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August 2nd, 2015

Freddie Maggard shares Hall of Fame career memories

John Henson at the Harlan Daily Enterprise put together a nice piece on former UK quarterback, KSR contributor and recent inductee to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame, Freddie Maggard.

The article includes memories of Maggard’s career at Cumberland High School in Harlan County where he garnered 12 varsity letters in three sports and led the Cumberland football team to two state championship game appearances all while garnering All-State honors as a quarterback and defensive back in 1986.

Not content to just be a football star, Maggard was a four-year starter and All-State selection as a pitcher and center fielder for the Cumberland High School baseball team.  He posted a 28-1 record, a .400 career batting average and led Cumberland to three consecutive regional championships.

Maggard talks about his time at UK and the tough decision of choosing between baseball, where he had been drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1986, and football at Kentucky.

“I earned my starting position, but then I had my first shoulder injury and missed baseball, and then it was over. What drove me to UK is that I grew up in Kentucky, the university offered me a free education to play football and it was my obligation to play at the university. Maybe that’s old-fashioned, but that’s what I thought.”

Maggard said his intent with the Hall of Fame was to pay respect to the community and people who had gotten him to that point.

“I felt uncomfortable receiving an individual award for something I thought should have been presented to the community, but it was humbling and a great experience, something I will never forget. It’s an award and honor I will cherish the rest of my life.”

It was an award well-deserved Mr. Maggard.

You can read the full article here.

Isaac Humphries…the Big Man We Have Been Waiting For


It of course had to happen on Friday night. While I was in the far Western part of Kentucky for Fancy Farm, eating with the KSR crew at Patti’s Settlement (which is really, really good), the news that we have hinted at for a number of weeks finally broke. Kentucky is looking to add big man Isaac Humphries to the 2015 class to join the team this year. Many were surprised by the news, but those that listen to KSR were not. I have been hinting for 6 weeks that it was coming because this has been in the works for UK since the last two big men that UK was interested in for the 2015 class (Caleb Swanigan and Check Diallo) made decisions to go elsewhere. The Cats decided that Humphries, a talented big man that was initially supposed to be in the 2016 class, would be a good addition to this year and pay dividends for next, while not scaring off any top recruits. Plus, there was the added benefit of keeping the news relatively silent for a long time, thus not allowing other schools to come after him once they knew he was interested in reclassifying. It was, and is, a win-win.

Since the announcement, I have seen some UK fans online complaining that they don’t think Humphries is good enough or the signing doesn’t make sense, all the while having never watched him play one game ever. That is of course an idiotic and uninformed opinion. If you haven’t at this point learned to give Calipari a little benefit of the doubt, you never will. Here is the thinking behind adding Humphries from UK’s side…the Australian is a big guy that the Cats see as a meaty body for this year, who can develop into a Jorts-like contributor in the second year. They like the talent that he has and his ability to shoot and rebound. While the 2016 class is loaded with perimeter players and long athletes that can fly, true big men aren’t in high abundance. Calipari knows he will lose Skal and Poythress this year and realizes he could lose Marcus Lee depending on how things go. While Kentucky will likely get Sacha Killeya-Jones and likely one more big man, having Humphries allows a top 50 talent who can develop and be very good over time. That is a win-win. Plus, Isaac is tough and on a team this year that may lack a little toughness (outside of Tyler Ulis), that is a very valuable commodity.

It is important to note however that Humphries is not yet eligible to play at Kentucky this year. Since the decision to reclassify was made late, he has had to take a number of classes to get eligible for next year and that process has not been completed. It will not be done for the next 2 weeks or so and that is partially why the news had not been leaked. It came out this weekend after he visited while camps were in town and because he was with Jamal Murray a great deal (they are friends from various international events). Before everyone assumes he is on the team, this process has to finish and he has to actually get eligible.

I see the addition of Humphries as a great one for UK…he provides a big body for this year and has a chance to develop into a very good player. Calipari isn’t out for charity cases…this is a Top 50 talent who is VERY big while also being skilled. It is another late grab for Kentucky from Calipari and one that I think will be big both this year, and in the future.

A Moment of Zen: How Matt Jones’ Jon Stewart Turn Brought Fresh Air to the Hot Air of Fancy Farm



While the first Saturday in May presents Kentucky to the world in its most luxuriously resplendent garb, the first Saturday in August casts a truer light on our Commonwealth and what our politics has come to be.

Fancy Farm weekend, named after the tiny, far-western Kentucky hamlet in which St. Jerome’s Catholic Church hosts the “world’s largest one-day barbecue,” represents politics at its very best, or at least the way we’d like to remember it.  While the picnic is the main feature, for the past few decades, a full weekend’s worth of satellite activities have sprouted up all over the Jackson Purchase: meet and greets, watermelon smashes, bean suppers, country ham and egg breakfasts, even skeet-shooting competitions. There’s plenty of hand shaking and baby kissing and bear hugging and back slapping and tall-tale telling. Most importantly, it’s the only weekend of the year that the state’s most remote region receives the full attention of the big-city slickers, power-wielding politicos and hangers-on, as well the budget-depleted Frankfort press corps.

Unfortunately, when the main speaking event begins on Saturday at 2 p.m., we sometimes see politics at its very worst.  Many years, Fancy Farm becomes a hyper-partisan, name-calling screaming match, a microcosm of everything Americans hate about politics.  During key election cycles, even before the headlining speakers clear their throats, the furious chanting, the blindly acid-laced yelling begins in full force, unleashing vocal abuse on partisan enemies. As an eight-time veteran of that stage, I can witness that the noise is so intense that it becomes nearly impossible to hear yourself speak. (Check out this 2003 clip in which this soft-spoken Jewish pischer was transformed into Elmer Gantry.)

This year’s version did not veer far from the script, although it seemed a bit tamer than usual, perhaps because the speechifying was so predictable.  Every Democrat called out GOP gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin for his mendaciousness, usually culling quotes from Senator Mitch McConnell’s 2014 campaign against him. (“East Coast con man” and “pathological liar” headlined the party’s talking points.) Meanwhile, every Republican made sure to mention President Barack Obama’s name at least in every third sentence when describing the policies of the Democrats’ standard bearer, Attorney General Jack Conway, or the rest of his ticket.

But for a ten minute oasis at the top of the program — usually reserved for patriotic platitudes and bland historical remembrances — Fancy Farm was actually fun.  The jokes were actually funny.  And Kentucky’s favorite sports broadcaster — previously termed a motley amalgam of Bill Simmons, Keith Olberman and Howard Stern — morphed into a Bluegrass version of Jon Stewart.

Not all of Fancy Farm host Matt Jones’ jokes succeeded. (His standard bit about Rick Pitino lasting for 15 seconds was a bit too blue for the family-friendly church grounds.)  But his incisive satire, softened by good-natured humor and near-perfect comedic timing, was often both cleverly thought-provoking and LOL funny.  Jones landed jabs against the state’s leading Republicans, teasing McConnell for his discomfort with Bevin, Bevin for his resume fabrication, and Senator Rand Paul for his absence, peculiarly in light of his flailing presidential bid. Democrats too felt his friendly wrath: Conway for his 2009 Fancy Farm outburst, Governor Steve Beshear for his un-Democratic-like record, and Secretary of State Alison Lundgeran Grimes for her continued unwillingness to admit that she voted for Obama.  As usual, Jones’ jokes revolved around a familiar theme: that politics has become a game a verbal dodgeball; as campaigners blow hot air while avoiding the tough questions, the people lose. (Watch the whole thing here.)

Most impressively, Jones owned the Fancy Farm stage — more than any of the powerful and prominent figures that I’ve seen take that mike.  With his imposing frame, booming voice, and celebrity countenance, he was able to quiet the raucous chanters dexterously with clever quips or smiling pleas.  He elicited a rare, moving, bi-partisan moment when he elegantly introduced the GOP’s Lieutenant Governor nominee Jenean Hampton as history’s first woman of color to address the picnic.  And while some may have blanched when he all-too-familiarily referred to a presidential candidate as “Rand” and the second most powerful pol in the country as “Mitch,” I found it a refreshingly populist note amidst a crowd that often takes itself far too seriously.

Make no mistake: Matt Jones is my friend, and he pays me to write this column. (Although he never edits me or tells me what to write.)  But the very reason that I step out of my comfort zone on a weekly basis to share my pointy-headed thoughts to a rowdy KSR nation was on display yesterday afternoon in Graves County.  By stepping out of his comfort zone to discuss  politics instead of sports, Jones is not just simply opening up the public square to a new generation of Kentuckians who have eschewed our mainstream political media.  More significantly, Jones’ persistent scolding of pols to answer his questions — to quit the spin, to cut the crap — is injecting a desperately needed virtue back into our political dialogue: honesty.  And he’s doing it at a time when many Americans are so ravenous for pols to tell it like it is that they’re either falling for false prophets like Donald Trump, or abandoning politics all together.

Matt Jones calls himself an entertainer, not a journalist, and he’s the first to concede his biases. (He may be the only person ever to admit to voting for Barack Obama from the Fancy Farm stage.)  But as he dips his toes into the political waters, he’s providing a unique platform where Kentuckians can actually have an unfiltered, brutally honest, and often engaging discussion about the issues that really matter.  And that really does represent politics at its very best.

American Pharoah wins Haskell

Danny Johnston, AP

Danny Johnston, AP

The horse that gained fame as the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years has one his eighth race in a row. During his first time out since winning the Triple Crown, American Pharoah easily glided past competitors Keen Ice and Upstart to win the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth in New Jersey.

American Pharoah won by three-lengths in one minute and 47.8 seconds, but analysts say it could’ve been more had jockey Victor Espinoza not reigned the eager Pharoah in.

After American Pharoah’s win today, owner Ahmed Zayat addressed the cheering fans of the horse saying, “So grateful for all of you; it’s your horse.”

Trainer Bob Baffert said they haven’t decided if American Pharoah will race again and that they will evaluate the horse after today’s win.

If they do decide to race the champion, it will be lucrative.

The New York Racing Association announced Saturday that it would raise the purse for its Travers Stakes to $1.6 million if American Pharoah joined the race on August 29.

American Pharoah has earned more than $5.5 million so far in his career including today’s purse of $1.05 million.

Way to make Kentucky proud, American Pharoah!


The burn is strong with Matt Jones


In case you missed it, Matt Jones was on fire yesterday at Fancy Farm.

Being the generous guy he is, Matt left no one out in his speech at Fancy Farm. He took no prisoners: including Mitch McConnell, guberanatorial candidates Matt Bevin and Jack Conway, Rand Paul, Richie Farmer, Rick Pitino, Allison Lundergan-Grimes, and even the Governor himself. With his signature hand moves, he delivered burn after burn.

Matt had numerous jokes for his #1 fan McConnell, including my personal favorite around the 9-minute mark:

“I hear that after Mitch speaks he leaves. So when he leaves, you might have 99 problems, but a Mitch ain’t one.” 

Be sure to pause at the 3:22 mark for McConnell’s death ray stare at Matt.

KSR posted it earlier, but here is the video of Matt’s interview with KET before the event. Matt talks about why he doesn’t consider himself a journalist, the need to discourage long-winded callers and not making his mom mad during his speech.

Great job, Matt! I can’t wait for the gubernatorial debate on KSR, hopefully their will be more jokes about Conway’s perfect coif and Bevin’s educational pursuits.


Dawson ready to bring the speed


Fall camp begins for Kentucky football later this week and there is one word on UK Offensive Coordinator Shannon Dawson’s mind: Speed.

“I can get that fast stuff taught in the fall very easily,” Dawson said. “We’re going to go fast. There’s no doubt about it.”

Dawson told the Lexington Herald-Leader he will be ratcheting up the tempo on the offensive end, by implementing the quick attack he had in place at his previous schools. Dawson’s Mountaineer offense was one of the quickest in the nation and he hopes to bring that speed to Commonwealth Stadium.

Dawson’s offenses have averaged 76.7 plays per game, which is nearly two more plays per game than Neal Brown’s ideal pace of 75 plays per game. Dawson says he is shooting for 85 plays per game.

Which might sound like a stretch, after all, Kentucky’s average last season was 70.8 plays per game, but Dawson has come close before. The offensive coordinator was able to get West Virginia up to 84.4 plays per game last season.

Couple that information with reports of QB’s Patrick Towles and Drew Barker fairly smooth transition from Brown to Dawson, and the Kentucky offense may have a few more tricks up their sleeves this season.

Are you ready for the fast lane?

Two Juco players to enroll at UK this fall


Kentucky’s defensive line will be getting a needed upgrade this week. According to 247Sports, defensive end Alvonte Bell and defensive tackle Courtney Miggins from Pearl River Community college plan to enroll at UK in the coming days.

Bell originally signed with the Cats out of high school, but a broken leg forced him to the junior college ranks. He reportedly turned down offers from Florida State, Washington, and Arizona to join Kentucky this year. Miggins held offers Mississippi State and NC State.

The two add some necessary depth to Kentucky’s front line. Good to have ya, fellas.

Recruiting update: De’Aaron Fox


As next year’s roster finally starts to solidify, it’s time to start looking at the class of 2016. While Kentucky currently has no commitments (save Tai Wynyard, who might suit up this year) Calipari certainly feels good about the prospects. Earlier this week, he said that next year’s class could be his “best ever.

A scary thought, indeed.

Along with the likes Rawle Alkins, Miles Bridges, Harry Giles, and Kobi Simmons – one name to watch is De’Aaron Fox. Rumor has it that Kentucky has been gaining a lot of momentum in his recruitment lately, and might be the current leader.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at De’Aaron and his recuitment.

Things to Know

Hometown: Katy, Texas
School: Cypress Lakes High School
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 170 lbs
247 Sports’ Rank: 4th overall, 1st PG
Also Considering: Kansas, Texas, Arizona, and Louisville
2014-15 Stats: 23.8 PPG, 3.5 APG, 6.1 RPG

Playing Style

De’Aaron’s had a killer summer and is considered by many to be the best pure point guard in his class. While his frame’s a little thin at the moment, he’s an excellent finisher in traffic. He takes a lot of pride in his defensive abilities, and oh yeah, he’s also lightning quick. See for yourself.


Back in April, Fox had glowing things to say about UK. He referred to Kentucky as every kid’s “dream school” and is familiar with all of the guards that have played for Calipari – his favorite being Brandon Knight. He also isn’t scared of the limited minutes that could come with UK’s highly-talented rosters:

“Guys like that, averaging like 8 points, and still going to be an NBA Draft pick — that’s how you want it,” Fox said. “You don’t want to have to go into college trying to score 30 points to try to win a game.

While other schools have been considered his leader thus far, De’Aaron picked up an offer from UK last weekend and looks to be seriously considering the Cats.

All in all, he would be a GREAT get.

Come on down?

Rawle Alkins cuts list to 10

Associated Press

Associated Press

5-star shooting guard Rawle Alkins listed his top 10 schools yesterday on Twitter, and Kentucky was among them. The Class of 2016 recruit also named North Carolina, Texas, Kansas, St. Johns, Louisville, NC State, UNLV, Maryland, and Indiana as potential destinations.

Yeah. That’s a lot of options. But Kentucky looks to be the frontrunners in this crowded field; 247Sports currently has Alkins as a 67% percent UK lean.  Rawle is scheduled to attend Big Blue Madness on October 16th.

I hope he likes Drake.

Bud Dupree impressing at training camp


Bud Dupree left Kentucky this year as the most exciting NFL prospect since Randall Cobb. Judging by the reports coming in from the Steeler’s training camp, he has a good chance to make a similar impact as a pro.

Here’s what a writer in Pittsburgh had to say about Bud’s performance thus far:

A note that didn’t make it in the Day 5 report but should have is the impact rookie Bud Dupree is making. His play on the field is one thing, but he’s adding well to the volume of practices each time he lowers his shoulder.

There’s a distinct sound when Dupree smashes into one of the tight ends he’s constantly covering so far. He’s not looking to take their heads off, but he is letting them know he’s there.

The Steelers drafted Dupree with the 22nd overall pick this summer. While he didn’t experience a lot of wins at UK, it’s great to see a guy who contributed so much to the program do well at the next level.

Go get em, Bud.

Sunday Morning Links



Good morning friends. As some of us continue to shake off the cobwebs from last night (and the rest carry on like responsible human beings) let’s kick this Sunday morning off with some links.

– Kentucky has some stiff competition for 2016 guard Malik Monk. The Arkansas native, who’s called a young Vince Carter by some, is also being wooed heavily by the Razorbacks. Personally, I would advise Malik to watch the last few NBA Drafts before making a decision.

– Former Cat Karl Anthony Towns played pick up with this year’s team this weekend, and he liked what he saw. The #1 overall pick had nice things to say about next year’s potential #1 pick, Skal – but threw in some barbs for good measure. Is it really too late for Karl to come back?

– The folks at the Shreveport Times ranked SEC coaches by job security. Stoops comes in at #10, ahead of the heavyweights Mark Richt, Steve Spurrier, and Les Miles. Does Stoops need to make a bowl game this year? Probably not, but it would certainly help his prospects.

– Need some more coverage from Fancy Farm? Here’s a recap of the event with a nod to emcee Matt Jones. It’s never too early for campaign season, right?

Stay tuned throughout the day for a little news and a lot of fun.

Rowdy Sunday Morning Wakeup

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

It was a good night for Ronda Rousey last night when she knocked out her Brazilian opponent Bethe Correia in only 34 seconds.

That’s right, it takes longer to microwave my morning Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich than it did for Rousey to win her sixth UFC title.

The women’s bantamweight title bout was the main attraction during Saturday’s event in Rio de Janeiro and was Rousey’s first fight outside of the United States. No one should be surprised by the quick win though, according to Sports Center, Rousey’s last three fights have lasted only 64 seconds.

After she handed Correia her first loss, Rousey dedicated the win to the late Hall of Fame wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper- the man who gave Rousey her nickname.

The lesson here: Don’t pick a fight with Ronda Rousey, you won’t have time to run.


Here’s some stuff you may have missed this weekend:

Coach Cal throws out first pitch



Jamal Murray on campus 

Jamal Murray is on campus this weekend and it looks like he making some friends with the other Wildcats.  Good choice for Ulis on the USA shirt. Murray has a chance to play for Canada in the FIBA Americas Championship later this month. Coach Cal said earlier he isn’t opposed to Murray for FIBA and hopes the five-star guard can play for his home country without interfering with his eligibility at UK.

Check back with KSR for more updates on Murray and his chances of playing with FIBA.

(Mally Mal  #BBN #BeSpecial)

(Mally Mal #BBN #BeSpecial)

Will Issac Humphries make it official?

We told you yesterday the Australian native is expected to enroll at Kentucky in time to play for Coach Cal and his Cats this season. Humphries is currently on campus for a visit but still no official word yet if the 7-foot forward will don a blue and white jersey this year. Stay tuned to KSR for more info regarding Humphries’ official announcement.


Don’t miss American Pharoah’s return to racing

(Photo via Rob Carr/Getty Images)

(Photo via Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The recent Triple Crown winner is set to race today at the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park. It’s the first time American Pharoah has competed since winning horse racing’s most elusive prize. Hundreds have gathered at Monmouth Park each morning to watch Pharoah workout for Haskell this past week, and over 60,000 people are expected to attend the race just to get a glimpse of the horse with the misspelled name and short tail. The Triple Crown is a 1-5 favorite in today’s race.

NBC will begin coverage of the Haskell at 5 p.m. ET or you watch a live stream at or the through the NBC Sports Live Extra app.

August 1st, 2015

Jermaine Eskridge is Coming to the Florida Game



Jermaine Eskridge, the No. 2 receiver in the Class of 2018 will be attending the game against Florida, something he announced on his Twitter account. 

Eskridge, a five-star receiver from Florida committed to the Wildcats just two days ago and getting him on campus for a game is another step in the right direction. Obviously, there’s a long way to go until he’s officially a Wildcat, but the more visits like this the better.

No pressure now, but ending the losing streak to Florida this year would be very beneficial.

Ulis and Murray already bonding


One thing people point to when referencing the success of last year’s team is how they bonded in the Cats’ Summer trip. This year the entire team wasn’t even together until last night when Jamal Murray made his first appearance at Kentucky as a Wildcat.

No worries, though. It seems like Murray is fitting in just fine if you look at Tyler Ulis’ instagram account.

(Mally Mal  #BBN #BeSpecial)

Mally Mal #BBN #BeSpecial

Looks like Ulis is letting him know where he stands on his favorite country.  Go Cats!


Nazr Mohammed Plays in NBA Africa Game


Kentucky’s own Nazr Mohammed played alongside some of the biggest names, both past and present from the NBA in the inaugural NBA Africa Game. Playing on the Team Africa Team, Mohammed played 16 minutes going 1-for-8 from the field scoring two points and two rebounds.

Joining him on the Team Africa team were legends Dikembe Mutombo and Hakeem Olajuwon along with current NBA stars Serge Ibaka, Boris Diaw, Bismack Biyombo, Al-Farouq Aminu, Nicolas Batum, Luol Deng, Festus Ezeli, Gorgui Dieng and Luc Mbah a Moute.

Team World won 101-97 behind 19 points from Jeff Green.