With four days left until the season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette, it’s not an exaggeration to →
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 02nd, 2015 @ 10:15am
How big is SEC football? ESPN has five writers who cover the league, and this morning, they each picked one team they thought could shock some people. Edward Aschoff picked Kentucky, therefore he is our favorite. Here’s what he had to say:
Edward Aschoff: Kentucky
I like this Kentucky team. I don’t love it; it’s not a team that’s going to compete for the SEC East title, but the Wildcats will make a bowl game and pull and upset or two. Mark Stoops thinks his offense will be better with receiver Ryan Timmons heading a group of talented, yet unheralded, receivers. The secondary is getting more length from the freshmen, and the interior of the defensive line could be nasty with Melvin Lewis and Matt Elam. Watch out for Cory Johnson and Jason Hatcher on the outside. Kentucky will win seven games.
I’m not sure if Timmons is the first player that comes to mind in UK’s receiving corps, but I like Aschoff’s enthusiasm. The rest of the staff’s picks? Missouri, Texas A&M, and LSU. Check out their reasoning at the Worldwide Leader.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 02nd, 2015 @ 9:45am
Good morning, friends, and welcome to the Wednesday edition of Kentucky Sports Radio. We’re only THREE DAYS away from the season opener against Louisiana Lafayette, which means it’s time to talk some football. Tune in to hear Matt and Ryan talk about the progress on Commonwealth Stadium, the opener, and a little bit of basketball recruiting for good measure.
Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080.
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By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 02nd, 2015 @ 9:00am
Yesterday, I interviewed Janee Thompson for my article about UK Hoops volunteering at Commonwealth Stadium, my first time talking to the senior point guard. Janee suffered a horrendous ankle injury in January at South Carolina, dislocating her left ankle and breaking her fibula. The good news is she’s on track to make a full recovery in time for the season.
“It’s going really well,” she said. “I’m on track and I’ve been playing a little bit, which is great news for me.”
In July, a video of Janee
deadlifting power cleaning made it on to Twitter:
— UK Shively Strength (@ShivelyStrength) July 23, 2015
The video is pretty awesome, so I asked her about it.
“Everybody’s been really supportive. That was just a really cool moment for me, personally, because I didn’t know what to expect, actually. I did a lot better than I thought I would and it was cool having them all behind me and knowing they were there to support me.”
Let that inspire you to get off the couch today. No excuses. But first, read the agenda for today.
Mark Stoops will be on the SEC Coaches Teleconference at 12:40 p.m.
Today is the first SEC Coaches Teleconference, and even though Stoops isn’t up until 12:40 ET, I’ll be tuning in at 11 a.m. to hear from Les Miles, who was taken to the hospital on Monday after he had too much coffee. Seriously. At practice later that day, he quipped “Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated,” making me love him even more.
We’ll find out if Ryan Flannigan will play on Saturday
Stoops did not talk to the media last night after practice, sending DJ Eliot out instead. The one important news bit: Ryan Flannigan is still questionable for Saturday. He was active at practice yesterday, but was held out of contact. Earlier in the week, Stoops said Flannigan would only play if he was able to play with full contact in practice as late as Wednesday. That’s today, so hopefully we’ll hear one way or the other soon.
There’s a “Game Day news conference” at 1:30 p.m.
This afternoon, UK EVP for Finance and Administration Eric Monday, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart, UK Police Chief Joe Monroe and others will hold a press conference in the Wildcat Den to outline “updates on safety, security, construction, parking and other matters related to large crowds coming to The New Commonwealth Stadium.” Okay. Does this mean they’re preparing us for the stadium not being 100% complete? Probably. But it’s probably more about all the traffic changes.
I’ll post any breaking news, but here’s my advice for Saturday: Get there early, don’t worry about the stadium not being 100%, and enjoy yourself. Traffic will suck on the way out too, but you’ll have the KSR Postgame Show to keep you company.
Marques Bolden starts his visit
The second best center in the 2016 class arrives on campus today for his official visit, the first of three he’s taking to UK, Duke, and Kansas. Bolden is down to eight: Duke, Kentucky, Baylor, Oklahoma, TCU, Alabama, Wake Forest and Kansas. Last weekend, he visited Alabama, and apparently, enjoyed himself quite a bit. Look at you, Avery Johnson. In the mix for a top recruit! Unfortunately, Duke’s still trending.
Add Malik Monk to the Big Blue Madness guest list
If you missed it last night, the Arkansas combo guard announced he’ll visit Kentucky for Big Blue Madness on October 16, joining a VIP guest list that also includes Harry Giles, commit Sacha Killeya-Jones, Miles Bridges, and Rawle Alkins. Monk will also visit Oregon on September 18, Kansas on October 9, and Arkansas on October 24. He might add trips to UNC and Florida State. The Cats and the home state Razorbacks are still considered the favorites.
Randall Cobb is in “Sports Illustrated Kids”
SI Kids has a feature this month about NFL players who have swapped positions since turning pro, and our own Goldeneyes was included:
Shoutout to my sister for sending me a picture of it. She knows me well.
The Sporting News will release parts two and three of their John Calipari series
Yesterday, we were treated to part one of Mike DeCourcy’s five-part series on Cal, which featured on Cal’s firing from the Nets, his rebirth at Memphis, and his coronation at Kentucky. Today, parts two and three, entitled “Salesman” and “Target” respectively, will be released, so stay tuned on this here site for a link.
KSR starts in an hour
Odds are someone will call in to ask Matt if he’s running for Congress or complain about people asking him if he’s running for Congress. Either way, it’ll be a fun two hours.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 01st, 2015 @ 11:00pm
With four days left until the season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette, it’s not an exaggeration to say work is happening around the clock at Commonwealth Stadium. Construction crews are putting the finishing touches on the $120 million renovation to the stadium, a project two years in the making; however, there’s another crew working after hours this week, not for a paycheck, but for pride.
Last night, 75 volunteers from the athletic department, the women’s basketball team, and the softball team took time out of their day to help out, cleaning the new suites, the press box, the stairwells, and the new seats all around the stadium to make sure it’s ready by Saturday. After seeing pictures of the women’s basketball team cleaning the stadium on social media, I spoke to Guy Ramsey, Director of Strategic Communication for UK, to get the scoop. He said that last night’s cleaning session, the first of many scheduled for this week, was the brainchild of Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart, who sent an email out to the entire department last week.
“Early last week, Mitch sent an email out to all staff saying basically, ‘If you can help, we’d love you to. We know everyone is busy right now, but if you’re available, please do it,'” Ramsey said, noting that the athletics department put out a similar call to arms to finish John Cropp Stadium, the softball complex, back in 2013. The response then was so impressive that Ramsey wasn’t surprised to see 75 people show up at 6 p.m. last night ready to clean.
After eating some pizza, the volunteers split into different teams for different tasks, ranging from wiping down new seats in the premium areas to cleaning counters and cabinets in the suites and press box to vacuuming stairwells. Essentially, if there’s an area in which the major construction work is finished, volunteers can now move in to start cleaning.
UK Hoops senior point guard Janee Thompson was up in the suites with some of her teammates and told me she was blown away by how nice everything looked.
“We were up in the suites cleaning the cabinets and refrigerators, and it looks so nice in there. I kind of wish I could get my own suite, but I know that’s way out of my price range,” she laughed. “It looks really nice and I can’t wait for the first football game.”
When she walks into the stadium on Saturday, Thompson said she’ll definitely have a sense of pride knowing she played a small part in getting the stadium ready.
“When I go out to the games, I’ll definitely think about that and I’ll think about how my teammates were playing in the bleachers down below where our fans will be sitting. It’s something that will cross my mind as I’m sitting and watching the first game.”
A collective effort
Both Ramsey and Thompson said putting in the extra elbow grease to get Commonwealth Stadium ready was a rewarding reminder that even though they’re all on different teams, ultimately, they’re working towards the same goal. After all, football is the primary money maker for the department.
“It’s all for one,” Ramsey said. “We’re all working on different things. We have our common purposes in mind, but sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees, so when you’re doing something like this, you realize it’s a collective effort. We’re all working towards the same thing, all trying to put a good product out on the field for our fans to enjoy and give our student-athletes and coaches the opportunity to exceed at the highest level. It’s a pretty cool thing to be on the same page with that.”
“It’s always nice to be able to help out another program because at the end of the day, we’re all on the same team. We’re all Wildcats,” Thompson said, noting that she had some girls from the softball team in her group. “It was nice to spend time with them and talk to them while cleaning and being able to help out the football team at the same time.”
When I mentioned that the football team should repay the favor in November by cleaning Memorial Coliseum, she laughed.
“That would be funny. I don’t think we need as much cleaning though.”
Over the weekend, the baseball team came out to lend a hand, scraping off old seat numbers so new ones could be put down. As part of the renovation, the entire stadium was re-numbered, meaning 61,000 stickers had to be scraped off with razors and replaced with new labels. It’s been a long and exhausting process headed primarily by the UK Ticket office and K-Fund staff, who are in the stands three nights a week to get it done.
Overseeing a legacy
No one is more involved than Barnhart. Ramsey said he’s a constant presence at the stadium, spending over fifteen hours there yesterday. Thirteen years into his tenure at UK, the Commonwealth Stadium renovation is Barnhart’s legacy, a fact that’s become especially clear in recent months.
“He was over here the entire day, walking around talking to construction workers, doing work himself,” Ramsey said. “His wife, Connie, was out here last night, cleaning off seats. As I was leaving last night around 11 p.m., I saw him walking out. He’s pretty much here all day. He’s leading the effort.”
In fact, Ramsey said that while the volunteers were getting their cleaning assignments last night, Barnhart kept chiming in with suggestions and prioritizing areas that needed to be worked on first.
“Mitch could not be more all over it. This is the thing on his mind right now,” Ramsey said. “He’s been wanting to get this done for a really long time and he wants to get it done the right way because it’s been a lot of work for a lot of people to get to this point. Everyone had a role in getting it done and he wants to make sure it’s a special day and a special season and we can enjoy this stadium for a really long time to come.”
How much work is left to do?
That’s the $120 million dollar question, and although Ramsey said the stadium won’t be 100% by Saturday, it will be close.
“We’re going to be ready to play a game in there. There’s no doubt about that,” Ramsey said, admitting that the two-year timeline for the renovation was a bit ambitious. “Bottom line, this is a project that’s for generations, it’s not for one game. There are things we’re going to be putting finishing touches on probably for a while and we’ve always known that. It’s just a matter of figuring out what those are going to be.”
Ramsey said the parking lots are almost done, with asphalt going down yesterday; the sidewalks are good to go; and the asphalt in the concourses went down today. Although it may seem in pictures like there’s a lot of work to do in the concourses, Ramsey insisted it’s not as bad as it looks. “The big obstacle is stuff that’s in there, but that’s just the concessionaire using it as a staging area. It looks just the same as it does before any game. Really, it’s just a matter of cleaning stuff out.”
Ramsey said that the department had originally asked volunteers to come out from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week, but the response has been so good they’ll probably work Thursday and Friday nights as well. The tasks may seem menial, but they’re finding ways to have fun. The UK student-athlete orientation took place on the field at Commonwealth last night, so volunteers were able to enjoy the music from the loudspeakers while they cleaned.
A photo posted by Tamika Williams Jeter (@twms34) on
There’s also the added bonus of seeing your coworkers in a new environment. Ramsey said the group got a kick out of watching Matthew Mitchell and Rachel Lawson clean, especially since Lawson was operating one of the high-powered vacuums that straps to your back, making the softball coach look like a Ghostbuster. “We’re hoping to get more music tonight, but that was entertainment enough,” Ramsey laughed.
“It was fun enough just to be around each other,” Thompson said. “We were talking about a million different things and it almost didn’t seem like work. We were having fun with each other and before we knew it, our time was up.”
Last night, the volunteers were able to wrap up three hours of work in just over two hours, meaning everyone got to go home early. Except for one group who refused to stop.
“There was a group of eight people that included some people from the business office, media relations and Coach Lawson that were carrying around vacuums,” Ramsey said. “They saw a stairwell and wanted to start cleaning it. We saw them getting ready to do it and told them to save it for tomorrow. They said, ‘No, we’re already here, we’re going to do it,’ so they went ahead and cleaned it out on their own even though they had been dismissed.”
All in, indeed.
By Courtney Hessler on ©September 01st, 2015 @ 10:30pm
You know you’re thinking of a Wendy’s ® Spicy Chicken Sandwich. The spicy goodness of the all white meat chicken lightly breaded with a unique blend of eight peppers and spices, topped with crisp lettuce, delicious fresh tomato and creamy mayonnaise, all on a soft toasted bun. The only way to get it out of your head is to get it in your hands.
You can be a part of Wendy’s KSR Top 10 Tweets by using hashtags like #KSR #BBN or #KSRtop10. You can also nominate tweets by mentioning them with the hashtag. If we like what we see, it could be posted the next day. Now. On to the tweets:
#10 Maxwell Smith
Thanks for the love #BBN and best of luck to my UK brothers and Coach Stoops this weekend!
— Maxwell Smith (@Maxwe11uk) September 1, 2015
#9 Chad Elder
— Chad Elder (@healthlawatty) September 1, 2015
I thought Kentucky Joe sounded familiar.
#8 Wildcat Johnny
— Wildcat Johnny (@JohnnyVicroy) September 1, 2015
Drinking with Drew is not a game, Johnny.
#7 Bweet Da Dee™
— Bweet Da Dee™ (@TDigital) September 1, 2015
I THINK I GOT MY SWAGGER BACK!!!!
— °ΔDRIΔΠ★MIDDLΣTΩΠ° (@99OnMyChest) September 1, 2015
Just in time for the season to start.
#5 Mychal Mulder and Skal Lab
— Mychal Mulder (@MychalMulder) September 1, 2015
— Skal Lab (@OneBigHaitian) September 1, 2015
@MychalMulder I knew you were not of this world😂😂
— Skal Lab (@OneBigHaitian) September 1, 2015
Looks like this year is going well.
#4 Manitoba RockN Rolla
— Manitoba RockN Rolla (@Manitobarolla) September 1, 2015
Man. It must be limited release. Can’t find it over here.
#3 James Parker
— James Parker (@Liljimmy86) September 1, 2015
That guy deserves a raise.
#2 KY Music Preview
— KY Music Preview (@DustyKYMP) September 1, 2015
Wait. Is this serious?
#1 Jason Burnett
— Jason Burnett (@UK__JB) September 1, 2015
Listen. If Matt doesn’t fund this I am starting a crowd fund.
By Andrew Cassady on ©September 01st, 2015 @ 10:00pm
This Thursday night, college football will make its triumphant return to the airwaves and the long drought between the Final Four and football will finally be over. With the pigskin back in our lives the folks over at Bleacher Report have gone through all 128 FBS teams and ranked them. Where did the Cats land? Probably a little lower than you’d hope. Here’s where UK ranked amongst their opponents:
26. Mississippi State
37. South Carolina
77. Louisiana- Lafayette
[Bleacher Report: College Football Power Rankings for Week 1]
To recap, Syracuse.com had the Cats placed 66th, USA Today disrespected the team with a ranking of 77, and SB Nation had them placed highest at 50. All of these rankings outside of the elite teams are subject to the author’s opinion and preconceptions which results in wide variations from site-to-site. I think the Cats are going to surprise a lot of people on the national scene and low expectations are something they can take advantage of early in the year. The time for talk is coming to an end, the time for action and bowl eligibility is now.
What do you think of Bleacher Report’s rankings of UK and their opponents?
By Trey Huntsman on ©September 01st, 2015 @ 9:30pm
We are two weeks in for KHSAA Football, but many states across the nation just got rolling this past Friday. There are several recruits that have yet to play, and we will have updates on them when their seasons begin. But for the time being, here are updates on ten of Kentucky’s top commits.
Zy’aire Hughes, RB/WR, McCracken County- Following his rough opener against Paducah Tilghman, Hughes found his groove against Warren Central in a 56-35 win. The senior athlete ran for 204 yards and a touchdown. Hughes has totaled 242 rushing yards and 85 receiving yards in his first two games.
Landon Young, OL, Lafayette- After being named to the Rivals Top 100 Players for 2016, Young has helped Lafayette to a 2-0 start. The senior o-lineman protected for quarterback Walker Wood last week when Wood threw for 293 yards and the team rushed for 275. Young and Lafayette go to Trinity this Friday.
Kash Daniel, QB/LB, Paintsville- He is mentioned in every article I write, and for good reason. Daniel has totaled 22 tackles in his first two games, including 16 last week. On the offensive side of the ball, Daniel has run for 192 yards and five touchdowns on only 18 carries. Daniel will be matched up with Pikeville’s Daric Pugh this Friday night.
Drake Jackson, OL, Woodford County- With Woodford County at 1-1 to begin the season, all the attention has been on Drake Jackson. With speculation he could win the Mr. Football Award, Jackson is worth the short drive from Lexington to see him play this season.
Davonte Robinson, CB/RB, Henry Clay- Robinson was on the field Friday for our game of the week against St. Xavier. On defense, Robinson showed his hard-hitting style of play and desire to win games (The dude is intense). Robinson struggled on offense, fumbling twice. His offensive struggles were overshadowed by his tremendous blocked punt to set up Henry Clay’s second half touchdown. Robinson announced he will make an official visit to Notre Dame when the Irish take on USC.
Out of State Commits
Gunnar Hoak, QB, Coffman High School (Ohio)- Hoak had his season debut as captain for Coffman last Friday. The class of 2016 commit threw for 201 yards and three touchdowns in a win over fellow UK-commit Kordell Looney and Springfield. Hoak will be enrolled at UK next semester once he wraps up his high school career.
Dakota Holtzclaw, TE, Worthington Kilbourne (Ohio)- Also in his season opener, Holtzclaw reeled in three passes in 27-24 win. You can see them here (and pretty much any highlight you want to see).
Jordan Griffin, DB/WR, Jonesboro High School (Georgia)- Signed on as a defensive back with UK, Griffin garnered attention with a big performance as a wide receiver last week. Griffin caught nine passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner with under a minute to play.
Benny Snell, RB, Westerville Central (Ohio)- Snell was an absolute beast in his season opening victory, running for 194 yards on 17 carries for a pair of big touchdowns. Let his highlights WOW you.
Mac Jones, QB, The Bolles School (Florida)- The pro-style quarterback opened the season with 185 yards passing on 10/15 passing. Jones threw touchdowns of 49, 38, and 35 and ran for one touchdown in a blowout win for traditional-powerhouse Bolles.
Russ Yeast, Athlete, Fremont Ross (Ohio)- Yeast played the game under center, throwing 10/20 for 153 yards. He also ran for 127 yards in an opening night loss.
Also worth a note, Jermaine Eskridge (2018 commit) will be in attendance for Kentucky’s game against Florida.
By Drew Franklin on ©September 01st, 2015 @ 9:12pm
By Drew Franklin on ©September 01st, 2015 @ 8:51pm
Malik Monk is down to six schools: Arkansas, Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and Oregon. Four of those schools will get official visits; the other two are TBD at the moment. Word leaked online Tuesday night before Monk could make the announcement on his brother’s radio show as he had originally planned.
Here are Monk’s four confirmed scheduled visits:
Oregon, September 18
Kansas, October 9 (Late Night In The Phog)
Kentucky, October 16 (Big Blue Madness)
Arkansas October 24,
Visits to North Carolina and Florida State are still in the works.
That Madness visit is HUGE.
By Nick Roush on ©September 01st, 2015 @ 7:17pm
A few quick things from DJ Eliot before we begin our second podcast:
– No Ryan Flannigan. He was once again in a red no contact jersey. If he doesn’t practice with full contact tomorrow, you can count him out for Saturday.
– The defense is preparing for a spread running attack. Louisiana likes to get players in open spaces for one-on-one situations, putting pressure on the tackler to make a play. Eliot said it could be tough to execute in an intense and emotional first game, but if they remained disciplined, he’s confident in his defense.
– Three guys make or break the run defense. The veteran leadership from Josh Forrest and Melvin Lewis is expected from the BBN. With a year of significant playing time under their belts, they’ve gotten all of their bad habits out of the way. Marcus McWilson has done the same, transforming into a forceful run supporting strong safety that Eliot has a lot of confidence in.
– C.J. Walker has been the scout team scat back that is simulating Elijah McGuire. Normally a receiver, Walker’s speed has put on an excellent performance, keeping the defense on their toes in open space.
– If you want to know another name to look out for on Louisiana’s offense, wide receiver Jamal Robinson will be their biggest target. He missed a lot of games last year due to injury, but will be the go-to guy when the quarterback is pressured.
By Jonathan Miller on ©September 01st, 2015 @ 7:00pm
Sometime around 8 PM last Sunday, my iPhone began to blow up with similar, seemingly out-of-the-blue texts from several of the state’s leading Democrats (and a few Republicans, too):
Is Matt Jones really running for Congress?
Turns out this was no coincidence. The Herald-Leader’s Sam Youngman had just posted an exclusive report that the national party’s Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was furiously recruiting the Kentucky Sports Radio chieftain to challenge two-term GOP Representative Andy Barr for Kentucky’s sixth district congressional seat in 2016. And the Big Blue Nation’s master communicator/promoter had done such a good job of keeping this a secret, that even his own recovering politician Sunday night columnist was caught completely by surprise.
After listening to his brief explanation on his radio show, reading incisive interviews by Youngman and Insider Louisville‘s Joe Sonka, and having a couple of private conversations with the King of All Kentucky Media himself, I’ve come to understand that Jones’ interest is real. Perhaps more significantly, the dozens of political insiders who’ve continued to burn up my phone — c’mon guys, I’ve got a day job — pretty much all agree: If the state’s biggest radio personality chooses to run, he has a very legitimate chance of winning. Indeed, unless Governor Steve Beshear un-retires (will never happen) or UK Coach John Calipari jumps into the arena (yeah, right), Jones is by far the strongest — and perhaps the only — Democrat who could unseat the respected, well-funded and scandal-free incumbent Barr.
Elections 101: While my mom, a former UK political science professor, has written a few of the definitive books on Kentucky politics; for the short attention span KSR set, I will boil down the patented recipe for a successful modern political campaign into a simple math equation:
Name Recognition + Campaign Funding = #winning
OK, I exaggerate. A little. Candidate quality, as well as voter partisanship, ideology and mood matter. But the era in which an unknown, idealistic candidate can win major office based on shoe leather, rhetorical precision and the power of her platform expired sometime around the invention of the television. Despite the rising influence of social media, the critical campaign battleground continues to be the 30-second TV commercials that we all profess to hate, but which are proven time and again to determine elections. And it’s extraordinarily helpful for a new candidate to be able to build on a foundation of familiarity to help prevent his opponent from defining him in a series of attack ads.
Political watchers understand that Matt Jones is that rare first-timer who is both well-known and shares a deep personal connection with target voters. As I’ve discussed often in this column, the Bluegrass State’s devotion to its Cats borders on religious fervor; and while Matt Jones may not be our High Priest, he’s certainly one of the most esteemed and influential evangelists.
It’s clear from my phone conversations this week that local and national Democrats are anxious to rain down donations on Jones should he decide to throw his ball cap into the ring. Plus, with an enormous Web-based following, Matt would be one of the very few Congressional candidates who could raise buckets of cash online. By all traditional standards, Matt instantly would be positioned as a credible, legitimate challenger.
The Trump Card: Of course, each day as we mire through the Summer of Trump, we understand that our country’s political standards are anything but traditional. Indeed, The Donald’s yoooooge lead in the national polls is a clear indication that the public is so sick to death of politicians-as-usual that they’re willing to put up with the billionaire’s bombastic bigotry and cynical faux-populism.
To be clear, if he decides to run, Matt Jones would surely run a much more substantive campaign and express a much more thoughtful and compassionate worldview. But what Jones and Trump share is a politically-incorrect, tell-it-like-it-is sense of authenticity — an über-refreshing contrast with the typical bet-hedging, over-managed, sound-bite-scripted pols — that would attract voters who might disagree with them on any number of policy positions.
Jones’ potential opponent would be the perfect foil. Andy Barr is an attractive, intelligent, well-spoken gentleman whose smarts, collegial style and party loyalty have propelled him to be a rising conservative star in DC. He looks, acts and talks like a Congressman. Accordingly, with Congressional approval hovering somewhere between cockroaches and the Kardashians in national polls, Jones’ everyman, non-political persona could attract the legion of Central Kentuckians who despise Washington and aspire to turn our paralyzed and polarized system upside down.
For reference, recall the 2010 GOP Senate primary between Rand Paul and former Secretary of State Trey Grayson. Grayson (full disclosure: a good friend) represented everything we good-government types desire in our elected officials: integrity, bi-partisanship, a commitment to public service. That’s why the Republican Establishment, led by Sen. Mitch McConnell, openly embraced him. But it was that very embrace that helped cause Grayson to be routed by a little-known ophthalmologist, and helped launch the anti-government Tea Party movement nationwide.
If there is any quality that unites Kentuckians of all political flavors, it’s a resentment toward elites. Heck, that’s why we joined the Confederacy after the Civil War. And that’s a forceful wave that anti-politician Matt Jones could ride into Congress.
Demographics and Timing: In one of the great ironies of modern politics, if we went back to the bad old days when only white men could vote, the Grand Old Party that freed the slaves and helped secure women the franchise would win nearly every election today by a landslide. Matt could turn those numbers on their head. I’m not privy to the cross tabs of his radio show’s ratings, but I’m quite confident that his listenership skews heavily into traditional Republican demographics. While Matt certainly won’t win over all of his listeners who don’t share his left-of-center political leanings, the profound, emotional shared bond over Kentucky sports — and the deep respect listeners have developed for Jones’ intellect, integrity and blunt candor — might provide Teflon cover from the inevitable anti-liberal, anti-Obama attack ads, and sway enough conservative fans who would never otherwise vote Democratic.
Consider as well another core KSR audience that traditionally does not vote in large numbers: the college-age and young adult set. While a Jones candidacy isn’t likely to fundamentally change Millennial voting patterns, a small percentage increase could make the difference in a tight election. And with the presidency on the ballot in 2016, a disproportionate number of young people will be at the polls already.
Speaking of presidential politics, since 2000 at least, association with the national ticket has tended to crush Democratic hopes in the Bluegrass State. But at least at this moment, the GOP nationally is in far greater disunity and disarray; and the Clintons, despite constant accusations of ethical impropriety (such as with this season’s email scandal), have always performed well in Kentucky. Further, with Rand Paul’s fortunes sinking precipitously, and potential challenger State Auditor Adam Edelen garnering national attention for his electoral viability and charismatic oratory, the U.S. Senate race likely won’t provide the same drag for down ticket Democrats as it has in recent elections. This may be the right year for a Democrat like Jones to seize back the congressional seat that has switched parties regularly over the past several decades.
He Gets It: In the end, no matter how good a candidate looks on paper or on the stump, if she’s unwilling to take the steps necessary to wage a successful campaign, she ain’t gonna win. Matt understands the discipline required and the personal sacrifices necessary to succeed and proceed in elective politics. He knows that most of his campaign life will find him stuck in a windowless room dialing for dollars and groveling for grassroots support. And most importantly, he recognizes that if he wins, serving as a freshman in the House minority is no glamorous life, and that an equally brutal reelection campaign will commence within weeks of his being sworn in.
For all of those reasons (as well as the fact that he already has plenty of fame and an established public platform), Matt Jones might decide not to run for Congress. But if he does take the plunge, it will be for all the right reasons: That the small town boy from the mountains adores his home state and wants to play a meaningful role in its revival. That the son of a longtime Bell County prosecutor understands the sanctity and significance of public service. That the voracious student of public policy realizes that fixing a desperately broken political system takes personal and professional risk, as well as a giant leap of faith away from the comforts of a satisfying and enjoyable lifestyle.
And that’s why if Matt Jones does decide to run for Congress, there will be plenty of Central Kentuckians like me who will be proud to support him.
By Drew Franklin on ©September 01st, 2015 @ 6:34pm
Kentucky’s defense really needs Ryan Flannigan to get healthy. The senior linebacker has been out for a couple of weeks with a shoulder injury and Mark Stoops said yesterday he will not play Saturday if he isn’t back on the practice field by tomorrow.
Today, Flannigan was active at practice, but in a non-contact role. DJ Eliot said he isn’t sure if tomorrow will be any different as Flannigan’s status is still day-to-today.
Kentucky is already incredibly thin and inexperienced at linebacker, so Flannigan’s shoulder injury –an injury known to reoccur– is a serious concern. Sounds like UK will be without him against Louisiana-Lafayette in the opener, unless he can get back out there in practice tomorrow.
Get ready to step up, freshmen.
By Drew Franklin on ©September 01st, 2015 @ 6:06pm
Posted in Main
By Courtney Hessler on ©September 01st, 2015 @ 5:50pm
After a 3-0 opening weekend the Cats look to continue the winning streak tonight at Memorial Coliseum. ICYMI: The Cats jumped five slots, from 15 to 10, after defeating Little Rock, IUPUI and No. 19 Michigan State in its opening Bluegrass Battle tournament.
At 7 tonight the Cats look to go 4-0 for the second-consecutive season as they welcome the Ohio Bobcats to Lexington. Ohio went 2-1 in its opening weekend with back-to-back 3-0 wins over Austin Peay and VCU. Its loss came against Purdue. 0-3.
What is really important about this match is that it is “90’s Theme Night” in Memorial. The first 200 students will also receive a free BBN trucker hat. Seems like UK Volleyball is bringing out all the stops this season.
If you can’t make it, catch the Cats on WatchESPN or listen on WWTF with Dick Gabriel and Mandy Robbe.
The Cats will travel to Cedar Falls, Iowa this weekend for the Northern Iowa Tournament for three matches. They open play Friday at 7:30 against UNI, with two matches Saturday against USC and Creighton.
By Drew Franklin on ©September 01st, 2015 @ 5:00pm