A hot topic around SEC football recently is whether or not the SEC will expand to a nine-game schedule. Mitch Barnhart and Kentucky oppose the SEC schedule expanding to nine games for obvious reasons, but Nick Saban is all for it and so are all the parties that would benefit from the extra money and television spots on the new SEC network. If the SEC does expand to nine games, there’s a good chance Louisville could be dropped from Kentucky’s schedule to create some breathing room for the Cats. With an eight-game SEC schedule, Kentucky already has what some are calling the toughest schedule in the nation next season. If you add another SEC game to an already brutal schedule, it may give Kentucky no other option than to drop the annual home and away series with its in-state rival in order to be competitive and position themselves for regular appearances in bowl games. It would be unfortunate to lose the Governor’s Cup series, but it could be a harsh reality given the circumstances of a possible expanded SEC schedule.
If Kentucky does drop Louisville from the football schedule, it will be important to fans that the game is replaced with another program that will generate fan excitement. Replacing Louisville with a MAC opponent every year is not what fans want to see. The key may be to find another regional school that fans would be excited about playing, but at the same time, a program that Kentucky can defeat on a regular basis. Throughout the history of the UK-UofL series, Kentucky HAS beaten Louisville on a regular basis, but a Charlie Strong-coached, ACC-member Louisville team may be too much to handle after adding a ninth SEC opponent. If you don’t replace Louisville with another potential regional rival, than Kentucky should at least keep the schedule flexible for the chance to occasionally add a BCS-level opponent on a one or two year basis, potentially at a neutral site. The first program that comes to mind as a replacement for Louisville as an annual opponent is Indiana. The next school that comes to mind is Cincinnati.
Renewing the Indiana football series, an easier game to win against a regional BCS opponent, makes the most sense for Kentucky if Louisville would be dropped. The argument against playing Indiana would be that it’s not the most exciting choice, even if it is a game you can count on for wins on a regular basis. Cincinnati would be a much more entertaining option, but may be a tougher game to win. However, if Cincinnati’s program declines as many expect it will in the American Athletic conference, the Bearcats could be the perfect scheduling alternative for Kentucky. A major advantage of playing Cincinnati is the opportunity to show off the program to more Ohio prospects once every two years, and if the away game is moved to Paul Brown Stadium, lots and lots of blue will get in.
If Kentucky would not replace Louisville with an annual opponent, then it must strategically schedule games against other BCS programs on occasion. By “strategically”, I mean that Kentucky should schedule a “Stoops Bowl” against Oklahoma or a one-time meeting with a traditional regional power such as Ohio State or West Virginia only in years that Kentucky is expected to be good and able to handle such an opponent, while also in a season when the Cats have a softer SEC West schedule. Perhaps, you could even try to continue to play Louisville every once in a while, but not on an annual basis. These are games that could be one-time neutral site meetings in Cincinnati, Indianapolis or Nashville. On years that Kentucky is expected to struggle or face a tough SEC West slate, they could welcome MAC or FCS schools to Commonwealth in those seasons.
If you were in Mitch Barnhart’s chair and had to make such a decision, would you drop Louisville if the SEC expands to nine games?
If you do drop Louisville, how would you replace them on the schedule?
A. Renew Indiana game
B. Begin rivalry with Cincinnati
C. Keep the schedule flexible for an occasional big game
D. Schedule all non-conference cupcakes every season
E. Begin annual rivalry with (insert team name here)
Sound off in the comments section.
The above video can be tough to watch. As Archie Goodwin struggles with his jump shot, the ESPN announcers break down his game and…well it isn’t all that pretty. They give him some compliments, but there are also a lot of tough remarks. It wasn’t a pretty week for Archie in Chicago, although he is still projected in the first round. But he will have lots of work to do…
Well, it’s the off season. As if you couldn’t tell by the two posts about softball earlier (if you’re reading this, ladies, I am only kidding – congrats). Since we’ve got you here, let’s take a look at some more-or-less off topic yet interesting news stories I’ve come across today. The UK basketball and football realms have been pretty quiet, but the world goes on.
- First thing’s first: the UK softball team will play Arizona State in Tempe next week for the Super Regional. Sounds like some beautiful weather may help them in making school history.
- We’ve been following the hoops recruiting world intensely this year. Let’s start off with the obvious – Rivals ranked UK’s 2013 basketball recruiting class at No. 1. This surprised approximately zero people, despite losing Wiggins. The last remaining big name on the board makes his decision this week. Theo Pinsonn closes out the recruiting season for the 2013 class with his Wednesday decision.
- Amongst the college basketball world, there has been some hoopla over this LA Times piece. Steve Alford honeymoon at UCLA has been incredibly short-lived. As expected. He inherited a semi-torn team despite Bazz’s nice season, but the controversies from the past now have people keeping an extra close eye on Alford from the get-go. Give it a read.
- You know what’s not smart? Hating on Derrick Rose. A UF product did a very Florida-esque thing recently: Rookie Brad Beal dissed Derrick Rose, calling him “scared” and saying he’d lose respect for him if Rose were his teammate. Be thankful you aren’t his teammate, Brad. Rose is coming off a major injury and he needs to think longterm for his own sake. Poor form.
- I heard a hilariously story from a friend regarding RG3 at the Derby this year. I am not going to retell it, but I thought you should know. Anyways, Robert Griffin III has been receiving incredible amounts of wedding gifts from fans via his registery. The interesting part is that these fans are getting hand-signed (read: autographed) thank you letters. Genius and also shows the love fans have for this guy in D.C. However, do NOT do this for UK players, you guys. That’s a no-no.
UL fans are happy about their title…how do we know? Well they are flaunting their fandom like never before. Both of these pictures were sent to me this weekend by KSR readers….and both are #L1CAwesome. The tattoo is my favorite however…mainly because I am not sure which of the two she will regret more later in life:
I know we are all a bit bitter about the recent decision by the nation’s number one high school recruit to attend a different school, but this is quite the interest look at how the situation developed. Check out this piece from the Topeka Capital-Journal on the “wild chase” leading Andrew Wiggins to pick Kansas. This piece is reminiscent of what Matt said after the decision – Kansas came on strong as the non-FSU replacement of UK after spots filled up.
There are a few interesting facts and a nice timeline of events in this piece. The centerpiece of it all was the commitment of Julius Randle to Kentucky. As Matt said, once Randle came on board, KU replaces UK as the championship caliber school on Wiggins priority list. Amongst the interesting facts: (1) Wiggins barely told anyone anything (even his coach, Rob Fulford) and mostly communicated via text and (2) Kansas coaches didn’t know where Wiggins was going as of Tuesday morning. This echoes how much of the internet perceived the situation, apart from that fact that many thought it was FSU outfront until the end.
Overall, this is a solid read to see the trajectory of this mysterious recruitment of arguably the best high school player since LeBron. While it is still TBD on whether Bill Self can actually utilize one-and-done talent in a manner remotely as beneficial as Calipari, this will be as interesting and as highly scrutinized of a freshman season we’ve ever seen. Best of luck to him.
- Kelsey Nunley an Lauren Cumbess talking to the media -
After a disheartening loss this morning, the Hittin’ Kittens stepped it up and closed out the Lexington Regional with a victory. The UK softball teams advances to the Super Regional with a 1-0 Game 7 victory of Virginia Tech. The Super Regional is the precursor to the Women’s College World Series.
This marks the second time in school history that the squad has made it this far. Kelsey Nunley turned in a wonderful pitching performance, along with Second Team All-Region Lauren Cumbess. Congrats to these ladies! Follow up on the action @UKsoftball and @UKCoachLawson. It’s been a great season for this team and it gets to continue at the Super Regional. Go Cats!
If you are not currently watching the NBA playoffs, you are probably getting your Sunday Funday on, aka the Drew Franklin Special. Or maybe you were watching UK softball on ESPN. However, if you are tuned into the NBA, you are witnessing the last remaining Wildcat currently alive in the most exciting time of the year for pro hoops.
As we speak (okay…type), Tayshaun and the Memphis Grizzlies are currently facing off against the San Antonio Spurs on ABC. The Spurs started off hotter than Tony Parker’s ex-wife. In typical Grizzly fashion, they made a third quarter run. But that was quashed. Hopefully Z-Bo and company make this game really interesting in the fourth quarter.
I am personally on the Grizz band wagon – no player is more fun to watch then Z-Bo in the fourth and you have to pull for ex-Cat Prince. I’ll be torn if it comes to a Grizzlies-Heat final, but that’s what I want to see. Tune into ABC to see Prince try and bring Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.
UPDATE: The Grizz failed at making it interesting, losing 105-83. Ouch. Onto Game 2.
Last night John Calipari tweeted out this picture of him and Mark Stoops hanging out on a Saturday night at their friends’ Joey and Jennifer Palumbo’s house. As you can see, both men are just hanging as good friend would do, wearing denim and enjoying a Saturday night BBQ. But the picture is also representative of the two men’s growing relationship with each other as both have become close in the last few months. Mark Stoops has utilized John Calipari as a recruiting weapon, taking most of his top recruits to meet the coach when they are in town for visits and Calipari has been very generous with his time on those recruiting trips. But the two men have also become friends, socializing together and working on projects to help the overall UK Athletics community. As Mark Stoops recently said to me on radio, “we have one of the best to coach any sport on our campus. I would be silly not to try and work as closely as possible with him.”
In five years, if Mark Stoops does what we want him to do here and John Calipari has added a couple more banners to the walls, this picture will be one to remember.
- game photo via our fearless leader -
After a brilliant performance yesterday to beat Virginia Teach and come within one win from a Super Regional appearance, the Hittin’ Kittens (as they have apparently become known around these parts) fell short in the early game today. The UK softball team fell 2-0 to VA Tech in Game 6 of the Lexington Regional.
The ladies only grabbed three total hits in the shutout. VA Tech’s pitcher kept the game in check, while Kelsey Nunley followed up her one-hitter from yesterday with a loss. However, a much more rested UK team has another chance. The deciding Game 7 just kicked off in Lexington, with VT’s Jasmin Harrell going up against UK’s Lauren Cumbess on the mound. Winner goes to the Super Regional, the last round before the World Series level.
(Photo by Regina Lexi Rickert)
The 2013 Southeastern Conference baseball Tournament will feature 12 teams for the first time. Much to the chagrin of the Kentucky Wildcats, who wouldn’t have made the cut had it been any other year. In 2012 the SEC expanded to include 10 teams, up from eight from years past, in an effort to prepare for the conference realignments which welcomed Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC. Now with 12 of the 14 possible teams in the tournament, the bracket gets messy in a hurry.
The top four teams get first-round byes and a pass into the double-elimination format of the bracket. Vanderbilt, LSU, Arkansas, and South Carolina at the top teams in the SEC and will each await a Wednesday game.
Eleven-seed Kentucky will compete in the play-in versus 6-seed Ole Miss Tuesday morning. The Cats won two out of three during the regular season, but the Rebels have beaten plenty of teams the Wildcats couldn’t touch late in the season.
The steep fall from grace for UK has come as a shock for those around the program. After the first two months of the season Kentucky was sitting pretty with a 22-6 record and well represented in the national polls. Then they reeled on a 7-18 mark, posting an abysmal 4-16 record in conference.
The Cats enter the tournament with the No. 38 RPI and 13 wins against top-50 RPI teams. But the uphill climb may still be too much.
A chance at an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament is basically nonexistent. The Wildcats only real hope for making the post-season is winning the SEC Tourney. That is going to be quite a feat. Kentucky reached the semifinals of the SEC Tournament last year before falling to the eventual-champion Mississippi State.
You can see the Wildcats play the Rebels on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. on Fox Sports Network.
Four-star safety from Ohio, Darius West has been a near-lock for Kentucky for weeks. The 6-foot, 196 pound bruising defensive back has been high on Wildcats ever since Mark Stoops arrived in Lexington. West is ranked 13th at his position nationally, and holds offers from Penn State, Louisville, Illinois, and West Virginia, among many others.
But the race is not over yet. Saturday, Hugh Freeze and Ole Miss extended a scholarship offer to West, sending a ripple into his plan to commit on May 30. West told ESPN he could take an official visit to Ole Miss before his commitment date, at this point still set for the end of the month.
He had narrowed his list to Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State, and Wisconsin. We will have to wait and see what impact Ole Miss has on his final four. Getting into the recruiting game so late cannot be a good look.
(Photo by Regina Lexi Rickert)
Virginia Tech played 20 innings of softball Saturday. Hokies No. 1 pitcher Jasmin Harrell tossed 13 innings in the elimination-game victory over Marshall to keep the team alive in the tournament; a single game that lasted nearly four hours. Over the entire three-game weekend, Harrell has pitched 19.1 innings amassing 246 pitches. Virginia Tech has to be running on fumes. If the Hokies want to advance, they will need to win not once – but twice today – against a much more rested Kentucky team.
In their first matchup on Saturday, the Wildcats jumped on the Hokies early thanks to a Lauren Cumbess two-run homer in the top of the 1st inning. Virginia Tech answered in the 2nd, capitalizing on a pair of Kentucky errors, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch. It resulted in two runs for VT, but was not credited to Kentucky pitcher Kelsey Nunley’s earned run average.
The Wildcats picked up a run in the 3rd, and another in the 4th off the bat of Krystal Smith making it 4-2, before finally tacking on two more in the 5th thanks to a Hokies error. If it weren’t for a sloppy 2nd inning, Nunley would have been looking at a near-perfect game. Her final line against VT was 7 innings pitched, 1 hit, 0 earned runs, 2 walks, and 5 strikeouts, all while keeping her pitch count sub-100.
The Wildcats are playing in only their third ever regional final, also accomplishing the feat in 2009 and 2011. Only once has the softball program made a trip to Super Regionals; losing to California in Lexington, just one win away from a trip to the Women’s College World Series.
Starting pitching and lineups have yet to be announced, but my guess is Kentucky will send out pitcher No. 2 to start game one, Lauren Cumbess, while the Hokies will counter with whatever Harrell has left in the tank. It’s a desperation move, and the Wildcats are in the drivers seat right now. Nunley could see a relief spot if the game is close with a UK lead late. If not, save Nunley for all of game two when the Hokies really have nothing left.
The game starts at 1 p.m. and can be found on ESPN3.com. This is a seriously fun game to watch, and the Wildcats are very good at what they do. Tune in and I think you’ll enjoy.
Well twitter ill miss you for the next 2 months going to be playing in China! Won’t have access to much while there! Have a good summer
— Josh Harrellson (@BigJorts55) May 19, 2013
Former Kentucky center Josh Harrellson is leaving for greener pastures. At least that’s what we he has told us. After being released by the Miami Heat in January and playing for Brujos de Guayama in Puerto Rico, Harrellson is packing up for two months and heading to the land far far away. He was not waived by the team, but is leaving for a better opportunity.
Good luck, Jorts. We got your back.
Kentucky softball is one win away from reaching the Super Regionals for the second time in the last three years. The Wildcats have won the first two games of the Lexington Regional and now have to win one of the next two against Virginia Tech, a team the Cats beat Saturday afternoon to bump into the loser’s bracket.
The win marked the 40th of the season, tying the school record for most wins in a season from 2011.
The MVP this weekend has been freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley. She has pitched the full 15 innings for the team in this tournament and posted an extraordinary 0.47 ERA with 10 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting just .140 against her.
We’ll have more on the softball team as they gear up for Virginia Tech later this morning. But for now, here’s to you ladies!
– In the Lexington Regional, Virginia Tech fell to the loser’s bracket by way of a loss to Kentucky Saturday afternoon. They came back and played a mind-numbing 13 innings versus Marshall to stay alive. They have a tough hill to climb today.
– Marshall starting pitcher Andi Williamson threw 216 pitches in 12.2 innings versus the Hokies. And the game before that, she threw 118 versus Notre Dame. That is more than 330 pitches in one day. Hats off to you, Ms. Williamson for an outstanding effort.
– Kentucky baseball salvaged a win on the road against Missouri. But it’s too little too late for the Cats. Only hope for a bid in the NCAA Tournament is to win the SEC.
– The baseball team drew an 11-seed for the SEC Tournament and will play 6-seed Ole Miss Tuesday in a single-elimination game. The winner will face 3-seed Arkansas in the double-elimination portion of the bracket.
– Jerry Tipton (Yes, Jerry Tipton) writes a good column about social media and recruiting. If you tweet players nasty messages, you are part of the problem. You are not a keyboard warrior; you are a scourge of the Big Blue Nation.
– Everyone knows future Kentucky hoops star Marcus Lee as a tall, lanky forward on the court. But did you know he is a volleyball star too? He helped his school win its first state title Friday to cap off his senior year.
For those of you who wanted to finally witness a Triple Crown, my condolences on your loss. For those of you who are still sobering up from the Derby and have no idea that the Preakness went down today, *high five*. The Commonwealth’s very own Orb could not capitalize on step 2 of the Triple Crown path. Calumet Farm’s Oxbow crossed the finish line in first place today at the Preakness, stomping out everyone’s hope for a Triple Crown run. After studying the tape (read: I did not watch a second of the race), it was clear that Derby-winning Orb succumbed to the pressure of the racing world watching with hope. Or something like that.
Oxbow is the first Calumet Farm Preakness winner since 1968, when Forward Pass won. D. Wayne Lukas (trainer) won his 6th Preakness and his 15th Triple Crown race, the most in history. Also, the guy has a sense of humor: ‘‘I get paid to spoil dreams. Unfortunately we go over here and you can’t mail ‘em in. It’s a different surface and a different time. You gotta line ‘em up and win ‘em.” Oxbow impressively led wire-to-wire and went off at 15-1. In contract. In contract, Orb started off on the rail in the No. 1 position and could not overcome.
In other news:
- Some Wildcat ladies had a great day – the UK softball team won their 40th game of the season today against Virginia Tech. This record-tying win came thanks to freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley’s one-hitter. The UK squad now advances to the Regional final, taking place Sunday in Lexington. The No. 12 ranked Hittin’ Kittens are still kicking.
- One young future-Cat received quite an honor. Today was officially deemed Dominique Hawkins day in Richmond. Don’t believe me? Just ask the mayor! (Keep scrolling for more.)
- Photos from the set of Will Ferrel’s upcoming cult sequel have been leaking out. These pics have shown that a Wildcat/Calipari favorite will be in the film – Drake will in Anchorman 2. He was spotted on set with a huge afro as part of his get-up.
- The UK baseball team beat Missouri today 5-1, avoiding a sweep. The boys will open the SEC Tournament on Tuesday as the No. 11 seed at 10:30 a.m. ET vs. No. 6 seeded Ole Miss.
- The NBA playoffs continued tonight with the New York Knicks vs. the Indiana Pacers, including former … wait, what? There were no former Wildcats in tonight’s NBA action? That’s rare these days. Don’t get used to it.
- Speaking of the NBA, former poster-child for domestic advice (and Pacer) Lance Stephenson put a clinic on as he destroyed the Knicks down the stretch. Mind. Blown.
- I am still in disbelief about our flat top feller’s injury, but there is a night at the end of the tunnel. Nerlens Noel plans to return by Christmas. Yes, that may be after the NBA season starts. But hopefully it leads to a longer career.
- the tonight’s KSR Waddy Werewolf campout has been cancelled. No worry – Matt and the gang shall reschedule because this great state does not deserve the torture of such a beast.
Enjoy your Saturday night, folks. Stuart Hammer will be in bright and early to the office tomorrow, and I’ll return in the afternoon to give you a ride home from Sunday Funday. See you then.
The always venerable Wikipedia defines an expatriate as “a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country or culture other than that of the person’s upbringing.” In other words, they’re strangers in a strange land. University of Kentucky fans have always identified themselves as members of “Big Blue Nation,” and in many cases, the BBN really CAN be found almost anywhere your travels take you. With that in mind, the series “The Ex-Pats of Big Blue Nation” will profile those Kentucky fans who have moved away from the Bluegrass State for whatever reason, asking how they’ve managed to maintain their devotion and fanhood despite living in areas where every exhibition game isn’t televised or where no one in the neighborhood understands the significance of the date April 2, 2012. Today, say hello to Matt in San Diego, who has also spent time in Japan. Read on and enjoy hearing about life as a UK fan outside of Kentucky.
Let’s start with the basics. Please state your name, where you’re from, and current location for the official record. No need for exact addresses, I don’t want to get you in trouble on the Internet.
Matt from Georgetown, KY and currently living in San Diego, CA.
How did you get from Point A (Kentucky) to Point B (where you are now)?
I moved to San Diego after accepting a position with an e-commerce company headquartered here. Even though it meant leaving my family and home state, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I accepted this role with a new company after completing a 2 year assignment with another company in Japan.
What team’s fans dominate your area? (College or professional)
In this part of the country, I would use the term “fan” very, very loosely. However, I must give some credit where credit is due and I’d say the most passionate fans that dominate the area here are for the San Diego State Aztecs. After that, I’d have to say Chargers and honestly I won’t even include the Padres because they have zero legitimate fans and are just brutally awful to watch.
Was it a hard adjustment going from living where everyone knows every detail about UK sports, to where people may conceivably think UK and Louisville are the same team?
The adjustment was very hard and continues to be hard. The passion about sports here is not even in the same conversation as the passion that UK fans have and I miss that excitement and build up, not just for game day but hitting refresh on KSR every 10 seconds just to see where a recruit might be leaning. The sporting events here are more about being seen than seeing your team and that can really get me down. Fortunately for me, my girlfriend Molly has become a UK fan and does watch all the games with me. I would like to make sure she gets a big shout out as she is a total trooper, putting up with all my nonsense about not being able to miss a single minute of a game (no matter where we are or what we are doing we MUST get home….can’t miss the opening tip). She has even become a big fan herself and knows all the players, nothing short of a miracle for a girl from the San Francisco area. One interesting tidbit and new connection we now have: Marcus Lee, who is joining UK this coming season, went to the same high school as she did.
How many Kentucky fans would you say are in your general vicinity? Is there a local UK alumni group or bar?
I have met one, count them one, legitimate displaced UK fan out here but I haven’t really seen many more. Unfortunately there are no UK Alumni bars in San Diego (the closest one is in Los Angeles).
How do you show off your fandom while living away from Kentucky?
Aside from purchasing the most expensive satellite TV package available just to make sure I never miss a game, I have an “I Heart UK” sign above my desk at work, a UK magnet on my desk drawer at work, a UK calendar on my desk at work and during any given week I wear 2-3 UK t-shirts to work. I make sure to wear my UK gear out in public any time anything relating to Kentucky is happening.
What’s the hardest thing about being a fan outside of the geographic BBN? The best thing?
The hardest thing for me is not being able to share in the joy of other people when UK wins a game and not being able to actually attend a game or watch at a local bar anytime I want. The best thing is that I honesty feel it is my duty to make sure everyone out here knows who the best team is and show my support.
What has been your favorite memory as a UK fan?
My favorite memory as a UK fan (I’m only 31 years old so I can’t go back too far) would probably be the 1996 title run and watching Tony Delk just light everyone up they played. I clearly enjoyed the title from two seasons ago and that was a really special moment as it was the first one I’ve been able to enjoy as an adult.
What do you do for games?
For games I always wear my UK basketball shirt and I always make sure my girlfriend has hers on as well. If I’m at home, the sound must be as loud as I can possibly stand and that doesn’t solicit complaints from my neighbors. If I am at a bar, I always call ahead to make sure a) they will have the game on and b) they will have sound. I absolutely cannot watch a game without sound, hate it. Unfortunately around here, it wouldn’t be uncommon for a UK game to be on ESPN or CBS and have it nowhere to be found playing in a bar. That makes me very sad.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to follow a game live?
The craziest thing I’ve ever done to follow a game live happened while I was living in Japan. Before moving to San Diego and accepting a position with my current company, I worked for two years in Japan on assignment with another company. During that time, UK was playing Clemson in the Music City Bowl and I really, really wanted to be home to watch the game. Within a 3 day period, I had acquired my 5 days of vacation time from work, purchased a plane ticket, and flew from Japan to Lexington (then drove from Lexington to Nashville) to watch the game. I returned to Japan just a few days later. With regards to a basketball game, there were multiple occasions where I’d go out to my car in the parking garage at work to listen to games online (remember, Japan is 12ish hours ahead of US time, depending on what time of year it is). So a 7pm game on ESPN would begin at 7am for me (the next day).
How do you keep up with UK news without the local media readily accessible?
During my time in Japan, it was all about KSR and also Slingbox had just come out not too long before that. Now, it is all about satellite TV and having access to any channel at any time. If I am not around a computer or TV, I always have my phone and can generally find a way to listen or watch from there.
I don’t know what Slingbox is, but it sounds hip. If I embark on a cross-country road trip with my friends, a la Britney Spears in Crossroads, do you have a UK-themed room I can stay in?
Absolutely. I live in a one bedroom condo in downtown San Diego so it’s not very palatial but my living room does have all of the following: framed Anthony Davis poster (the one with his arms outstretched), framed Sports Illustrated cover with MKG and Davis, framed Herald-Leader celebration photo the day after the title game two seasons ago, and a UK throw blanket.
Done. See you this summer. Since becoming an ex-pat, have you returned to Kentucky to watch the team play or seen the team play live in a different area? Any stories there? You mentioned flying back from Japan simply for a UK football bowl game. That, is dedication.
I came back last year with my girlfriend just before Thanksgiving to visit family and we did manage to get tickets to the Lafayette game. We are planning to come home this year for New Year’s and if it is the last thing I do on this earth I WILL get tickets to the UK/UL game at Rupp. The absolute craziest thing, as I mentioned, was flying across the world to watch a football game. I remember it was absolutely freezing cold for that game. However, I do have some cool photos. I purchased tickets on StubHub that were around the 50 yard line and literally the first row off the field. I figured if I was going to travel that far I might as well have good seats. I also was able to heckle the Clemson punter throughout the entire game as his kicking net was just in front of us. I don’t recall the website but we were able to find on our phones a diary blog the punter kept and maintained with some great material in it. He actually seemed to enjoy it as he was laughing along with us.
How do the locals respond to your fandom?
The most confusing looks and questions I get were about the Anthony Davis poster at my desk at work (before I framed it and took it home). People also cannot believe anyone would go so far as to frame magazine and newspaper articles and display them so prominently in their home. These things I have framed at home aren’t tucked away in some bedroom but they are displayed above my couch in the living room. Being from Kentucky, the fan in all of us is not something we learned or decided to do. We were all born UK fans and grew up watching the Cats, there just wasn’t any other way around it. It just isn’t the same out here.
You have been shown on KSR atop Mount Fuji, which you climbed with a blown up picture of Billy Clyde. This is not a question, I just really need to hear the story behind this.
I came into the office when I was working in Japan one morning and read the headline about Billy Clyde’s arrest from the night before. My coworker and I had already been planning a hike up Mt. Fuji for weeks and as it turned out we were going to leave work early that day to make the drive to the mountain and hike overnight (hiking overnight or at least starting the evening/afternoon before is preferred as it is considered good luck to see the sunrise from the top). I couldn’t stop laughing all morning at the mugshot photo so I decided to print his image out on the biggest paper I could find and take it to the top with me so I could have a unique photo to send to KSR for consideration as UK fan of the day (that was really the motivating factor). I did manage to pack one beer with me to display in the photo next to Clyde’s mugshot which turned out well, along with my UK shirt and hat. One thing that happened which I totally didn’t expect were all the Japanese people at the top of the mountain asking to have their photo taken with myself and Clyde. Japanese culture is generally very standoff-ish and they wouldn’t normally approach someone like this but I did speak the language, which I think helped them feel more comfortable. There is nothing quite like a Clyde mugshot on the top of Mt. Fuji with 10 different people standing around throwing up the peace sign.
I once gave you recommendations for pizza places in Chicago. Were my suggestions satisfactory?
You recommended Orange for breakfast/brunch and Lou Malnati’s for deep dish. Due to my time constraints during my work trip, I was only able to try Lou Malnati’s. It changed my life so I am forever in your debt (and so are the 6 coworkers I dragged there with me). I had literally never tried a deep dish pizza in my life before then. Now, I only order deep dish from a place called Berkeley Pizza here in San Diego which my girlfriend introduced me to. So, she thanks you as well for turning me onto it.
You are quite welcome. What advice do you have for anyone who may be considering a move from Kentucky who is concerned about missing out on following UK?
Technology these days allows us to pretty much keep up with any game, if you choose to. I get so much satisfaction, in a weird way really, being one of the sole UK fans in my particular area. It generates conversations with strangers and I enjoy all the “shaking heads” when I cheer too loud or seem too wrapped up in a sports team where the outcome of the game can literally affect my mood the rest of the day.
Any general stories that the readers of KSR would be interested to hear about living as a BBN ex-pat?
No other particular stories but I’d like to throw some praise KSR’s way. During my time in Japan, my only really easy connections to all things UK was KSR. I would literally (zero exaggeration here) wake up each morning there, roll over to turn off the alarm, pick up my phone and pull up KSR to read on what I’d missed from the previous night. At my office, due to the amount of screens I needed to have open at any one time, I was given two monitors. One monitor was my KSR dedicated monitor which had the refresh button hit on it somewhere around 20 times per day if I had to guess. I know KSR has grown from a small idea into something much larger (radio, ridiculous tennis coverage not too far from my house, etc.) but please don’t ever forget just how many of us out there use your site to feed the typical insatiable appetite for anything, and I mean anything, UK. When you aren’t fortunate enough to live in Kentucky, there really isn’t another website out there that gives you what KSR does and I think that is a very good thing.
Are you a BBN ex-pat who likes talking about yourself? Email me at email@example.com
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Bill Keightley Report : Never to be forgotten.
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