Let us pause and examine the Major League Baseball draft, a pragmatic affair held last week with minimal hype. NBA drafters should be less greedy and so fortunate. Ditto NCAA rules-makers counting cash, as Scrooge McDuck did, by the dump truck load.
No time for innovation by the NCAA and NBA, let alone the political courage to force change? A few ball coaches will have time.
One of them is Jim Calhoun at UConn. With time and space available to study the professional baseball model, we can be sure UConn will have a look since Calhoun’s defection-riddled and scholar-poor roster will stay home from the next Big Dance.
Another is Scott Drew. In Waco, Texas, Baylor University and coach will have three years (probation) to study the MLB model.
In Lexington, the University of Kentucky baseball team had nine players selected in MLB draft — a school record. Five are high school seniors who signed with UK, but stand at a clear crossroads today with options:
1. Skip college. Haggle for a signing bonus, sign a contract, take an assignment to an MLB bus ride rookie league in Washington state, or
2. Opt for college. Play, study, party, grow and grow up (between the ears), then become eligible for the MLB draft in 2015.
Easy choice, right?
If Indiana University and the University of Louisville sign a contract to meet on the basketball court, UK may have been “Pipped.”
When Wally Pipp took a day off from the Yankee lineup on June 2, 1925, Lou Gehrig replaced him. Gehrig was such a natural, the lineup stayed the same for the next 14 years.
What would a UofL-IU series mean for UK short term? Not much if fans enjoy trade offs for Samford and Portland State. Clearly, Wildcat fans who love the border traditional rivalry with IU the signal to fans from Coach John Calipari is – you don’t matter.
A Louisville-Indiana series home-and-home in Bloomington and at the Yum! Center could be the new Dream Game. CBS Sports schedule-makers wouldn’t hesitate.
• In a recruiting coup for Western Kentucky University football, Coach Willie Taggart’s Hilltoppers play Southern Miss (12-2 last season) on September 22 on ESPN3.
Western can make a show for recruiting prospects on ESPNU again October 11 against rival Troy, and on November 1 against traditional rival Middle Tennessee.
• Pascal Benson owns one of the best ever names in Kentucky sports. Three-time letterman at UK, Benson will be inducted into the KHSAA Hall of Fame. At Henderson
High, he was an all-state player in football, basketball and baseball.
• The decline of thoroughbred horse racing is vastly exaggerated. Belmont Stakes drew its sixth best crowd ever with no triple crown candidate.
• Kentucky’s boys’ basketball all-stars will beat Indiana one of these days. Maybe when Hoosiers officials agree to play on a neutral floor … in Kentucky.
• That University of Kentucky’s football team will be cast as underdog in nine of 12 games, including four SEC games at Commonwealth Stadium. Should be a motivational hot button for Coach Joker Phillips.