For Big Blue Nation Thursday- Friday October 15-16 is time to break out the good stuff — the company-is-coming best silverware.
• Auburn and Kentucky on Thursday at 7 p. m. (ESPN).
• 24 hours later, Big Blue Madness in basketball’s Mecca, Rupp Arena (SEC Network).
Rival ball coaches tempted to go grumbling to the NCAA citing unfair recruiting advantage, excess of national exposure for Kentucky, would have a case.
Auburn at Kentucky is a catapult game for the only team one spot back of Florida in SEC East. It’s the most promising opportunity for Wildcat football since 2007 when Kentucky took a 6-1 record, (2-1 in SEC), into a home date with Florida. Rich Brooks’s team was this close, but lost 45- 37. From there, UK won one of its last four, then beat a depleted Florida State team in the Music City Bowl to finish 8-5.
A win over Auburn could launch Mark Stoops’s team and BBN onto a competitive plane with Tennessee at home and Georgia in Athens without Nick Chubb. Still on the card, Vanderbilt and Charlotte.
What about Auburn?
Tigers (3-2) after a bye week, according to Bleacher Report, emerges from … v Sloppy homecoming victory over San Jose State. v Far from impressive on both sides of the ball. v Fumble- itis. Four against San Jose. v Putting emphasis for UK on creating explosive plays on offense.
Seems only a month or so ago since Rupp Arena was a full house. Probably because Kentucky’s coach makes sure his mug or voice or both are on television or radio somewhere somehow at least 15 days a month.
This Friday evening fans get a look at the latest batch of the seven-month turnstilers. This crew from most accounts will endear itself to fans by way of pass-passpass then shoot style to stir the hearts of true Big Blue fans.
Hopes here include …
• Fans ignore the coachspeak, lowering expectations. After all, Big Blue Nation is ever a tribe of savvy assistant coaches.
• Cool the accolades on Tyler Ulis. Kid is a sophomore.
• The coach says “this is Tyler’s team.” The roster’s old man, Alex Poythress, may not agree.
• Skal Labissiere gets to play.
• Isaiah Briscoe makes himself a fan favorite.
College Hoops A Comin’
Don’t have a copy of Street&Smith magazine yet, but 2015-16 draws near with promise to be as entertaining and interesting as ever.
• Billy Donovan is gone, but Bruce Pearl is back.
• Travis Ford is back, John Pelphrey isn’t.
• Kyle Wiltjer is back, Bob Knight won’t be.
• Jay Bilas is back, but so is court jester Dick Vitale.
• One prime list of newcomers to watch includes Jamal Murray at Kentucky and Damion Lee at Louisville.
• Tai Wynyard is a 2.06m, 115kg (that’s 6-9, 240-pounds to us) New Zealander who arrives at UK in December. He told a local reporter he committed “pretty much as soon as they came to me. It’s the best school in the country so how was I not going to say yes. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m ready to go over there and smash it out, and do the best I can to compete.”
Wynyard is a Kiwi chipoff-the-old-block. His father is a world class axman and his mother competes, too.”
Erosion in the NCAA
NCAA’s credibility continues to slide. Swimming in an ocean of money that means: v No incentive to solve the one and done problem. v More incentive for programs to forsake amateurism altogether and follow the Kentucky and Duke “business model” down the tube to NBA Developmental League franchise. v Tortoise slow and tiptoe tepid, judgments against rules offenders based not on guilt or innocence, but on size, influence and pushback (North Carolina for example). v As new season nears, standing in the dock at some level of accusation, investigation, indictment or appeal are:
• UCLA assistant coach Duane Broussard denying allegations this week that he tried to have a Bruin player’s grade changed to keep him eligible.
• Academic fraud wait list: North Carolina and Roy Williams, SMU and Larry Brown. Sex and scandal: Louisville and Rick Pitino.
Aside from being multimillionaires, Hall of Fame, and having a job in common, all rely on same defense: I did not know therefore I am not responsible.
Never mind, the NCAA has plenty of money.
“If the NBA was on channel five and a bunch of frogs making love were on channel four, I’d watch the frogs, even if they were coming in fuzzy.” – Bob Knight
And so it goes.