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Sports in Kentucky

A ‘gorgeous’ win



Amid the fickle peculiarities in sports is the short memory. Two years ago, Mark Richt was Mahatma of Athens, Georgia. This week, he’s a bum.

Kentucky? Punctuating the victory chants after beating Georgia, analysis was about style points and winning ugly.

Laughable? Yes.

Not so many autumns ago the common UK coach complaint was, “… we need to be better in the fourth quarter” and “… we need more depth to finish a game.”

Not long ago, a splendid onehanded touchdown pass reception like the one La’Rod King hauled in would happen for the other team. A fumble recovery at the 1-yard line would be the nail in Kentucky’s coffin. A killer interception by a big ol’ lineman would happen for the other team.

This week, instead of four-turnover production and a 27-7 second half on Georgia’s Senior Night, analysis was Kentucky’s victory was not pretty.

No, it was gorgeous, and a long time coming. Style points? Who’s counting? The Thanksgiving conversation, is as it should be, about football.

How long until “… at Kentucky a 7-5 record is no longer acceptable?”

Outback Bowl?

No more “wait ‘til next year” for Kentucky football.

Maybe the new call of arms will be “wait ‘til the second half” (at Georgia) or “wait ‘til this Saturday” (Tennessee).

Suddenly, as quick you can say, “pass the dressing, please,” Rich Brooks’s team is “this close” to a second-place finish in the SEC East.

Beating the Vols would launch the team picked to finish last in its division onto the threshold of a New Year’s Day date in Tampa with a $3.3 million pay-out.

Outback Bowl. Possible opponent, Northwestern (8-4).

A win against the Vols has landmark ramifications.

1. End a losing streak that began when a gallon of gas was $1.24. 1984.

2. Cap an eight-win season for the first time in 25 years.

3. Create the biggest two-day television bonanza in the history of the school: Bowl Game on Friday (ESPN) and Louisville at Kentucky basketball on Saturday afternoon (CBS).

On Kentucky’s Senior Night, Tennessee is favored by three. Perfect.

Thanksgiving Thanks

In America’s college sports passing parade BCS football conversation overlaps basketball’s debut month of one shining moment(s) and write-us-a-check for little dogs and white beach holiday tournaments for big ones.

“Thanksgiving dinners take 18 hours to prepare,” Erma Bombeck said. “They’re consumed in 12 minutes. Half-times take 12 minutes. This is not coincidence.”

Touchdown, Erma! We recall Texas-Texas A&M and Army-Navy on Thursday with anticipation for Saturday’s Kentucky-Tennessee contest on Saturday. When it was a contest.

This week, take a seat, make a choice and consider …

First, good health. Second, our men and women in military ser- vice far from home. I am thankful for a 90-year-old mother whose eyes still sparkle and beautiful granddaughter ready to arrive any minute.

Among the thankfuls …

1. Kentucky football fans are thankful to have a young coach. Rich Brooks is 67 going on 30, ascending to be the school’s most popular football coach ever and deserves a pay hike.

2. Kentucky fans thank Georgia for last Saturday and the Peach State’s recruiting pipeline to Lexington.

3. John Calipari must be thankful his freshmen are beginning to see college games are won not on Sportscenter highlights, but at the defensive end.

4. Smart UK hoops fans are thankful Miami’s red hot shootin’ Redhawks and Sam Houston State re-affirm “on a given night” Gardner Webb and VMI were not the turkeys some media said they were.

5. Western Kentucky lame duck football coach Dave Elson may be hot under the collar as he cleans his L.T. Smith Stadium office, but there’s a $500,000 coolant in his bank account.

6. Billy Clyde Gillispie is sober, humbled, wiser and happier with his bank account. Thank UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart.

7. Patrick Patterson is doubledouble thankful to have rookie DeMarcus Cousins in the low post leaving Patterson to roam to the 3- line during his money season.

8. Should-be thankfuls: Cousins, John Wall and Eric Bledsoe having Patterson to whisper in their collective ears: “Pssst. Guys, you don’t win at this level trying to get on Sportscenter. Better ramp up your defense!”

9. Thankfully, when Patrick Patterson sits in the NBA’s Green Room and hears his name called early, he will smile at the ultimate double-double. Millions in his account and a college degree in his pocket.

10. Mitch Barnhart is thankful, too, for $ugar Joe Craft’s $timulus package.

11. Thanks, Louisville Steve Kragthorpe, for a chin-up sunny attitude as you prepare to walk the plank.

12. UK football fans are thankful their coaches may have recruited a Wildcat version of Alabama prime-timer Julio Jones — La’Rod King.

13. No thanks to and shame on the tattoo guy who defaced Louisville freshman Michael Marra’s body. Kid looks like a walking Egyptian hieroglyph.

14. Thanks to University of Louisville president Dr. James Ramsey for inspiring Lee Todd at Kentucky to turn down a performance bonus.

15. Thanks, Georgia Bulldogs, for four turnovers and all those 15- yard flags on Senior Night handing Kentucky its best Thanksgiving in the Brooks Era.

16. Thanks to Darrin Horn (graduate and head coach at Western 2003-07). His legacy to Hilltopper Basketball: Perfect balance scholarship and athletics.

NCAA figures released last week on graduation rates dating from 2002, show Western Kentucky graduated 100 per cent of its basketball student-athletes. No other school was close. Lagging behind were the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky, with 38 and 31 percent respectively.

Parting Shot

Blog entry from a Georgia fan after Saturday’s loss to Kentucky.

“Note to Mark Richt: Whatever the halftime speech you gave your team was, don’t do that anymore. I’m guessing it went something like this: ‘All right, fellers, I guess this game’s over. Let’s start thinking about Georgia Tech. I sure could go for some tacos. How ‘bout you?”

And, so it goes. Happy Thanksgiving.

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