High school football pulls back the curtain this week on another academic year. The usual fixtures are in place – Louisville Trinity and Fort Thomas Highlands.
For the rest of the year, here are a few things I would like to see come to pass.
1. A favorite for Kentucky “sports person of the year” be established. Emma Talley. A 19-year-old from Princeton in Caldwell County and sophomore at Alabama, won the U.S. Women’s Amateur golf championship. Two Kentuckians won major tournaments this year, Talley and Kenny Perry of Franklin.
And, kudos to Talley’s hometown newspaper. The Times-Leader devoted an eight-page special section to its new celeb.
2. In Lexington the Rupp Arena renovation goes forward and I hope not one seat is sacrificed for executive suites. If basketball is a religion in the Commonwealth, no matter how Mitch Barnhart spins “keeping up with the Joneses (UofL at Yum! Center),” eliminating seating for the blue collars would be sacrilege.
Ownership of Kentucky basketball isn’t what it once was, but Big Blue fans, not bean counters, are responsible for UK’s century-long high profile in hoops. A report last week said UK at Rupp led the nation in attendance for the eighth season in a row and 17 of the last 18 years.
Fan loyalty despite a succession of weak non-conference games at home.
3. I hope the pivot game on Kentucky’s football schedule is Missouri. If South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi State haven’t hammered the life out of Mark Stoops’ team by November 9 and injuries taken a huge toll, a reasonable season could be at hand when the Tigers come to Lexington. From there, UK could win two of its last three.
4. Louisville. Charlie Strong won’t like hearing it, but Run the Table will be heard a lot. No team on this schedule should beat the Cardinals. None.
5. Western Kentucky. Five home dates are two dates too few, but three are premium – Navy on September 28 is regional television-worthy, but isn’t one of seven Topper games scheduled for TV. Next, Louisiana Lafayette, with a quarterback named (Terrence) Broadway, is reputed to be an offensive machine and favorite to win the Sun Belt. And, Troy is homecoming foe November 26.
6. Members of the NBA Players Association executive committee create the top news story for 2013. Join with NBA Commissioner David Stern and the NCAA, close the 19-year-old, one-and-done loophole.
I hope NBAPA president Derek Fisher, Jerry Stackhouse, James Jones, Matt Bonner, Stephen Curry, Willie Green, Andre Iguodala. Roger Mason Jr. and Chris Paul vote do the right thing. Stop ignoring a basic American right – a 17 to 18-year-old high school graduate chooses a job, joins the military, goes to college or, as with Major League Baseball’s draft, pursues being a professional athlete.
7. Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings signs two 4-star recruits. Just once.
8. Northwestern makes it into an NCAA Tournament field before we’re too old to care.
9. A top 10 candidates list for the John Wooden college player of the year includes half-dozen underclassmen. I think Wooden would be most pleased if the winner is Aaron Craft at Ohio State. Kid has paid his dues.
10. And, I hope the Pittsburgh Pirates get to the World Series.
‘Most Revered’ List
Most Revered Figures in College Basketball History, was title of internet Bleacher Report’s new list last week. From the top: John Wooden … Mike Krzyzewski … Dean Smith and Bob Knight. At No. 6 Jim Valvano … Pat Summitt … Don Haskins … Kay Yow and 10th: Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.
Wooden, Summitt, Krzyzewski and Knight are worthy. To place Valvano or Haskins ahead of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson is laughable.
No. 5 on the list got my attention. Adolph Rupp.
Yes. Too many have forgotten Der Baron wakened America to the entertainment value of the college game long before a Wizard in Westwood. Dean Smith was still a pup at Kansas, Knight a sub at Ohio State and Krzyzewski was a twinkle in dad’s eye.
Extraordinary and ironic, I thought, the charitable words for Rupp that transcended racist labels put on him.
“I know there have been a lot of people who thought (Rupp) was a racist. But I think the times can dictate how people act, where you’re brought up, how you’re brought up. If he was a racist, he wasn’t alone in this country. I’m never going to judge anybody. That’s a long time ago too. You learn from the past, and you go on.” – Tubby Smith to a Chicago Sun-Times reporter,
Rupp should be and is revered.
In Kentucky, Tubby Smith should be also, especially now that he has been selected for induction into the UK Athletic Hall of Fame.
And so it goes.