Whitesburg KY

Little joy in ‘Jokerville’



There is no joy in Jokerville this week and the forecast isn’t good for Saturday either. But, there’s no crying in football, right? For Kentucky football 2011, cowboy-up time has come early.

Fresh off a 38- point tenderizing by Florida, the Wildcats travel to Baton Rouge, where a big ole bunch of ornery Cajun crocodiles lie in a bayou mud bank with 679 fangs shining and wondering if tenderized Wildcat tastes like chicken.

LSU coach Les Miles will have reminded his troops at least twice this week what Kentucky did last time his Tigers were ranked number one. So show time in Death Valley. If you’re a Wildcat fan, you might want to close your eyes and tune in Tom Leach.

This week, from coffee shop to barbershop to workshop, let us accentuate the positives. Those would be these:

• Joker Phillips and deputies will pull on their Dale Carnegie gear and earn their money this week.

• Danny Trevathan will call out his mates. Suddenly, they will plug holes against the run.

• The offensive line will play offended.

• And, droppers will become receivers.

Kentucky’s Wildcats will cowboy up. Right?

Otherwise … there’s the baseball playoffs and the NFL.

And, in a fortnight at midnight (Big Blue Madness), Big Blue talk turns to Terrence Jones and pals, what impact Archie Goodwin’s Uncle Sam speeches will have on a parade of visiting prospects, and all things basketball in between.

For Joker and his team, good motivational incentives to cowboy up.

Aggies Are ‘In’

Texas A& M is newest glutton at the SEC feed trough. Aggies football and basketball are a geographic plus for league image and media reach, but just another rival for, say, Kentucky recruiters in east to central Texas, pre-empting the pitch line, “Wanna play in the SEC? come to Lexington.”

More SEC expansion coming? West Virginia or Missouri could be next. In revenue sports the Mountaineers would be an Appalachian ticket selling natural for Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia. Vanderbilt too.

League Jumpers

Old tradition in college football – coaches sing commitment to recruits, sign contract extensions with State U., then jump to the next best thing.

New tradition in college football – directors of athletics of the Haves sing commitment to Big East, Big 12, Big Whatever, then unveil plan to jump leagues for television dollars.

University presidents in the new era persuade a rah-rah rubber stamp vote from spineless boards of trustees, then tell their directors of athletics, “show us the money.”

Tail wags dog. And, big time sports gooses its Golden Goose for more golden eggs.

The future? Super Conferences. Sharing the wealth with Have Nots and midmajors will come to a halt. So will NCAA governance.

Super Conference leaders will jettison the police and run athletics for profit as they please. Coaches will buy players, offer as many scholarships (snicker) as they choose, play games on whatever nights television networks decide. On campus, going to class will be optional, and tailgaters will throw another steak on the barby.

Television networks will vie for Super Conference exclusives.

Next. Authentic college fans will return to authentic Saturday afternoon football and tailgating … at Georgetown College, Kentucky Wesleyan, University of the Cumberlands and other college towns where a ticket and parking doesn’t empty a family’s weekend budget for entertainment.

Cynical? Wait for it.

Profit Margin Mitch

Naming its football field for a pedestrian basketball player (C.M. Newton) two decades ago rankled football’s old guard, but Mitch Barnhart’s decision to install a message streamer board overlaying All-American names around the stadium rim has created new grumbling. More important, it sent a new message – devotion to football tradition’s new spot in UK Athletics pecking order. To wit : 1. Build stadium suites, make money; 2. Men’s basketball, pay for study to build a new arena; 3. Install new stadium scoreboards, raise ticket prices, make more money, 4. Then, tribute to football.

A few ex-football Wildcats grumbled about the message board idea, but one of them, whose name and number are now obscured, floated a curious reaction. “The field is named for a basketball guy and now this. Doesn’t matter anymore. I stopped going to games a while ago and turned my tickets back in.”

Hoops TV Special

Mark your calendar for Tuesday, October 25. HBO will debut “Prayer for a Perfect Season.” The 90-minute special will give fans across Kentucky a look into St. Patrick’s High basketball featuring new Wildcat Marcus Teague and his teammate Derrick Gordon, who suits up for Western Kentucky this winter.

And so it goes.

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