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Sports in Kentucky

Rich Brooks’ Way?



Except we’re still breathing and young Harrison Barnes freshens our optimism, Year 2009 rates somewhere in range of an N1H1 booster to the gluteus maximus, and a triple tablespoon of castor oil. Or both.

Not good! But good for us.

The first decade of the millennium was the Decade from Hell, Time
magazine said. In sports, except for the Yankees, Mine That Bird and a shootist named Ty Rogers, it could be a 10-year span worth forgetting. Steroids and denials, bad tattoos, tweets and texting, nose rings, too much Ochocinco and Tiger, and barely enough Tebow, even with tears.

There was more grumbling about the BCS format by media herd smart guys better at talk than walk. And a parade of bad jokes about the fallen — Alex Rodriquez, Rick Pitino, Billy Gillispie, Tiger Woods, Dave Letterman and the list went on.

This week, on the threshold of a new decade, you have your lists, I have mine. A few things I would like to see in 2010:

• Rich Brooks retire. With a cue from Urban Meyer’s stress, UK’s 68-year-old coach has earned the right to enjoy the daisies and time to smell ’em. And, a stretch of Cooper Drive in Lexington should be named Rich Brooks’ Way (with the apostrophe).

• University of Kentucky brainstorm crew breaks from its plantation boss shoe company and hustling t-shirts, and recognize a market for a slick video “2KUK” documentary. From its considerable archive, creation of a tradition flavored and skillfully edited DVD targeting middle-age to gray age Kentucky fans. Starting point: First NCAA title (and Olympic gold medal), 1947-48 season.

A documentary putting in play all the elements — highs and how, whens and whys and lows too, with personalities including largest among them, Man in the Brown Suit.

It could be a project worthy of highest narrative quality — done by Ashley Judd and Will Lyman (PBS’s Frontline).

Profits? 2KUK scholarships for deserving students across the Commonwealth with no other financial means to attend ever more expensive Flagship U.

For Mitch Barnhart and his people, carpe diem.

• The NCAA should trash any idea to expand the NCAA basketball tournament field. It ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

• If something does need fixing, could be football’s BCS. We hope television waves enough cash in faces of budget-crunched university presidents to romance them into a playoff bonanza, uh, $ystem.

• Would like to see University of Cumberlands’ 40 hours of community service requirement for students to graduate, adopted for all students, especially scholarship athletes. With one caveat: Must be completed in first two years.

• Press release from Kentucky and Indiana Universities announcing renewal of Hoosiers- Wildcats football series.

• ESPN . . . more Len Elmore. An analyst who understands economic use of words and advocate to shelve the cheapest one in sports . . . grrrr-e-a-t.

• Bob Knight does not allow ESPN to schedule him to excess. (See Jimmy Dykes) Was good yesterday, today . . . chirps too much.

In 2010, I hope:

• Dr. Orlando Tubby Smith has his day at Rupp Arena with a jersey (High Point College?) hoisted into the rafters.

• John Wall recognizes the media herd mooooo-ing over Tiger Woods until he became a talk show joke, is the same bunch braying at his greatness.

• To see progress between DeMarcus Cousins’s ears. Big Cuz grows from Big Whine, past Big Moody to big NBA contract.

• We hope for a revival at Arkansas to reaffirm John Pelphrey did not leave South Alabama one job too soon.

• John Wall announces, “Hey, I’m having a great time. Fan love is cool, teevee loves me . . . the money can wait. I’m coming back.” (stop laughing)

• Charlie Strong hires an offensive mind capable of returning Louisville football to Big East title talk and BCS buzz. Maybe he already did, Mike Sanford.

• New era at the Kentucky High School Athletics Association after retiring Commissioner Brigid DeVries. We hope for new ideas and more vision for dealing before rules are violated instead of punishments after.


• ESPN’s Jeanine Edwards. Billy Gillispie was clueless about many things while at Kentucky, but he was right about Jeanine Edwards and dumb questions. During UK’s 2,000th win against Drexel, Edwards was a soppy cheerleader with weak questions and more emcee than reporter. Still, despite gushing over John Wall, she resisted asking for an autograph. On camera.

E-mail Bob Watkins at

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