Whitesburg KY

Cats look good

Before newspaper types become fevered with clever ways to get Hartline and Justin Burke into a 64-point headline … a look back to last Saturday.

If your shirt was blue then Kentucky’s Miami Crush was all that and more. Maybe a fourthand inches short of superb.

On a 1-10 scale for a season opener, an 8.5.

Michael ‘Crisp Man’ Hartline was no game manager in this one, but a leader of men. His execution with a variety pack offense was immaculate. No hesitations, no happy feet, no turnovers. Best part? No bad decisions.

Offense. 42-0 says enough. But a reminder: This is not the Randall Cobb Show because options Hartline can dial up were limited only by Joker Phillips’s Fun-and-Mix I-Pack – innovation, imagination, innovation and eyeballing defensive sets. And, what Phillips might’ve decided to hold back for Louisville.

Offensive line play, protecting the quarterback, was excellent; creating between tackles holes inside for ball carriers was less so.

Defense against run, excellent (against a MAC team).

Defense against pass. Passable. Two interceptions, should have been four. Pass rush must become better by 50 per cent.

Kicking game. Mixed. Ryan Tydlacka punts were outstanding, kick-off distances were not. Best part? Kick cover was splendid. Could be a huge key to season success since, in part, if the Wildcats are kicking off, it means they’re scoring.

Game One, 8.5.

Louisville Gets ‘Decision’

Steve Kragthorpe’s Cardinals’ win looked like an opener. Sputter and cough offense and 14 penalties.

In boxing parlance, Louisville’s expected knock-out punch never came. Cards had to settle for a decision, jabbing a 90-pound weakling into submission. The coaching was conservative, the play tentative, Justin Burke fidgety for a half, but the run game showed sparkle. A win is a win.

UofL will savor its 1-0 start, keep mostly mum and hear whispers of Little Brother because if the UK-Miami film is reflective of what awaits at Commonwealth Stadium the Cards had better play perfect.

The Cards chances of beating Kentucky in its home opener after what Rich Brooks called the Perfect Storm in Cincinnati, doesn’t look to be in the cards.

Game One, 6.0

Sensible Schedules

for UK and UofL

At last, University of Kentucky and Louisville fans have schedules well planned at the top. Made with foresight over ego (theory shot down: Gov’s Cup won’t attract teevee unless it’s an opener).

We have a series not controlled by an ESPN producer examining ratings points projections. And due respect and fortnight hype time goes to Governor’s Cup.

The 2009 UK-UofL game will be better than ever because …

1. Season openers are traditionally mistake-riddled and sputter affairs that rarely amount to more than a stepping stone on a 12-weekend tailgate party.

2. Game Two quality will match the passion and hype too.

3. Coaches now have film (Miami and Indiana State respectively), to rewind, fast forward, pore over and chew on with media.

4. Opener helps coaches sort out Broadway Joes from notready for-prime joes.

5. With an open date, two weeks for fans to dial-up radio call-ins, second guess sessions at the local drugstore, squawk about who should be fired, and snipe at each other across internet message boards.

6. And, ticket scalpers have an extra week to plan for what they do on game days.

Listen for it. Game day. In the distance, cadence of bass and snare drums and brass coming on. Marching bands … heart stirring rendition of My Old Kentucky Home … and collective voice of 70,000 at kick off.

Golden time in Kentucky.

Notes ‘n Folks

• What Goes around, Comes Around Dept. Tennessee’s 60- minute run-it-up 63-7 humiliation of Western Kentucky last week, merits, we hope, a good Dixieland whuppin’ for Lane Kiffin and his Vols. Mark your calendar — September 19 in Gainesville.

• SEC teams to watch: Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

• Memphis Commercial-Appeal. Calling the punishment “too severe,” University of Memphis is appealing the NCAA ruling that vacated the Tigers 2007-08 basketball season, return of $615,000, and two years probation.

UM officials are right. The NCAA sanction is not reasonable in part because those responsible are gone. The coach to Kentucky and Derrick Rose to the NBA. Fair compromise? Memphis surrenders 38-wins, but keeps the money and no probation.

• Rick Pitino woofers. The rising number of righteous sports writers hammering UofL’s coach for his confessed misdeed, ought take a deep breath and give consideration to theologian John Bradford’s “There but for the grace of God, go I.”


The NCAA 20 hours a week practice limit rule for college athletes came under scrutiny recently. Michigan coach Rich Rodriquez and staff were accused of exceeding those limits.

Question: Is this NCAA rule enforcible?

A. Yes, if directors of athletics aren’t busy looking the other way.

B. Yes, if coach wears an ankle bracelet that activates a campuswide recording of the school fight song at the 20-hour mark.

C. Never in the SEC. D. Yes, for honorable coaches.

E. No.

If you chose D, stop laughing. If E, treat yourself to a Happy Meal.

Parting Shot

Top ranked Florida and Tim Tebow will visit Kentucky September 26.

One national columnist says of the Gator quarterback, “He’s a hero, and why not? Tebow has national championships, a Heisman, and he’s a good guy to boot. But he should know it will never get any better than this.”

Comment: Tebow returned for his senior year. He knows.

And so it goes. E-mail Bob Watkins at sprtsinky@aol.com

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