Whitesburg KY
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Wildcat fans excited this year

As we enter the backside of another summer and draw closer to another college sports season, I can’t recall another year that the entire Wildcat Nation fan base in the big four sports of football, men’s and women’s basketball, and baseball, as excited as they are going into the 2007-08 college sports year.

Let’s take a look at each team’s situation entering ’07-08:

Football – Rich Brooks enters his fifth season at the helm of Wildcat football with his best team to date. The Cats are coming off an 8-5 campaign with a Music City Bowl win over top- 25 Clemson to cap off the surprise season of the SEC in 2006, and arguably the entire nation. If that’s not enough to get excited about, add to it six returning starters that are legitimate playmakers (four on offense, two on defense) and all have garnered some type of preseason honors in most preseason publications. To top it all off, eight of the Wildcats’ 12 games are played in the friendly confines of Commonwealth Stadium.

Men’s basketball – Billy Clyde Gillispie has created an excitement across the Commonwealth not seen since the Pitino years of the mid ’90s – and this all with never having coached a game in Rupp Arena. It makes one wonder if there were a lot more disgruntled fans out there during the last three years of Tubby Ball in Wildcat land, but they just felt hopeless in expressing their thoughts so they just sat quiet or chose another team or sport to be a fan of. Many told me they just had no interest in Wildcat hoops during this time and now those same people have come out of the woodwork in support of Billy Clyde. I hope they have patience because I see five or six games that could be ugly losses unless Billy Clyde has a rabbit or two to pull out of his Texas background. Cat opponents better get well next year because, with the November signing class Gillispie is lining up for the Joe Craft Center and Rupp Arena, the Cats won’t have any weaknesses come ’08-09.

Women’s basketball – Mickie DeMoss built a women’s basketball program at UK that flirted with top-25 status for the first time in many years early last winter, only to resign abruptly at season’s end. I’m not sure yet what happened but I’ve been around high school and college coaches for many years and never have I seen one voluntarily resign from a head coaching position at a Div. 1 program drawing a fat paycheck with perks, to come back days later and take an assistant job at another school, and a football school at that.

I smell a rat here, just don’t know if it was the former coach’s unhappiness toward the administration or the A.D.’s office’s unhappiness with the former coach. It does intrigue me that the resignation came only days after Billy Clyde’s arrival. I don’t believe for a minute that it was burnout on the coach’s part.

Be that as it may, new coach Matthew Mitchell has been well received by the Wildcat faithful that follow the women’s program. If you think the football and men’s basketball players are happy with their coach, just ask Sarah Elliott and friends how excited they are to have Mitchell leading their team. To quote one player, “I think we can take that final step now into a legitimate and consistent top-25 women’s hoops power because coach Mitchell won’t let us underachieve in any area or phase of the game.” There is something to be said for a coach that wants to be at a school and is thankful for the job and opportunity as compared to one that is at times looking around to compare the program to others on campus for just comparison’s sake.

Baseball – Some say John Cohen’s team took a step backward in 2007 going 34-19-1; I’m not in that corner. What most college sports fans don’t understand is that SEC baseball is much more competitive than football or basketball. It’s good 1 through 12. All 12 teams have a # 1 pitcher that can beat the other 11 teams when on the mound. Besides, Cohen’s team had a couple injuries early in the season that drastically changed the offense and starting pitching rotation. Cohen has quietly brought in back-toback recruiting classes that will drastically impact the 2008 SEC baseball season. Don’t think for a minute that what Louisville did last spring didn’t eat at Cohen’s and his players’ guts every morning they picked up a paper. Look for Cohen and his Bat Cats to have a year in 2008 similar to 2006.

Tickets available

UK season football tickets (for what might be the most exciting schedule in America) are still available. Sideline season tickets for the eight home games are $248 each and end zone tickets are $199.

Single game tickets for UK’s home games against Eastern Kentucky University, Sept. 1; Kent State, Sept. 8; Florida Atlantic, Sept. 29; and Miss. State, Oct. 27 (homecoming), are now available for purchase. Single game tickets cost $30 each.

All ticket packages can be ordered over the internet at: www.ticketmaster.com or over the phone toll free at 1-800-928- CATS or 1-859-257-1818.

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