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Ky. teams hit the road

Bob Watkins

Bob Watkins

Last week UK, UofL and WKU (in part) was “Pretty Work.” This week: “Road Work.”

Here come the dragons.

The fun of dispensing dazzle verbiage on Louisville’s new offense, Kentucky’s new-agers and Western new high hopes via new coach, give way to going on the road. v Louisville. The top 25-ranked Cardinals, having put a Bob Petrino brand 66-spot on Murray State, play at Virginia (1-1). The Cavaliers should be victim two in a four game set as UofL marches toward Clemson October 11. v Western Kentucky’s familiar coulda-woulda-shoulda conversation starring Illinois, gives way to turn-the-page and renewal of a delicious rivalry in the land, Middle Tennessee (1-1).

Both coming off heart bruising losses to Big Ten teams, the Blue Raiders and HIlltoppers saddle up wearing Conference USA logos, but the same tough feelings remain dating to days in the OVC. v Eastern Kentucky. Off to twoand oh start, the Colonels are at home to rival Morehead State this week, but the more promising news has road work written on it. By the time the Colonels head to Eastern Illinois October 11, odds are improving that Coach Dean Hood’s team will be 5-0. v SEC headliner: Kentucky at Florida.

Kentucky owns the nation’s seventh hardest schedule and this week is dream crash or dream catcher for the blue team in Gainesville. The usual credential is attached. UK is a severe underdog. But Mark Stoops’ team gets what every feisty upstart plays for, a shot. This one comes with national television via SEC Network.

Opportunity: To win … to recruit … to change landscape.

Florida? Coach-under-fire Will Muschamp let his Gators make Eastern Michigan their Hors d’oeuvre last week, 65-0. The smash was as much about cooling the hot breath of Gator fan base than it was showing off an offense.

Florida will be determined to do the same to Kentucky ahead of its first road work next week at Alabama.

Kentucky? If the Wildcats take away respectability in Gainesville only, then the glass is still half full. As many as five opponents to come, four at Commonwealth Stadium, look beatable for UK.

Worth Repeating Dept.

From the New York Times: “Yes, it has all been unfair to the big time college athletes who appear on television and make so much money for their institutions. Clearly. But what is the purpose of higher education? Earning? Or learning?”

In Praise of Bill Gatton

Beginning near Bremen in Muhlenburg County, Carol Martin “Bill” Gatton earned his way with titles and accolades enough to impress princes and kings.

A CEO here, chairman of a board there, member of the UK Board of Trustees, his name on front of buildings (Universities of Kentucky and East Tennessee State). And, on the Western Kentucky University campus, the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science opened in 2007. A veritable incubator for gifted high school juniors and seniors to finish last two years while dipping a collective toe into college life mainstream and taking college courses.

Success story titles? My favorite for Gatton is philanthropist. v The Gatton School at Western ranks best of its kind in America. v Donated three-quarters of a million dollars in 1970s to establish a tutorial program for UK studentathletes. v Millions of dollars to College of Business and Economics at UK. v Millions more for College of Pharmacy at East Tennessee State. v Last week, a $20 million donation to expand UK’s Student Center.

With it all, Bill Gatton said in a Lexington Herald- Leader interview last week his boyhood dream back in Bremen was like one many of us had growing up. “I’d have been an All-American player at Kentucky.”

Gets better.

Asked in recent years to donate money for Rupp Arena renovation by big spenders, Gatton said no.

Why not? “Because,” he said, “it sends the wrong message to core fans who have built the tradition of Kentucky basketball for years and years and years. It looks like they’re doing something for the rich folks and not for core fans who have supported and made the reputation of Kentucky basketball.”


Gatton understands that core fans are not always those who travel to New York, Hawaii and the Bahamas, but are always Kentuckians who hold to the notion winning games with junior and senior student-athletes are important too.

Because of who the Man from Bremen has become, Gatton is a University of Kentucky All-American. He ought have a jersey hanging in Rupp Arena next to Cawood Ledford.

And so it goes.

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