If Billy Gillispie can’t get it turned around this season at the University of Kentucky, it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Wildcats to be bad.
Why? Because the Southeastern Conference looks like it is the weakest from top to bottom that the league has been – ever. And not since the SEC was integrated has it been so weak.
Even in the days when UK dominated the league, the Wildcats were always among the nation’s best.
But just look at the Sagarin ratings in USA Today. The three highest-rated teams in the SEC are No. 8 Tennessee, No. 12 Mississippi, No. 22 Vanderbilt and No. 40 Arkansas.
The coach at Arkansas? None other than UK graduate John Pelphrey. If things keep going the way they are, he will be among the leading candidates for the next coaching job at his alma mater.
Ex-UK coach Tubby Smith’s new team, Minnesota, is ranked No. 39. Florida, which is coming off back-to-back national championships, is ranked at No. 70. UK is all the way down to No. 147.
Louisville is No. 42 and sinking fast. Western Kentucky is 64th. Eastern is 187th.
Sagarin’s five lowest-rated teams: 337th Alcorn State, 338th Eastern Illinois; 339th Kennesaw State, 340th New Jersey Tech, 341st North Florida. Look for some of them on next year’s early-season UK and/or U of L schedules.
81. South Carolina
111. Mississippi State
As I watched our new leaders take the oath of office and then dance the night away, I was struck by the beauty of their wives (and Allison Patrick, fiancee of Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo). If there’s anyone who doesn’t believe that the most beautiful women are in Kentucky, just take a look for yourself.
In addition to the quarterbacks who traditionally get the best looking girl, now I would add politicians, including of course Richie Farmer. When the agriculture commissioner was the first constitutional officer introduced for the Grand March, the announcer added, “And No. 32 Richie Farmer!”
The only woman constitutional officer, Auditor Crit Luallen, also is a beautiful woman. The women at my house say that her husband is a hunk himself. Louisville’s Gahm family, responsible for Kentucky having Valhalla Golf Club, gives Crit a lot of the credit for us getting the PGA Tournament.
Basketball coaches of men’s college teams don’t recruit many angels.
Instead, many of their players come from broken homes where they have little supervision.
That’s why so many of them have trouble following rules and staying eligible even with a lot of tutorial help.
I can’t explain why a Bud Mackey (the Most Valuable Player on last season’s state championship Scott County team) or a Derrick Caracter can’t follow simple rules and stay out of trouble. Instead, Mackey may have blown a college scholarship and earned a prison term for pushing drugs. And Caracter just can’t stay out of trouble.
I recently heard that when a college recruit reported to his college, he didn’t know what sheets were. He had been used to sleeping only on a dirty mattress. And a college football coach told of the first time one of his recruits went to the dining hall for lunch the first day of fall practice.
The recruit couldn’t believe his eyes at all the food.
“How much can I eat?” the recruit asked his coach.
“As much as you want,” said the coach.
The player simply couldn’t believe it.
The Petrino saga
People in Louisville who were close to Bobby Petrino weren’t surprised that he bailed out of his coaching contract with the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons and switched to Arkansas.
Soon after he arrived in Atlanta, he was telling his Louisville friends that the move from the University of Louisville to the Falcons was the worst mistake he had ever made.
And that was just the start. With each passing day, his situation got worse.
Television keeps showing up that shot of Falcon DeAngelo Hall in Petrino’s face. It wasn’t like that at Louisville, where he was the one doing the yelling and petrifying players. With Bobby, players could get away with a lot of things off the field as long as they performed on Saturday (or any game day that ends in Y, as in Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday).
In addition to all of the losing and the complaining by the players, Petrino’s family was in turmoil. It won’t be a surprise if his quarterback son, who just spent his freshman season at Georgetown College, transfer to a small college in the West.
Chris Redman fans hope that a new Atlanta coach won’t start out by benching the former U of L quarterback star. Petrino started Redman in the coach’s last game with Atlanta and Redman threw two touchdown passes.
Jack and Corky
I have lost one of my most faithful readers, Jack Fultz of Olive Hill.
Jack and his friend, Lonnie “Corky” Howerton, made the Olive Hill Comets one of Kentucky’s most feared high school basketball teams in the 1940s.
Jack passed away two weeks ago. His buddy, now Dr. Lonnie Howerton of Louisville, was recruited by Adolph Rupp, but he learned that some of his science classes conflicted with Wildcat practices, so he had to give up basketball.
Jack played at Morehead State and then became a successful coach and later an administrator for Olive Hill High.
But Jack did an even better thing for Olive Hill – the city and the high school – when he wrote a thick book on the history of the school, its basketball teams and the town. The Fultz family owned the local paper, and Jack had access to the history of everything that went on in Carter County.
Jack is the man who told me about fearing a giant named Wah Wah Jones in Harlan.
“All we could hear about was how big he was and how good he was,” said Jack.
As luck would have it, Jack’s Olive Hill team played Wah’s Harlan team in the 1944 State Tournament at UK’s Alumni Gym.
“You can imagine my surprise when Wah and I jumped center to start the game – I was as big as he was!”
Wah and Harlan won the semi-final game against Olive Hill 29-26 and went on to the state championship. The Green Dragons beat Dayton’s Green Devils 40-28 in the final with Wah scoring 23 points.