Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.
October 22nd, 2014

Stansbury Already Making An Impact at TAMU

Like a thunder cloud looming on the distant horizon, Texas A&M is quietly building a class that could eventually challenge Kentucky’s SEC dominance. For the past four seasons Billy Kennedy has futility toiled in College Station as the Aggies haven’t earned a single NCAA or even and NIT invite. Needing to do something and fast, Kennedy hired former Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury to be his top assistant this past May. Since then the native of Battletown, KY has made an instant impact on the recruiting trail and the Aggies could be contending for SEC crowns sooner rather than later.

Stansbury has already vaulted the Aggies to the second ranked recruiting class in the nation by nabbing four 4-star recruits. Today, the Aggies received a pledge from 247’s 28th ranked player Elijah Thomas. Thomas joins the 31st, 33rd, and 88th ranked recruits to make up TAMU’s shocking class that Stansbury has assembled in just five month’s on the job. All the players in the class come from the state of Texas and look to be unifying players that have been leaving the Lonestar state for Kansas or Oklahoma State. TAMU could be sitting on a sleeping giant of a recruiting base similar to what they have been taking advantage of in football.

At Mississippi State  Rick Stansbury was able to perennially build teams that were able to give the Cats fits. Who can forget the classic SEC championship battle in 2009 which saw John Wall and the boys find a way to get the game to OT. With a lot of talk about the lack of quality teams in the SEC it is looking like two former coaches could be building decent teams for the future. Don’t be surprised if in a few years you see Texas A&M and Auburn being two of the toughest teams the Cats will face.

What do you make of Stansbury’s resurgence in College Station?

Media picks UK to win the SEC, Aaron Harrison as the SEC Player of the Year

Aaron Harrison game-winner vs. Michigan

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but the media at SEC Tipoff picked Kentucky to win the SEC this season. Here’s the complete poll:

1) Kentucky
2) Florida
3) Arkansas
4) LSU
5) Georgia
6) Ole Miss
7) Mizzouri
8) Auburn
9) Texas A&M
10) Alabama
11) Vanderbilt
12) South Carolina
13) Tennessee
14) Mississippi State

The media also chose Aaron Harrison as Preseason SEC Player of the Year. Aaron is definitely the most clutch player on the team, and without him, Kentucky wouldn’t have made the run they did without him, but I’m not sure he’d be my selection. In fact, coming up with just one Player of the Year from UK’s current roster is a struggle. Aaron? Andrew? Karl Towns?

These are really good problems to have.

Kevin Stallings calls John Calipari “St. John”

The only reporter listening to Kevin Stallings once John Calipari walked in the room (@VandyMBB)

Kevin Stallings’ got jokes! Stallings was up first at SEC Tipoff this morning, and told reporters that he better talk fast before “St. John” comes in and they all leave. That’s right, he calls John Calipari St. John. Oh, that wacky Kevin Stallings.

For comparison’s sake, here’s a picture of the crowd around Calipari’s table:


The Hard Rock Cafe jacket pretty much sums up the type of people you’d see at SEC Tipoff.

Cal and the Twins already making the rounds at SEC Tipoff

The men’s basketball teams are up today at SEC Basketball Media Days SEC Tipoff, and John Calipari and the Harrison Twins are already making the rounds at the SEC Network’s headquarters in Charlotte. @KentuckyMBB has been tweeting pictures all morning, including that one up there of Calipari getting his makeup done. Here are a few more…

Cal talking to the Sirius XM College Sports folk. According to their Twitter feed, the first thing he wanted to talk about was Mark Stoops and the UK Football team.


Is Cal rocking a new UK look?! Where’s the blue pullover??

Andrew Harrison’s not quite awake yet:

It’s gonna be a long day, Andrew. Grab some coffee.

Meanwhile, Aaron is ready for his closeup:

Yeah…this could become a meme:

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KSR is live at Mattress Warehouse in Ashland (Wednesday Show Thread)

Good morning, friends, and welcome to the Wednesday edition of Kentucky Sports Radio, which is coming to you live from the Mattress Warehouse (12540 US RT 60) in Ashland. Matt and Ryan made the trek to Boyd County to talk about UK’s upcoming game against #1 Mississippi State, the chance they can pull off the upset, and a little bit of basketball. If you’re in the area, come on out to enjoy the show and register for the chance to win some tickets.

Or, if you’re not in Ashland, join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080.

Listen to Kentucky Sports Radio

KSR Affiliate List

WBGN (1340am): Bowling Green
WAIN (93.9fm): Columbia
WHIR (1230am): Danville
WCLU (1490am): Glasgow
WGOH (1370am): Grayson
WTUK (105.1fm): Harlan
WHOP (95.3fm): Hopkinsville
WJKY (1060am): Jamestown
WLAP (630am): Lexington
WFTG (1400am): London
WKJK (1080am): Louisville
WFMW (730am): Madisonville
WWXL (1450am): Manchester
WFTM (1240am): Maysville
WKYM (101.7fm): Monticello
WMSK (1550am): Morganfield
WLME (102.7fm):Owensboro
WPAD (1560am): Paducah
WKYH (600am): Paintsville
WLSI (900am) Pikeville
WPRT (960am): Prestonsburg
WSFC (1240am): Somerset
WTCW (920am): Whitesburg
WHAY (98.3fm): Whitley City
WBTH (1400am): Williamson


WCBL (1290am): Benton, 12-2pm
WVHI (1330am): Evansville, IN, 5-7pm
WMTL (870am): Leitchfield, 11am-1pm
WLBQ (1570am): Morgantown, 3-5pm
WRIL (106.3fm): Middlesboro, Thur 8-10pm

BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: How an Unranked Team Beats #1

The last field storming by an unranked team over #1

In the last 10 college football seasons, there have only been 3 times that an unranked team beat the #1 team in the country, and it hasn’t happened since 2008.  That is 47 straight wins for the #1 team over unranked opponents.  Kentucky will try and break that streak on Saturday and will need their best performance of the season.  But do the previous 3 instances of unranked upsets show us the formula for how it’s done?  Below are the 3 key areas that I have found similarities in each win, as well as the record of each team at the time of the upset:

2007: Illinois 28, #1 Ohio State 21 (in Columbus)
Illinois 3rd down conversions: 8-17 (47%)
Illinois Turnovers: 0
Illinois Rushing Yards: 260
Illinois Record: 7-3

2007: Arkansas 50, #1 LSU 48 (3ot, in Baton Rouge)
Arkansas 3rd down conversions: 9-18 (50%)
Arkansas Turnovers: 1
Arkansas Rushing Yards: 385
Arkansas Record: 7-4

2008: Oregon State 27, #1 USC 21 (in Corvallis)
Oregon St 3rd down conversions: 7-16 (44%)
Oregon St Turnovers: 0
Oregon St Rushing Yards: 176
Oregon St Record: 1-2

So, not exactly breaking any secrets of football here but my 3 keys to pulling off the biggest upset in 6 years in college football (IMO) would be this:

1. Converting at least 45% of 3rd downs
-Kentucky is currently at 38.1% for the season.  But in their 7 games, they have converted 45% or better on 3rd down in 3 of them.  This is totally doable, especially against the conference’s worst pass defense.

2. Can’t have more than 1 turnover
-Kentucky has accomplished this goal in 5 of 7 games this season.  But in the other 2 (Vandy and Florida) they had 3 turnovers in each game.  Do that against the Bulldogs and it’s lights out.

3. Rush for at least 175 yards
-UK has accomplished this in 4 of 7 games this year, but not in either of the last 2.  Here is to hoping the running game hasn’t hit a wall because most teams that pull off upsets run the ball well, thus controlling the time of possession.

Now, how many games this season has Kentucky accomplished all 3 of these things at the same time?  That would be 3 games: UT-Martin, Ohio, and South Carolina.

I am certainly not suggesting that if UK does these 3 things they are going to win the game.  But what I am suggesting is that if they DON’T, I don’t see them pulling off the upset.

What do you think about my keys to game?  And which ones would you add?

October 21st, 2014

Season Never Ends’ Pre-Order News and Views

2014.10.21.KSR post

The Kentucky Basketball 2015 Wall calendar is here. That’s right — we said “Wall calendar!”

Rest assured we’ve still got the best moments in UK basketball history on the days they happened – including games from UK’s 2014 NCAA championship game run – along with Top Ten lists, player birthdays, Follow Fridays and a ton of really cool things you’ll be sure to love.

Use the coupon code “KSR” to take $3 off the retail price of $14.95. Buy three calendars and the shipping is on us! Calendars won’t arrive in stores until early November, so reserve your copy now at

Created by four UK grads who love the program and the school as much as you. Go Big Blue!


Monday was a “Come to Jesus” moment for the UK offense

Neal Brown told reporters after Tuesday’s practice that he dealt some cold hard reality to his offense on Monday about their atrocious performance against LSU. “I think where we’re at, especially on offense, we’ve got to learn from those mistakes, or you repeat them,” Brown said. “When we met yesterday, we were hard on those guys because we’ve got to be better. In those type of games and those type of atmospheres, we’ve got to be better.” Brown said that the staff spent the day going through the video with players and asking where and why things went wrong and how to fix them. Ultimately, Brown said he feels confident they’ll rebound against Mississippi State. “Do I think we’re better than we showed on Saturday? Absolutely,” Brown said. “I think we’ve responded every other time.”

Brown also said that Boom Williams did not practice on Tuesday, but they are hopeful he’ll play on Saturday.

Patrick Towles says the team is over LSU, ready to pull off the upset

One of the reasons I really like having Patrick Towles as the starting quarterback is because he grew up a Kentucky fan, he has a very genuine rapport with the fan base. For instance, when asked about the last time Kentucky beat a #1 team (LSU in 2007), Towles told reporters that he was actually there:

“I do remember. Yeah, I was here. I was on the field. You gotta execute well. The margin for error is very, very small. But if we practice like we did today, tomorrow and continue that on, then we’ll have a pretty good shot at it, I think.”

Towles added that he felt the Cats executed really well in practice on Tuesday, which has him feeling extremely optimistic. “We just made plays. We made plays, we took coaching. I’m very, very confident in our plan, and we executed that well.”

Kengera Daniel will announce his decision on Wednesday night

Daniel is a three-star defensive end from North Carolina and has offers from the likes of Alabama, Miami, Michigan, and Tennessee, but his decision will likely come down to Kentucky or NC State. The 6’5″ 245 lb. Kengera is considered the 23rd best weak-side defensive end in the 2015 class, and took an official visit to UK for the South Carolina game back on October 4. His Crystal Ball currently sits at 92% CATS, so I’d dig those dice out of the drawer if I were you.

Do you live in Chattanooga? Do you love frisbee?

Then you should respond to this guy’s Craigslist ad. “Yes, I am awesome at frisbee throwing and catching (especially for a man of my portly stature), but don’t let that intimidate you. Embrace my awesome. Have a drink from my flask. Let’s do this shit.”

The SEC Network will air the Blue/White game live Monday night

The SEC Network finally threw the Big Blue Nation a bone on Tuesday when they announced they will air the Blue/White scrimmage live at 7 p.m. Monday night. Dave Baker and Jeff Piecoro will be on the call and our old pal Mark Krebs will handle sideline duties. If you’d rather see the game in person, upper level tickets are still available on for only $5. Considering it’ll probably be one of the more competitive games Kentucky plays this season, you really have no excuse.

Isaiah Briscoe to cut it to three on Saturday

The top point guard in the 2015 class announced on Tuesday that he will cut his list of schools to three on Saturday. UK and St. John’s are considered his favorites, and the third school will likely be Missouri or UConn. Briscoe took an official visit to Kentucky last month for the Women’s Clinic, and seemed to like it so much that the Cats became the favorite in his recruitment, but St. John’s has made another surge. Briscoe reportedly attended a St. John’s practice at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, and there’s a lot of buzz that he will soon commit to St. John’s. Everything I’ve heard from Briscoe and his dad suggest they’re completely enamored with Kentucky, but stranger things have happened. UK still holds a lead in Briscoe’s Crystal Ball, but the last five picks, including Jerry Meyer’s, have been in St. John’s favor.

Renee Zellweger looks…different.

Yes, that is the same person in both pictures. The Renee on the left was spotted at an event on Monday night. Be careful with plastic surgery, kids.

SEC Basketball Media Days SEC Tipoff is happening in Charlotte

In what may have been an effort to trick more media into coming, SEC Basketball Media Days was renamed SEC Tipoff and relocated from Birmingham to Charlotte this year. On Tuesday, the women’s basketball teams met with the media, while the guys will get their turn in the spotlight on Wednesday. Calipari and the Harrison Twins will represent Kentucky. (Get ready for more platoon talk!)

The two news bits that stuck out to me on Tuesday: the media picked UK Hoops to finish fourth in the conference, and if Matthew Mitchell could pick someone to play him in a movie, it would be Matthew McConaughey. At this rate, what guy wouldn’t, but I think this means we need to hear Coach Mitchell’s McConaughey impression the next time he hosts KSR. Which needs to be soon.

KSR is live from the Mattress Warehouse in Ashland in the morning

Speaking of the radio show, Matt and Ryan will be live from the Mattress Warehouse in Ashland (12540 US RT 60) in the morning to talk Cats and give away some tickets. That’s quite a trek from Lexington and Louisville, so if you’re in the area, come on out to enjoy the show. If you’re lucky, Paul Finebaum will call in to give his thoughts on UK’s game against #1 Mississippi State.

See you then.

Neal Brown Responds to the Caller’s Play-Calling Critique

In case you haven’t heard (listen on the podcast around 10:00), Mark Stoops’ radio show last night was kicked off by a caller questioning some of Neal Brown’s scheming Saturday in Baton Rouge.  The caller wanted to know why the passing was so “East/West” and why they relied too much on “trickery” in the run game.

Mark Stoops did not shy away from the question, somewhat agreeing with the fan.  Brown didn’t take the question as kindly as Stoops.  I wouldn’t use the word ‘defensive’ in his explanation, but they both make logical sense.

On throwing it North/South rather than East/West…

We should put him on staff, shouldn’t we?  I don’t know.  If you look at our stats, I think we’re pretty good as far as explosive plays.  You know? That’s probably what I would say.  I think we’ve been pretty good throwing the ball down the field.  The other night, there were some times we called shot plays or downfield throws and really we just kind of got beat in some one-on-one situations.  I probably should have called some more.  I think the East/West passing game that we had, that’s what’s been really effective against LSU.  If you go back, you look at the Mississippi State game, they threw a lot of balls in the flats.  OK?  You look at Florida.  When they had success, they threw a lot of balls in the flats.  What we were trying to do is we were trying to get Stanley out there in one-on-one, and Stanley has got to do a better job of trusting his speed.  OK?  Then what we’ve got to do — we had some things where we were going to use Stanley as a decoy and then try to hit ‘em behind them. And I should have got to them.”

In fact, the offense has 27 explosive plays of over 30 yards, about four a game.  Not too shabby.  I attempted to find last years number of explosive plays in the air, but I’d venture to say there couldn’t have been many more than 27 for the entire season.

On the trickery in the run game…

“I think that was the first time we haven’t been successful in the Wildcat all year in the short-yardage.  What happened?  We were just late off the ball.  It wasn’t necessarily — the Hunter kid again, he made a really good play on that, but we were late off the ball.  If we were on time getting off the ball, I think we’ve got a decent play and we’ll be successful.  It’s not going to be a big play, but we’ll get the yard and a half we need.  But I was not pleased with how we ran the ball last week.  I think we’ve done a pretty good job, you know.  With the exception of the Florida game, the rest of the season I think we’ve ran the ball effectively.  Ran the ball really well against South Carolina.  Last week, we just got beat.  We got beat at the point of contact a lot of times.”

There is a method to the madness.  Sometimes things don’t work the way they’re supposed to.  That’s not just football, that’s life.

Marcus Lewis will take an official visit to UK on December 13

Marcus Lewis is a 4-star cornerback formerly committed to Florida, and according to Rivals’ Adam Friedman, he will take an official visit to Kentucky on December 13, the same weekend as his teammate and current UK commit Jabari Greenwood. That’s also the same weekend Damien Harris will announce his decision.

Rivals’ Mike Farrell says he believes UK is the team to beat for Lewis, followed by Georgia and Miami.


KSR will be LIVE from Mattress Warehouse in Ashland tomorrow

Matt Jones and Ryan Lemond are currently on their way to Ashland, Kentucky to see what the Ashland nightlife has in store on a Tuesday night before tomorrow morning’s live broadcast. Wednesday morning the KSR show will be coming to you live from Mattress Warehouse at 12540 US RT 60 in Ashland with Matt and Ryan talking Cats and Dawgs from the store.

Stop by if you’re in the area. If you’re not in the area, you should consider stopping by anyway. It’s going to be a fun show and they’d love to have you.

See you then.

KSR Q&A: Mississippi State

As UK football fans, we love a good underdog story, and this year in college football, there’s no better one than Mississippi State. Unranked when the season began, Mississippi State stormed to a 6-0 start, including three consecutive wins over top 10 teams, which was good enough to make them the number one team in the country. Suddenly, a game that looked like a potential win for the Cats when the season began is now a challenge of monumental proportions. What happened to the quiet little Mississippi State team that UK was capable of knocking off every now and again? Let’s find out in the latest KSR Q&A.

First, what is up with the cowbells?

According to legend, a jersey cow wandered onto the field during a Mississippi State/Ole Miss game, and the Bulldogs went on to rout the Rebels. As a result, students adopted the cow as a good luck charm, and because it isn’t very practical (not to mention messy) to bring cows to games, they started bringing cowbells. Now, it’s their thing.


But why are they still allowed to use the cowbells during games?

Good question. In 1974, the SEC outlawed artificial noisemakers in stadiums, therefore banning Mississippi State fans from bringing cowbells to games. Even though fans snuck cowbells in and basically ignored the rule, the ban was in effect until 2010, when the league agreed to allow cowbells because they are part of Mississippi State history, but only in Davis Wade stadium.

So, they’re not allowed in Commonwealth Stadium?

Nope. And I give you permission to take them from any Bulldog fan trying to sneak one in.

What is “Clanga Clanga”?

“Clanga Clanga” is the nickname given to the sound the cowbells make. With Mississippi State doing so well, “Clanga Clanga” fever has taken over the nation, sending Lou Holtz into a frenzy a few weeks ago:

I could watch that the rest of the night.


Why does the Mississippi State Bulldog look so different than the Georgia Bulldog?

I have often wondered this. Google says both are English bulldogs, but apparently the big difference is Georgia’s mascots are strictly pure white English bulldogs, while Mississippi State’s bulldogs are brown and white English bulldogs. Mississippi State’s bulldogs are named “Bully,” and for years, they were allowed to roam campus freely and live in fraternities until rival fans kept kidnapping them. Now, Bully XX (who also goes by “Champ”) lives at the Mississippi State vet school, where he works out on a treadmill wearing awesome goggles:

Who would win in a battle of the costumed mascots: the Cat or Bully the Bulldog?

I’d say the Cat. The headpiece of the Bulldog costume looks pretty heavy, plus, the bulldog has shown he’s pretty susceptible to injury. Last year, an ESPN TV cart clipped the student acting as Bully, causing her to fall down and break her leg.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 10.50.17 AM

Then again, our mascot struggles with pushups, so maybe it’s a toss up.

Why do people call Starkville “Starkvegas”?

Honestly, I’m not really sure. I even asked a few Mississippi State fans I know and they weren’t really sure, other than there is nothing to do in Starkville but party, and, like Las Vegas, it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere. What happens in Starkvegas, stays in Starkvegas? Maybe we should ask the person who created this t-shirt (which should definitely stay in Starkvegas):


Why is their quarterback named “Dak”?

Dak is actually short for Dakota, and even though “Dak” is a terrible name, “Dakota” is probably worse, so kudos to him for doing the best with what he had. Dak is considered the frontrunner for the Heisman, and is one of those dreaded dual threat quarterbacks that has given UK fits over the years. So far this season, he’s thrown for 1,478 yards and 14 touchdowns, and he’s rushed for 576 yards and eight touchdowns. Normally, at this point in listing an opponent’s stats, I’d try to vilify him, but Dak isn’t just an amazing player, he seems like an amazing person as well. Last season, Dak lost his mother to colon cancer. Ever since, he’s dedicated himself to football and helping sick children in need. There’s no vilifying that.

Dak Prescott, Dan Mullen, and Tim Tebow

Why do people keep comparing Dak to Tim Tebow?

In addition to the saint-like tendencies, Dak has a similar build to Tim Tebow, another dual threat quarterback that played under Dan Mullen (Mullen was the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Florida during the Tebow years). They even have the same jersey number. No word on if Dak is similar to Tebow in …other ways.

He can run, too? That doesn’t sound encouraging.

No, it doesn’t, especially when you add junior running back Josh Robinson to the mix. Robinson leads all active SEC running backs with 114.8 yards per game, behind only Georgia’s Todd Gurley, who is suspended indefinitely. Robinson and Prescott rank in the top four in rushing in the SEC, earning them the nickname “Dakman and Robinson.” (Get it, like Batman and Robin. It’s a bit of a stretch, I know.) UK’s run defense is currently 11th in the SEC, allowing 178 rushing yards a game, and the Cats looked especially atrocious in Baton Rouge, allowing the Tigers to run for a whopping 303 yards.

Okay, that’s enough. Show me the Lou Holtz thing again.

No problem.

The Cats Recover in Tuesday’s Practice Notes


Turning It Around

It was tough for the team to experience that beating on the road.  For Pat Towles, the pain lingered for a solid day, but Monday was a completely different story.  After failing to act like playmakers in one-on-one situations Saturday, the team pumped some Juice back into their performance. “We made plays.  We took coaching.  I’m very very confident in our plan and we executed that well,” Towles said.

We throw around the word execution a lot, but what does it mean for this team?  It’s Olinemen bursting off the ball, it’s the receivers getting open with lower pad level and it’s the accuracy of the quarterback’s throws.  Frankly, none of that was present last Saturday.  Towles wasn’t afraid to admit it either:

“The coaches can call the perfect play, but you need to execute.  We didn’t execute at any level, at any position.  You’re going to get beat by everybody if you don’t do that.”

There aren’t many better than State’s front seven

MSU’s DLine & linebackers have been gaining more praises each week, but it’s still probably not enough credit.  Towles called them “the best front seven we’ve played,” and Neal Brown said they’re “maybe the best front seven in the league, I haven’t seen them all yet.”

They’re at their best in the interior line, where the Cats OLine is the youngest and has struggled the most.  DE Preston Smith is larger than Za’Bud, and he has two interceptions.  Scary.  The only thing scarier is Bernardrick McKinney.  The LB is up for a slew of awards, despite being an unranked 3-star prospect out of high school.

Neal Brown gives their coaching staff credit for their ability to evaluate talent in the rebuilding process.  Their PTPer at wide receiver against LSU is the perfect example, “I think the big wideout was a basketball player. The big kid that made a bunch of plays against LSU, he was a basketball player in Alabama. I think he played very little football, and he’s a stud. So I think those guys — what really speaks to me is they trust their evaluation process.

No Boom today

Brown is hopeful he’ll be alright by game time.  Unfortunately the head/neck injuries must be treated with extra delicacy, leaving the decision up to the doctors.

If Boom is not good to go, expect to see more of Mikel Horton.  Horton got most of his snaps during in garbage time Saturday, but Brown liked what he saw, “He was one of those guys coming out of the game that I was excited about, because he ran the ball late in the third and the fourth quarter and I thought he did some nice things.”

Towles remembers the last time the Cats took down #1 at Home

The lifelong Cats fan was on the field in ’07 when Kentucky upset LSU.  Pat isn’t letting childhood drreams and aspirations get in the way of the job at hand, “The margin for error is very, very small.  If we practice like we did today, and tomorrow, continue to build on (it), we’ll have a pretty good shot at it I think.”

Julius Mays stopped by practice today


…and posed for a picture with his old coach. Mays played basketball in Italy last season, but he doesn’t appear to be on Mobyt Ferrara’s current roster. Regardless, it’s so good to see Uncle Julius, I won’t even mention Calipari’s crazy hair.


Be one of the first 350 fans for the SEC Nation taping and get this shirt

The SEC Network’s morning pregame show will broadcast live from Commonwealth Stadium this Saturday from 10:00 till noon. The show will be set up on the corner of Alumni and College Way.

Be one of the first 350 fans to show up and you’ll walk away with this free t-shirt from SEC Nation. Everyone else will have to settle for the memory of seeing Tim Tebow and Paul Finebaum in person.

Beat State.

Will SEC basketball have to get worse before it gets better


It’s been a very long time since SEC basketball was constantly competitive. What Coach Cal has done at Kentucky is not something any other coach could do. Coach Cal took a weak program and turned it into the powerhouse it once was in years past. Cal has turned the program into something which is above the level of basketball other teams play in the conference. Obviously because of this Mitch Barnhart has had to make our out of conference competition to help Kentucky when it comes to seeding in the NCAA Tournament. I know I am stating the obvious there.

As far as football goes, I have always had the idea that one should give a football coach three full seasons to get a good analysis of what he has done with the program and where it will be headed in the future. It takes time to get talented recruits to a school and to develop that talent to play at a NCAA level. While I am confident with my ‘coach timeline’ when it comes to football, Cal has really screwed me up with this in basketball. Part of me says, ‘well Cal turned Kentucky around in less than a year, so any other coach should be able to do it’, but I know that’s not true. It’s more impossible than that.

That is why I have been so patient with SEC Basketball. Kevin Stallings, Billy Donovan and Andy Kennedy all have longer tenures with their teams. However, after this season, eleven coaches have been with their programs for six seasons or less. Three of those coaches are new this season. As for the other eight programs, only three coaches have taken their teams to the NCAA tournament (Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia).

So what about the other programs? How long can it go before enough is enough? I don’t expect a coach to take a program to the tournament after one year, but how many years will it take before the window for success closes?

It is easier in college basketball to bring in talent to start as a true freshman than it is in football, but that talent also is quicker to to turn pro than it would in football. It takes time to find chemistry among a team, to find something that works.

If one year is to fast (when you aren’t Kentucky) and three years is the deadline for football, what is it for basketball? After typing out my thoughts and thinking about it, I would say three or four years is plenty of time to try to revive a program.

With that said, It looks this season is a make or break year for five programs in the SEC (Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi State, South Carolina, and Texas A&M). If these programs don’t do well, we could be looking at a conference with half of the coaches in their second year or newer. No one wants to start from the beginning and not knowing what the future holds for SEC basketball is scary. If these programs don’t step it up this year, the schools will have to start over and SEC basketball will only get worse before it gets better.

I am sure Kentucky and Florida would love to have more SEC representation at the NCAA tournament than just three or four teams that find themselves in it somehow. Every year when it comes time for post season, media always points to Kentucky’s weak conference schedule, something they can’t help. Will there ever come a point when SEC basketball will become ‘the’ basketball powerhouse? Do you see it happening in the near future?