Year 2007 in sports had more twists, turns, drama and surprises than a stew of the Mitchell Report, Barry-gate, Marion Jones’ confession, Belichick-gate, Mitch Barnhart’s search for hoops coach, and Billy Donovan’s Orlando U-turn, all stirred in the same pot.
This week, one man’s opinion of high and low lights in ’07.
First. highest high and lowest low.
HIGH. Kentucky stunned a national teevee audience doing an Ali Shuffle on Sonny Liston’s No. 1 ranked LSU in triple overtime.
LOW. Bud Mackey, promising Mr. Basketball candidate, headed to Indiana on scholarship, was arrested and charged with drug trafficking at Scott County High School.
HIGH. December. Rich Brooks’ name popped up on Coach-of-Year lists and there was media silence across the south. Save one, nary a sports writer wrote, “Gee, I was wrong about this guy.” One who did sits in this chair.
LOW. December. Five weeks into the season and popular team men David Padgett at Louisville and promising Derrick Jasper at Kentucky had not played leaving both teams with a severe leadership void.
HIGH. October. UK receiver Steve Johnson touchdown catches against Louisville and LSU. Game winners. Loved those locks.
LOW. September. Louisville lost to lowly Syracuse, at home.
HIGH. April. Randolph Morris left Kentucky creating a scholarship vacancy for a kid who wants to go to college. LOW. November. Ex-Louisville football star Michael Bush was on the NFLOakland Raiders roster listed as physically unable to perform.
HIGH. April. Tubby Smith made a dignified exit from Lexington, took the Minnesota job to national media applause which became broad-brush ridicule for Kentucky fans.
LOW. September. Five games into Steve Kragthorpe’s five year contract at Louisville, a media member wondered if Tom Jurich would issue a vote of confidence for his football coach.
HIGH. December. Buck stop in Morgantown? West Virginia University sued ex-football coach Rich Rodriquez last week for breach of contract. $4 million.
LOW. December. 23s. Kentucky’s football team lost to Tennessee for the 23rd year in a row. UK’s basketball Wildcats had a four-game losing streak before Christmas for the first time in 23 years.
HIGH. March. Caldwell County High all-stater Matt Fraliex had 46 points in a blowout win and was lifted by his coach. Moments later Fraliex was put back into the lineup. His three free throws set a new school scoring record by a single point. The old one was held by his coach Mike Fraliex.
LOW. April. Mickie DeMoss left UK women’s basketball.
HIGH. December. Randy Sanders flirted with Western Carolina, but UK’s quarterbacks coach could be back in Lexington next season. Given Sanders’ success w
ith Andre Woodson, his stock could sky-rocket tutoring a Curtis Pulley-Michael Hartline competition.
LOW. November. At homecoming, Western came from ahead and lost to future D-1 rival Troy State.
HIGH. November. The Paul Hornung Award for Kentucky’s outstanding high school football player went to a pair of interior linemen, tackles Dave Ulinski (Manual) and Sam Robey (Trinity).
LOW. December. With NCAA Big Dance resumé points at stake, Darrin Horn’s Western Hilltoppers took an oh-fer, losing to Gonzaga, Tennessee and Souther Illinois.
HIGH. December. Travis Ford’s UMass team faces a tough go in the feisty Atlantic- 10, but Minutemen wins at Syracuse and Boston College could be the difference when Big Dance at-large invites are issued. HIGH. November. Lone Oak High’s football dream season, 14-1.
HIGH. November. Coach of year recognition for Lone Oak’s Jack Haskins adding to his qualification for KHSAA Hall of Fame induction. Added qualifier? Coach of the year fathered Mr. Football, Billy Jack (1992).
LOW. Mario Urrutia, promising receiver at Louisville, quit too soon. will stand for the NFLdraft.
HIGH. December. Coaches carousel in Kentucky. In relative order of their devotion to school and loyalty student-athletes, coaches who kept their word, honored contracts and did not shop themselves for other jobs: 1. Rich Brooks at Kentucky; 2. Happy Osborne, Georgetown; 3. Darrin Horn, Western Kentucky; 4. Rick Pitino at Louisville.
LOW. December. Arkansas hired Bob Petrino.
HIGH. Petrino as main focus in the Name-Calling category. All-about-me, No class. Coward. Gutless. Petrino has heard them all, deserves them all.
LOW. December. Kentucky’s Patrick Patterson’s field goal average is 68 per cent, but he’s getting 10 shots a game. Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley average 21 shots.
HIGH. April. “What Kentucky (basketball fans) don’t understand is that the days when you can dominate are over.” – Clem Haskins.
Finally, we lost a number of remarkable people in Kentucky sports in 2007. Among them: author David Halberstam, players Ralph Beard and Tom Kron and passionate fan, Jed Dillingham.
And so it goes.
Happy New Year.
Have a point of view you’d like to share? E-mail bob Watkins at SprtsinKy@aol.com