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Sports in Kentucky

Are we too hard on Spurrier? Nah



Maybe critics have been too hard on Steve Spurrier. Maybe Kentucky fans who can almost taste a win at Columbia and desperately want roasted Steve Superior on the tailgate party grill after, simply don’t understand the old Ball Coach. Nah.

South Carolina’s smirky coach has dismissed Kentucky and run up scores too many times. He deserves it. But Spurrier is still a fox. His teams are 14-0 against UK including a few out-foxed-ya-again jobs and a few more run-up-the-scores.

This week, Rich Brooks’ eighth ranked Wildcats look to have their best chance ever to stick it to the Ball Coach. More important, opportunity is at hand to seize top rung of the SEC East standings.

In an emotionally charged game matching America’s Nos. 8 and 11 ranked teams, fans tuned to ESPN Thursday should take a rally call cue for the late Cawood Ledford who said, “Buckle up your seat belts, folks. It’s gonna be a war.”

Kentucky leads the SEC in scoring offense, 46-plus a game. South Carolina ranks first against the pass.

Kentucky is second in rushing offense. South Carolina is tenth against the run.

Buckle up your seat belts, folks. It’s gonna be a war.

UK’s Game Of Year?

If Kentucky conquers South Carolina Thursday, and I am among those who believe it will, these things will happen:

1. Officially make UK bowl eligible and put Brooks’ team into another never-been-therebefore sentence that includes the acronym BCS.

2. The Wildcats would end a seven straight loss streak to the Gamecocks. UK’s last win was in Columbia, 1999. 3. Rank as Kentucky’s biggest football win on the road in 30 years. This week, in 1977 the Wildcats beat Penn State at Happy Valley on the way to a 10-1 season.

4. Shut down Steve Spurrier usual assessments “… then there’s Kentucky and Vanderbilt.”

5. Would be a windfall for UK hoops master Billy Clyde Gillispie also. With LSU coming to Lexington Oct. 13, Gillispie’s team could do its work away from the madding crowd (except a throng already in a tent city outside Memorial Coliseum). Imagine, Wildcat basketball being a blip on the October screen. Life is good.

Mackey Light Dims

Bud Mackey is a “light it up caliber basketball player.”

But Scott County High’s hoops star was behind bars last week. Charged with drug possession within 1,000 yards of a school and trafficking in cocaine. Incredible. Unless there is an equally incredible misunderstanding, Mackey is just another kid who may have thrown away his golden egg. There is little doubt Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson would give Mackey a second chance, but federal grand juries are not so forgiving when an indictment includes trafficking.

A senior, Mackey had arrived at the last go-around as a kid on the cusp of his last season being a kid whose goals were All-State, All-America, Mr. Basketball and media swoon. Then a scholarship to Indiana U.

Incredible. If there is another word that smacks your face with more shock than incredible, pencil it in here.

Today, whether found innocent or guilty Mackey is the latest model for tragic decisionmaking. We implore tax-payers to be unrelenting in helping or pressuring Scott County and State law enforcement to track down those who enticed Mackey into this circumstance and prosecute them to the maximum.

Meanwhile, if you’re a parent hug your kids today then nail up a bulletin board outside the kid’s bedroom and cut out and post every newspaper story documenting Bud Mackey’s path to jail and what comes next. Found innocent or not, Mackey is example how quickly basketball stardom and celebrity becomes a pimple of importance next to the indelible tattoo of felony drug charges.

No ‘Told You So’

From Barnhart

Mitch Barnhart has practiced quiet dignity as UK football turns to October. Seen on sidelines at football games, the director of athletics has wisely stayed below media radar. Says much about the AD considering the sustained criticism (blush) he endured for hiring Rich Brooks.

Barnhart is also savvy enough to not revel in “Told You So.” Rightfully, his focus is on UK football as a model for blending wins and academics. The spoils come with it – national media attention, another bowl game for fans and yes, end-of-season dollar figures.

Gee, maybe, like Tom Jurich, Barnhart is a genius too. Postscript: We hope Barnhart schedules a game a week before Governor’s Cup ’08.

Parting Shot

Has Voice of the Kentucky Wildcats Tom Leach, improved along with the football team? Yes. Leach has settled in. His play-by-lay call is immaculate. Among differences in his call are, a UK first-and-10 is part of a drive instead of being a screamworthy accomplishment. And, since Andre Woodson Inc. has made the fourth quarter into high drama, the frequency of Leach screeching ‘Touchdown, Kentucky!’ is tolerable too.

And so it goes.

It’s free. Know a U.S. serviceman overseas who would be interested in receiving Sports In Ky.? E-mail Bob Watkins at sprtsinky@aol.com Have a point of view you’d like to share? Same e-mail address.

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