK staff. At Georgia Tech he first worked under Curry and in 1987 the two traveled to Tuscaloosa for three successful seasons. So when Curry decided to leave Alabama for Kentucky, Guy was behind him, literally and figuratively.
"Alabama was totally, totally different from anything I've ever been exposed to," Guy, in charge of outside linebackers, defensive ends and placekickers, said. "I worked in Alabama and socialized outside the state, basically.
According to Guy, Lexington and the surrounding area offer more than his previous employer. It's definitely more his kind of town. Jazz festivals. Radio stations that suit his taste in music. A better selection of movies for his VCR. Louisville to the west, Cincinnati to the north, both under two-hour drives. And, maybe most important, a strong, but not a choking tie between the football program and the community.
Guy, whose coaching career has put him in huddles with Lawrence Taylor, Pat Swilling and Derrick Thomas to name a few, lives for afternoons on the practice field and Saturdays at the stadium.. .and those Thursday nights with assistant Larry New and his wife.
"Larry and I are kind of like brothers," he said. "Mary, his wife, is like my sister. For the last couple of years we have gone out to eat every Thursday night. We'll go eat at Mary's or usually we'll go out and pick a restaurant. It's a good time for us to be together and for Larry to be with Mary and just socialize. Everything is not always football. There are other things. Larry and I...we're different but we agree on the same things when it comes to football."
And they're both working for Curry at UK.
Following is an exclusive question-and-answer session with Kentucky assistant John Guy:
The Cats' Pause: How did you get interested in coaching?
John Guy: I had been accepted at Amherst to do some graduate work. My college coach convinced me that I probably should go into coaching and I should get a Masters degree from the University of North Carolina.
So I went to UNC with the idea that I would just get a Masters degree and not really coach. But I kind of got into it. I got my first paycheck and it wasn't like work and I've been doing it ever since.
TCP: Has it ever not been a joy to coach?
Guy: There were a couple of times when I was debating.. .1 had a chance to get an AM-CO Transmission dealership about 1978 or 1979. I thought about that but I just felt like that was really going to be like work.
I got with Coach Curry and my whole attitude about coaching...! guess what happen-
ed was when I coached at North Carolina I got used to winning and then I went to Duke and I didn't like the feeling of losing. Then I went to Georgia Tech and then I liked the approach to coaching.
TCP: So, Coach Curry was a major influence with you staying in coaching?
Guy: Yes. He's been really a force in my life, professionally and personally.
TCP: Were there second thoughts about leaving Alabama to come to Kentucky?
Guy: Nope. I told Coach Curry from the moment he mentioned it—if Kentucky is where he wanted to come I would be with him if he wanted me. There wasn't a second thought at all.
A lot of times people can move on to better situations and better jobs. That's OK too if that's what you want to do. But I believe you have to work for a guy who is going to have you as a person, as a part of his concern and a part of his purpose. I've felt like that ever since I've been with him I've grown as a football coach and I've grown personally.
I just recently served an internship with the Pittsburgh Steelers, which the NFL has as a minority coaching opportunity. There were a lot of head coaches who did not allow their black assistant coaches to participate. I'm fortunate to work with a guy who understands an individual's personal goals, and he allowed me to do that.
TCP: When did you partake in the Steelers' internship?
Guy: I did it during the middle of July and the first of August for about two-and-a-half weeks. He allowed me to do that also. I worked with the inside and outside linebackers. That was a great opportunity for me.
TCP: What's the First thing that comes to your mind when mentioning Bill Curry?
Guy: I just see a total person. I see well-roundedness. I see a guy who will keep his word. I see a guy who never lays blame or makes excuses; he just admits it and goes on. What you see in him is what you get.
TCP: Let's talk about John Guy's social life in Lexington.
Guy: I'm single; I've gone out with the same girl for a while. She doesn't live here, she lives out of town. This is my sixth college I've coached at. I'm in the coaching business and each move to me has been a professional move and it hasn't been a move where I've tried to make it a social move.
When I lived in Atlanta, my social life was too much a factor. I decided that this is what I want to do, so this is a professional move. I'm not here to socialize or anything like that. I'm here to develop young men and develop myself.
TCP: How difficult is it today to be married and coach football?
Guy: I don't think it's tough. You just have to have a special woman. The coaches who are married, happily married, understand what the wife has to go through, and the wife has an understanding what the coach goes through. From what I've seen in my 18 years of coaching, where there is great communication and understanding there is a great relationship.
I'm kind of a frustrated psychologist (Guy has a Bachelors degree in psychology), so I
John Guy (above) credits former Wildcat football player, the late Tommy Harper, for a better understanding of people.
study behavior more than anything. Usual- accessibility—one hour and 15 minutes. I like ly, communication and understanding are the that, key.
TCP: What things do you like about Lexington?
Guy: I like the accessibility. There are a lot of cultural things in this town. There are class people here. They are friendly people. There are just so many different things.
I like the fact that the University of Kentucky is such a part of the city of Lexington. I've been in towns where athletics were totally separate from the city. And I've been in a city where it just swallowed the institution. But this is a great chemistry between the city and the university.
TCP: Is there a point where a city can engulf a university?
Guy: Sure, I think so. If you live in a pro sports town—usually that's going to be a huge city—the college is sometimes engulfed by so many "other" things. Here, you can still get that college town feeling, but at the same time...I'm into live entertainment, good music, cultural things and there is such a great avenue (in Lexington). I remember here in the spring there were three different jazz art festivals I attended. In one town I lived in I never had the opportunity (to go) because it just wasn't there. I went to see a live entertainment of Tuck and Patfi, who are two of my favorite musicians, right here in Lexington. There have been art festivals. I'm kind of "into" that. I like the accessibility of being able to go to a city like Louisville as a change of pace or going to Cincinnati. I haven't gone to Cincinnati. But it's there, the
TCP: Let's go back a few years during your days at North Carolina as an assistant coach. What do you remember about playing against Kentucky in the Peach Bowl?
Guy: First, it was cold. Second, Kentucky had great players. We thought we had pretty good players at the time, but Kentucky had great players who played hard. They beat us. And then we opened up the next year (at UK). I felt like we had a chance to win that game. We had a turnover late in the game. We felt we had just as good a team, but we made a mistake and Kentucky took advantage of it. They had a great team then.
The '70s were kind of a formative time period for me in coaching. I first got surrounded by a lot of old coaches, they weren't old but they were older coaches (Guy smiles) with a wealth of knowledge and experience. A lot of 'em now are head coaches or coordinators at big-time football schools or are coaching in pro football. They laid a big foundation for me, the things I believe in.
TCP: The huge UK gathering that followed the '76 team to the Peach has been well-documented. Is that something you remember from that particular day?
Guy: The two schools were so similar-there were two blues. It was just college football. I do remember a huge turnout here ('77 opener).
I remember a huge turnout in Atlanta. I remember it was cold. I happened to go to the Kentucky hotel because I had some