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Sports in Kentucky

UK, UofL getting summer notice


 

 

Buzz around UK football early last week had Michael Hartline moving ahead of Curtis Pulley at quarterback.

Not so fast, offensive coordinator Joker Phillips said a day later. The starting quarterback job is still too close to call.

Mid-week news: Coach Rich Brooks fell out of a fishing boat.

Late week news: A football magazine writer had time enough on his hands to create bulletin board fodder suggesting UK’s non-league schedule was fourthworst in the nation.

By week’s end UK message board fans were buzzing about an ESPN projection – Kentucky versus Rutgers in the ’08 Papa John Bowl.

Month of June was remarkable for Kentucky football. The Wildcats had not commanded so much early summer news since Curtis Pulley was a pup in Hopkinsville.

Times, they are a’changing.

Land of Knuckleheads?

Louisville wide receiver JaJuan Smith was pulled over by Louisville police last week, charged with smoking dope, possession of a loaded and unregistered handgun and driving with no insurance. Was his second DUI charge this year.

Strike two. You’re out.

In the wee hours of last Sunday morning, wide receiver Trent Guy arrived at a hospital suffering from a gunshot wound, result of a scuffle in a nightclub.

Is UofL football the latest Land of Knuckleheads on a perp walk list that reminds us of bad boys past at Florida State, Oklahoma and Miami?

With the ’08 Governor’s Cup eight weeks away, if Cardinals coach Steve Kragthorpe is going to have a football team maybe he should hurry it up a little. Establish a boot camp now. Set a curfew, post guards and string concertina wire.

Given last season’s disaster, followed by a stampede of transfers, left early(s) and quit-theteamers, coupled with ongoing trouble with Jefferson County law enforcement, it’s circle the wagons time at the UofL football compound.

Lest Cardinal fans forget these embarrassments, ESPN will certainly review off-field shenanigans as part of its promotion for the Kentucky game August 31. Meanwhile, we will watch how Tom Jurich spins damage control.

We wonder when Kragthorpe will catch a break?

And, we wonder if kicking Bob Petrino around again might change the subject?

Stay tuned.

Rule Has Hole In It

College and professional basketball had a problem. The 19- year-old rule was designed to solve it – stop high schoolers jumping from study hall to the NBA.

Didn’t work. The high schoolto NBA jump became college one-and-done. Thank you, Sonny Vaccaro.

Meet Brandon Jennings. A “look at me, ain’t I great?” prima donna at Oak Hill Academy last season, who had a scholarship ride with Arizona. But, after a Vaccaro enlightenment on beating the rules, he said, “nah, I’m skipping the college scene.”

“For a person (who) plays ball, our dream is to get to the NBA. College is like, okay, we’ll do this one year, but our real mind-set is we’re trying to get to the league. They’re making us do college so we feel like, let’s do one year, go to class half the time.”

Go to class half the time?

If a European club team will offer a lucrative one-year deal, which is doubtful, Jennings will cross the Atlantic and play until the next draft.

I think Jennings and those who think like him, should grab the European option.

Basketball overseas. Europe, Japan, South America or NBA Developmental League, whatever. Get outa here! College basketball has a full quota of pretenders already.

Free up scholarships for student athletes who take what we will call the Tayshaun Prince route.

Re: Enjoy the last days before the job, play for fun, grow up, learn to handle setbacks, develop roots to a college. It’s education.

After the ball stops bouncing, college grads rise up to join the next generation that will set the next tax codes for rich and uneducated ex-jocks like Jennings.

Bits ‘n Pieces

• LaRue County High School pitcher Aaron Mayfield was highlighted in Sports Illustrated’s Faces In the Crowd last week. He pitched consecutive perfect games against Corbin and Heath, finished his season 11-2 and was named to the West All-stars in Kentucky’s East-West Game.

• Oklahoma State director of athletics Mike Holder and his wife donated $1 million to his university for academics, the school announced last week. Some precedent, an AD giving money for academics. Yo, Mitch Barnhart and Tom Jurich, you’re up.

Readers (Right) Write.

Perry in Madisonville, “I could not believe Bobby Veach was not a member of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame. Mr. Veach, from St. Charles, played 14 years in the big leagues, mostly with the Tigers. Veach is also the only player to ever pinch hit for Babe Ruth after Ruth was no longer a pitcher. Arguably, Veach should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, yet is not in the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame.”

COMMENT: According to the Baseball Encyclopedia, Veach played 14 Big League seasons (1912-25), 12 with the Tigers, had 2,063 hits, 1,166 RBI, 195 stolen bases, and a career average of .310.

Veach is one more indicator the Athletic Hall of Fame committee has a blind spot or no enthusiasm for researching beyond the 1950s.

Just Wondering

Measuring the ascendancy of University of Kentucky football has many yardsticks. Here’s one: Top rated in-state high school prospect for 2008 is Jordan Whiting at Louisville Trinity. The 6- 0, 220-pound linebacker has verbally committed to Ohio State.

Can Whiting be turned, sign with Kentucky?

Stay tuned. And so it goes.

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