Whitesburg KY

UK doesn’t impress at SEC Media Days

Sports in Kentucky



Uncanny the things that have bedeviled football at University of Kentucky since legendary coach Bear Bryant left for Texas A&M in 1953.

At last week’s SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama, UK Coach Mark Stoops did not emphasize one of his highly-ranked recruiting classes coming on line or show optimism for eight home dates.

Instead, Stoops repeated the same lines we’ve heard by other UK coaches over the last six decades — “… making Kentucky football relevant again,” “… we understand the expectations. We’re doing the best we can.”

Basically, those same words came out of the mouths of John Ray, Fran Curci, Bill Curry, Hal Mumme, and Joker Phillips.

Doing his best to sing the virtues of UK’s fan base and facilities, Stoops moved a headline writer at the Atlanta Constitution to scorch Big Blue Nation with these words: Idle interest in Kentucky football.

Idle interest? The evidence is there:

• UK administrators trying to sell tickets, picked SEC Media Days to announce ticket distribution plans for Big Blue Madness.

• Defensive back A.J. Stamps proclaiming that “six games is all we’ve gotta get. I don’t care which six they are.”

• ESPN’s bowl projections for SEC teams do not include UK, but the network says pivotal games against Mississippi State (in Starkville, October 24) and Tennessee (Lexington, October 31) could change things.

• At the end, the media crowd applied the customary bedevilment. Citing UK history – no winning season since 2009, none in SEC play since 1977 – it voted Kentucky where it always does: behind all but Vanderbilt.

Stamps Remark Intrigues

Six wins is the goal? In context of progress under Stoops, is this player’s prediction a reflection of where UK football still is?

With eight home games and a ticket office needing all the hype it can get, Stamps might have been better prepped to apply a little bravado: “Our goal is to run the table, boys and girls. Period.”

It’s Year III of the Stoops era. Who and how many high rated recruits coming out of red shirts are SEC-ready?

Instead of promoting arrangements for Big Blue Madness during football media days, UK officials ought to concentrate on wooing fans to invest in eight home football games.

Change Before Our Eyes!

Funny, in a dark humor sort of way, how the media can magically change definition before our eyes of the images we see.

• Steve Spurrier. Originally, the title of Ol’ Ball Coach was not one of endearment. Spurrier was an arch-villain for fans who seethed when his Florida teams ran up scores on Kentucky.

Spurrier turned 70 last April. A senior citizen, he is now praised for being opposite of bland. At a podium last week, the Ol’ Ball Coach was funny and the media wanted him around.

Before our very eyes, the Ol’ Ball coach is re-invented.

• The flag. What SEC mediatype paused to think about, ask about, pontificate about or crusade against the Confederate flag during the SEC’s Media Days, especially since the conference has displayed what many see as symbols of segregation on buildings, statues and college campuses since 1933?

Answer: Nobody. Too far left of political correctness and job jeopardy

At this summer’s SEC Media days, coaches were prodded to preach a little. None did, but an hilarious response to the flag flap came from Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen.

“I don’t see it very often,” he said. “We don’t have it on our campus. I do know we’re the most diverse campus in the Southeastern Conference. I know the university embraces that diversity as a whole. I certainly embrace that diversity. We’re so diverse, they have a Yankee as the head football coach in the Southeastern Conference.”

Mullen was born in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania and grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Hoops Recruiting

July is still college basketball’s Third Season. Recruiting.

• Owensboro Apollo hasn’t had a prospect-in-demand like Eli Wright since Rex Chapman (1986). The 6-4 guard added UConn to a who’s-who list of D-I programs offering scholarships. Clemson, Indiana, Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, Purdue, Tennessee and Western Kentucky want Wright.

“If I go to prep school, then I’m probably going to commit in November,” Wright told The Daily News in Bowling Green. “If I don’t, I’m going to wait it out.”

Footnote: Brings to mind Quentin Goodin, Taylor County High’s Mr. Basketball candidate, who has offers from Michigan, Xavier, Miami, Florida and Western Kentucky.

Consider: A Cook-and- Wright combo at Western Kentucky would be a public relations coup and megaboost to Hilltopper basketball while bringing to mind happy days when an all-Kentucky starting lineup vaulted WKU to a Final Four in 1971.

• Dennis Smith Junior, five-star shooting guard in Fayette, North Carolina, said Kentucky had joined Louisville, North Carolina State and Wake Forest in offering him a scholarship.

Lemme See Dept.

That’s $500,000-a-week. $2 million-plus a month. $24.1 million a year for six.

Ex- UK star Anthony Davis’s five-year extension with the New Orleans Pelicans starts next year and extends through his 28th birthday (March 11, 2021). Total to be paid to Davis? $145 million.

“Anthony is a great person, a phenomenal player and the ideal representative of his family, the Pelicans and the New Orleans community,” Pelicans General Manager Dell Demps told ESPN.

Maybe, Davis won’t be affected, like say, Tiger Woods.

And so it goes.

You can reach me at bob. Watkins24@aol.com

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