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Sports in Kentucky




 

 

The tune is still ‘Rocky Top’ after 23 years

The ’07 Tennessee-Kentucky was Hamburger Hill. Fierce, tough. Required four extra takes and was six feet short of a draw as Andre Woodson lay at the 2- yard-line as the Vols celebrated. Twenty-three years on … tune is still, Rocky Top.

Saturday’s skirmish (this was no game) was a Richter scale 7, gladiator brutal and Dixieland tobacco juice tough. In the end here was a video-tape for a television documentary narrated by Will Lyman, defining the SEC. Rowdy, resilient, proud. Saturday was Little Round Top in reverse, Yankee Vols needed extra time and stamina to beat back the battered Kentucky rebs. Combat in pads and trash talk.

This week? The Vols regroup and march their rocky top way to Atlanta and a battle with LSU. Kentucky fans get another (bowl) chance to see a team better than 7-5 from its collective heart on out. An ensemble of comrades who come along in one class rarely

Whatever bowl Kentucky accepts, Wildcat fans will be ready to paint a town.

‘A Man’s Word’

If remarks attributed to him by the Lexington Herald-Leader are accurate, Stuart Campbell, attorney for Billy Clyde Gillispie, wants UK director of athletics Mitch Barnhart to be contractually specific so his client (Gillispie) “… can’t be fired on a whim.”

Since Gillispie told Kentucky fans he is a “man of his word,” and presuming Barnhart’s word is good, where’s the conflict? This couldn’t be about Campbell’s fee could it?

We know universities buy out coaches all the time and coaches renege on signed contracts even more frequently. So, in today’s climate Barnhart’s “Memorandum of Understanding” seems good business. An agreement between men who value giving their word.

Barnhart’s approach looks fair except … reportedly included in Gillispie’s deal is a $75,000 bonus tied to academic progress, graduation rates, SEC titles and NCAA Tournament participation.

Bonus? We wonder how a UK employee with a Memorandum of Understanding at $2.3 million a year deserves a bonus for doing his job – monitor academic progress of athletes, graduate them and win games. That is the order of priorities isn’t it?

Q’s & A’s

Question. Biggest story, biggest plays in Kentucky football this year?

A. Louisville’s flop; UK beat No. 1 LSU; Danny Hope’s Eastern Colonels ran the OVC table (8-0), and Western moved the chains on its way to D-1.

Biggest plays: Woodson-to- Steve Johnson twice, Louisville and LSU.

Question. Is criticism of Steve Kragthorpe at UofLjustified?

A. No. But heat from fans buying tickets is as much a part of the coach’s contract as a vote of confidence from a director of athletics. From this date until February signing day, Kragthorpe will show he’s up to the job or is the latest example of the Peter Principle.

Question: Why suggest renaming the field at Commonwealth Stadium when it has a name, C.M. Newton Field?

A. With all due respect, Newton

is in Basketball’s Hall of Fame. Beyond overseeing stadium expansion, he had nothing to do with Commonwealth’s original planning and construction. His hire, Hal ‘Slick’ Mumme, brought shame and NCAA probation (again). Fast rising to Blanton Collier level, Rich Brooks has fathered no nonsense, fostered an entertaining style and his teams win. And, he’s a football guy.

Readers (Right) Write – About a column item praising Tubby Smith for refusing to criticize UK and fans.

Paul in Louisville, “I just wish UK fans would show as much class under the circumstances. There are just so many who feel they have to criticize Tubby every chance they get. Tubby has taken the high road. He made a wise decision that was best for him and the University of Kentucky, now if everyone could just leave it alone.”

Louisville Date

Louisville’s second highly rated basketball recruiting class in a row was no fluke. A calendar date included in every recruiting pitch just after “come and play for Rick Pitino” had to be Wednesday, November 28, 2007. Ground breaking day for Louisville’s downtown arena. Target date for completion is Oct. 1, 2010.

Thanks, Gentlemen

Football fans in Kentucky have seldom enjoyed the quality of college football seen here in 2007.

Eastern Kentucky’s OVC champion Colonels are headed back to the playoffs where EKU has been a staple. Kudos to Roy Kidd Trophy winner, and OVC coach of the year Danny Hope.

We bid a fond and respectful fare-the-well to Heisman candidates Brian Brohm and Andre Woodson, marvelous pass catchers Keenan Burton and Harry Douglas and workhorse TEs, Gary Barnidge and Jacob Tamme. Wesley Woodyard is consummate leader of men.

These, and their comrades, gave us moments to cheer and moments to tear up.

Tribute

Among Kentuckians who contributed mightily to make basketball what it is here, we pay tribute this week to Rick Bolus (Shepherdsville), Mary Taylor Cowles (Bowling Green), Julian Tackett (Lexington), Rick Bentley (Pikeville) and Russell Rice (Lexington).

Just Wondering Dept.

Andre Woodson ran the option twice against Tennessee Saturday. ABC analyst Steve Beuerlein recalled doing same at Notre Dame. It led us to wonder whatever happened to (media) critics who skewered Bill Curry (for years) after Tim Couch ran the option once? And so it goes.

E-mail Bob Watkins at sprtsinky@aol.com.

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