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Political feud stirs up bad UK memory

Sports in Kentucky


 

 

Christian (@&%$#!) Laettner?

A candidate for governor of Kentucky added another 15 minutes of fame to former Duke star Laettner’s legend last week. It began at little past 10 o’clock on Saturday 23 years ago.

Hal Heiner is “… the Christian Laettner of Kentucky politics,” chortled gubernatorial candidate James Comer about his Republican rival.

For those who have long since buried the bones of Laettner, it was enough to rattle the skeleton, waken freshly put away ghosts called Wisconsin and seven oneand goners.

Suggesting that Heiner had indulged in dirty tricks to undo Comer’s candidacy, the old bones of Laettner could undo them both.

For those (few?) who have forgotten or missed a gazillion replays of Laettner’s dirty trick on March 28, 1992, it was a right foot onto Aminu Timberlake’s chest as the UK player lay on the floor that night in Philadelphia. A trick provoked by Richie Farmer’s healthy push in Laettner’s back on the play before.

As it was then it is again, Laettner got the better of it. Another winning shot. When told of Comer’s remark, the ex-Dookie asked a reporter, “Does that mean he (Heiner) will win?”

Graduation Season

In Lexington, 61 University of Kentucky student-athletes received degrees on Mother’s Day weekend.

Revenue sports — 11 graduates from football and four from men’s basketball (Alex Poythress, Tod Lanter, Brian Long and Sam Malone).

Graduation in men’s basketball is largely irrelevant since the program morphed into an NBA D-League franchise. What is relevant is the bankruptcy of that serves to put at center stage, Alvin “Bud” Dupree.

Imposing at 6-feet-4, 264-pounds, the linebacker entertained for four seasons, raised the bar for all to follow and his success kindled recruiting and stirred optimism among Kentucky fans.

In years to come, Dupree will visit Mom back in Irwinton, Georgia, but Lexington will be home too. One fine autumn day in the Bluegrass his number 2 will be mounted on a Commonwealth Stadium high place.

Coach Mark Stoops: “(Bud) was kind of quiet, led by example, always took care of himself, but more and more as a player for us, he became that leader.”

Recipe a Mother can cherish: Learning to take care of himself … make lifetime friends … grow himself, become example to his fellows … rise to leader of men … invest himself in free education. Dupree had gone off to college having promised Mom he would get a degree.

Now comes Pittsburgh and the Steelers. At 22, Dupree can earn more than $9.2 million over the next four years.

Then, by February 12, 2023, his 30th birthday, I hope Dupree is well done with the NFL. Educated, worldly, with jingle in his pockets and knees intact, he should be ready for next phase of life. Family man with handsome options for which he will be much qualified, sought after. Including: Human services … community leadership … teach and coach … business owner … entrepreneur. All available to man worthy of imitation, Alvin “Bud” Dupree.

Indiana-Kentucky?

Reports last week citing possibility of a Kentucky-Indiana basketball renewal are without merit.

Statements by Kentucky’s coach to Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA) after cancellation of the UK-IU series in 2012, are unchanged.

“Kentucky has built its current basketball program entirely on the basis of professional prospects playing their required one-anddone year in college before entering the NBA,” a spokesman for the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA) steering committee said.

“The (UK) program is no longer designed to provide students pursuing a college education the opportunity to compete, it is designed to train professional basketball players.

“Now Kentucky is taking its professional model to the next level. By demanding as a matter of policy that non-conference games be moved to neutral sites that emulate professional conditions it is breaking the connection between campus and school sports and insisting that contracted opponents do likewise.”

Kentucky’s coach: “UK is no longer a traditional program be- cause it is designed to lose most of its one-and-done players to the NBA each year. Kentucky will therefore only sign short-term contracts with non-conference rivals, and will require that both games in home-home series be played off campus.

“We are using the entire season to prepare us to compete for national titles. Part of that means you’ve got to play in big arenas, you’ve got to play in football stadiums; you’ve got to do something to get them ready for a Sweet 16 or a Final Four.”

Benefits to UK fans?

“It benefits our donors as well as our fans (who) cannot get into Rupp Arena. For our K Fund donors, you will still have the best tickets and the best seats. Instead of 20,000 at home, we bring 40,000 on the road.”

Whereupon Kentucky cancelled its traditional rivalry with Indiana because IU would not agree to play games off campus.

Worth Repeating

Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson announced last week he is transferring to play elsewhere as a graduate student. While Notre Dame will refuse to release Golson to any school on its 2015 schedule, he is interested in South Carolina and Florida.

However Golson’s future plays out, ESPN’s John Saunders said the other day, “… this isn’t the same old story. Golson was a student before being an athlete. While his NFL future is in doubt, Golson is a model college athlete and leaves Notre Dame with the biggest prize: A degree.”

And so it goes.

You can reach me at bob.Watkins24@aol.com


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