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Kentucky’s teams still unimpressive in mid-January





 

 

Kentucky has 15 games left in regular season, same for Western Kentucky. Louisville has 14. Midschedule impressions from here …

KENTUCKY. Halfway through their college careers, John Calipari’s one-and-doners, in light of preseason hype showered on them, have underachieved.

Game performance to match preseason No. 1 ranking? One. Defeated Louisville at Rupp Arena. Michigan State and North Carolina aside, Kentucky played a bevy of lightweights, endured something called Camp Cal and at mid-January UK is still learning to be a team.

Grade. C-minus.

LOUISVILLE. Preseason, the defending champion Cardinals were a top 5 ranked team. Starter Chane Behanan was sent packing and Cards lost at home to Memphis. And preseason hype as college player of the year status for Russ Smith has evaporated. Cards have underachieved.

Grade. C-minus.

WESTERN KENTUCKY. Ray Harper’s Hilltoppers are still searching for consistency. Good wins over Southern Miss and Murray State, but should have beaten Ole Miss and Georgia State.

Grade. C.

Todd Stewart as Alex Hamilton

Kudos to Western Kentucky University’s equivalent of Alexander Hamilton handling money with vision and aplomb. Director of Athletics Todd Stewart’s rent-acoach strategy with Bob Petrino did these things: v WKU athletics collects $1.2 million from Petrino. v A home-and-home series. Since Louisville likely will not honor this clause, but will pay a buy-out fee, Stewart will stuff another five-figure check into Hilltopper coffers. v Coach-in-waiting Jeff Brohm comes at half the Petrino (inflated) price, $600,000 a year through 2019 with a $1.5 million buyout that decreases each year. v For continuity, the Brohm hiring keeps recruits on board until signing day, February 5.

Only snafu in all this: No Hilltopper fan mentioned that Petrino coached the Hilltoppers to an 8-4 record with Willie Taggart’s players.

Bob Petrino

Poster boy for what’s wrong with college football. Six-time job jumper Petrino’s behaviors along the way demonstrate a career ruthlessly about himself. Track record says: Former players, colleges and Tom Jurich are, at some point, expendable.

A Sports Illustrated headline: Louisville shows it has no shame in bringing back Bobby Petrino.

“Bobby Petrino is exactly the kind of mercenary (who) further blurs the line between college and professional sports,” SI’s Stewart Mandel wrote.

And this: “Tom Jurich, who, when Petrino was his head coach 2003-06, watched him openly flirt with multiple NFL and college suitors, then gave him a staggering 10-year contract extension to regain his commitment, only to have Petrino bolt for the Atlanta Falcons six months later.”

Jurich’s rush to re-hire Petrino last week without so much as forming a search committee, was more about demonstrating his own power and influence at UofL. Still to come, media tossing bouquets to the Ohio River Gambler.

Business is business.

Fan Reax to Petrino

These gems. v Before Bob Petrino jumped his contract with Western Kentucky, a reader wrote: “Bobby Petrino back to Louisville? That would be like Hal Mumme coming back to Kentucky.” v “If (Tom) Jurich hires Petrino again, will UofL boosters buy him a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle to go with the other perks?

“And, how long before Petrino looks for another job? One year? Or, when Florida fires Will Muschamp after next season?” v “When my brother Fred informed me that Charlie Strong was going to Texas, my reply was if Sam Houston had not left Tennessee and gone to Texas, we might be wearing sombreros and watching bullfights. (So) I’m okay with Bobby Petrino.”

Dakich and UK

Dan Dakich needs to change the subject. The former IU player turned ESPN analyst (and a good one) accused John Calipari of being afraid to play the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall in Bloomington. My hunch is Kentucky’s coach doesn’t want to play at IU because of how Hoosier fans treated Darius Miller after Christian Watford’s winning shot in 2010. With no security in place, Miller was virtually trampled as fans swarmed the IU bench area in celebration.

New Rupp Arena

Details being discussed for the new Rupp Arena are innovative and exciting. Big Blue VIPs who grumble because UofL has boxes and suites for the privileged “and we don’t,” must have cringed when a spokesperson for the project told the Lexington Herald-Leader the other day that VIP boxes and luxury suites are less a hot item these days. “They (VIPs) want to sit with everyone else and still be part of the bowl experience,” Jay Issacs said.

Worth Repeating Dept.

From a WKU fan, “I’m reading a good book on the Summer of 1927 by Bill Bryson. Was a big year — (Charles) Lindbergh; and Babe Ruth hit 60 (homer runs). … Fascinating little factoid about the Yankees. At one time they were known as the Hilltoppers.”

Comment: 1903-1912, the New York baseball team played at Hilltop Park.

Newspaper editors wanted a shorter name for headlines. When the franchise moved to the Polo Grounds in 1913, it officially changed to New York Yankees.

UK Recruiting

Carlton Bragg, a 6-9 junior at Villa Angela St. Joseph in Ohio, used media to lobby Kentucky for a scholarship offer. He got it last week. Bragg’s reaction was like a kid collecting offers like baseball cards. “Finally got that

Kentucky offer,” he tweeted.

Parting Shot

Poor beleaguered Alex Rodriquez. Going to be a long road to redemption, but one day a sports media guy will get a tear in his eye then tender an adjective-rich piece to his editor extolling the virtue of a changed man, Bobby Petrino. Oops, I mean Alex Rodriquez.

And so it goes.


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