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College football will be fun in Kentucky in 2013





Bob Watkins

Bob Watkins

Before the first crunch of shoulder pads there are hints that college football 2013 may be the season you tell the grandchildren about. Scrambles to the top for … pick your favorite team.

Louisville could run the table.

Western could make the Sun Belt a last roundup and steppingstone to a bowl game not in Detroit.

And, Kentucky could win halfdozen games.

Before all that however, football’s glamour boy Johnny Manziel has put football in the stage lights. The kid from Texas A&M earned as much sensational prose the last 12 months as Edward Snowden, Ryan Braun and A-Rod combined.

Johnny Football in October became Johnny Heisman by Christmas and Johnny Party-Time by July. Today, revving up for two-adays, he’s Johnny Autograph. If an ESPN “Outside The Lines” report stands up to NCAA scrutiny, Manziel may become Supplemental Draft Johnny.

Yep, from before the get-go, college football is going to be fun.

1, 2, 3 … SMILE — Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops waited Monday to get into the team photo during the Wildcats’ NCAA college football media day at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

1, 2, 3 … SMILE — Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops waited Monday to get into the team photo during the Wildcats’ NCAA college football media day at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

While Manziel hides out and A&M officials aren’t talking about their bad boy, fans across Kentucky are “ready for some football!”

Louisville fans are saying things today that made Howard Schnellenberger a laughingstock three decades ago. The Cardinals are in the hunt for a BCS title game and nobody’s laughing.

As good as Louisville is, the schedule is not. Still, nobody would be more pleased to see the Cards line up against Alabama in the BCS title game at the Rose Bowl, Monday night, January 6, than former coach Schnellenberger.

Western fans believe coach Bobby Petrino is a water walker and will get the Hilltoppers to the postseason too. To start, WKU has new uniforms, new coaches, a new level of media attention and a new win streak against Kentucky.

Only five home games, the Hilltoppers have a step-up-a-notch opportunity as WKU turns the page to Conference USA next year.

Kentucky fans’ optimism is not new (see ticket sales). It dates back to Bob Hardy throwing passes to Schnellenberger. But the level of interest generated by new coaches and approaches is new.

For a team experts say will be the SEC’s bottom feeder again and win two games, interest in and high hopes for Flagship U. are back to the top of the charts.

Big Blue Nation’s sunny-minded loyalists can find five to six wins on the toughest schedule in America. When the laughing stops, there are legitimate reasons for finding success beyond Miami of Ohio and Alabama State.

• Western Kentucky. Opener is a toss-up.

• Florida. Off-field issues, injuries and defections and how Louisville knuckled the Gators in January, demonstrates how a team can be overrated. And, Florida plays in Lexington this season.

• Missouri. Tigers finished 5-7 last season, winning only two SEC games, Kentucky and Tennessee. The Tigers play at Commonwealth Stadium on November 9.

• Tennessee. Vols are also in rebuild mode. Big Orange comes to Lexington also.

Tally up the intangibles – injuries, fumbles, interceptions, penalties, field position, Big Mo and fortuitous bounces and come December, experts may be crowing about comeback Kentucky.

No laughing, please.

Hoops Talking Heads

“How do college basketball analysts on television rank?” a reader wrote recently.

One man’s opinion:

1. Verne Lundquist, CBS. Consummate professional controls his biases and brings a Santa Claus laugh. At 73, Lundquist communicates crisply, with self-deprecating humor and knows when quiet works best.

2. Barry Booker. It’s “just a game, folks!” Nobody laughs better than the former Vanderbilt shooter.

3. Len Elmore might be best of best. Professor of no nonsense, he doesn’t care about being cute and is painstakingly objective.

4. Doris Burke (a favorite). Comes prepared. Sees action off-the-ball and is deft at what’s coming next. Bit too chatty.

5. Dan Dakich. How good is he? See how ex-Hoosier player does an IU game. Pulls no punches, keeps homer-isms to a minimum.

6. Bill Raftery, ESPN. Santa of his profession. “The Kiss” loves the game, enjoys the gig, doesn’t take himself too seriously and so, we don’t either.

7. Stephen Bardo. Voice of a commander. Hope here is Bardo doesn’t fall in love with his own voice.

8. Jay Bilas. Slipped. Being an expert on everything and analyzing anything that moves and some that don’t has made him less enjoyable. Too, Bilas sold out to one-and-done-ism two seasons ago.

9. Steve Kerr. Smart, quick, poised and solid, the former Arizona shootist is not the entertainer his colleagues are and so, does not try to be.

10. Bob Knight. Still enjoy his insights and straightforward approach, but the General has begun to ramble on too much.

Slipped off the ( my) chart.

Clark Kellogg has cutiepied his way up and now down.

Jimmy Dykes. Was good, became Mr. Chirp, too selfimportant and now overexposed.

Bill Walton. Thinks he’s Shakespeare and in love with a voice from on high. His.

Dick Vitale. In love with being loved, loves being a celebrity and loves English with no paragraphs, no comma(s) and no stops. Get outta here!

Joe Dean Jr. Bless him. “String Music” was cool 30 years ago and is still cute occasionally, but he’s made it into a “hey Dad” tribute.

Worth Repeating Dept.

Centre College received $ 250 million the other day. A gift. Nary a dollar is destined for ball coaches, sports arena suites or pay for expanded preferred seating at a football stadium.

Beginning next year, 40 Brockman Scholars will receive four-year full scholarships and stipends to study abroad.

A Florida native who now lives in Houston, Bob Brockman came to Centre as a freshman in 1959 having never visited the campus. Why give part of his fortune earned at Universal Computer Systems Holding Inc. to Centre?

“I had my first great victories in life at Centre,” Brockman said through Richard Trollinger, vice president for college relations at Centre. “He got a sense of his own potential.”

And so it goes.


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