We’re nearing that time of the year where we start making those annoying annual “(Blank) of 2012″ lists. If I were to make a “WTF of 2012″ list, Michael Strahan being named as Regis Philbin’s replacement on “Live! With Regis and Kelly” would be up there. Now, I don’t follow morning television (something that will probably change once I start working from home), but Strahan’s co-hosting gig seemed to come out of nowhere. Turns out Strahan has a pretty extensive IMDB page, ranging from his regular stint on Fox NFL Sunday to the TV show “Brothers” (tagline: “When it comes to family, no one plays fair”). And here I thought Strahan was just a regular ole record-breaking Pro Bowler with a 14-year NFL career. Silly me.
Because Wednesday is Michael Strahan’s birthday (happy 41st! Did you know that’s the new 21st?), I decided to look up some YouTube clips of him on “Live with Kelly and Michael.” He’s actually not too bad, although I spent most of the time gawking at just how much taller he is than Kelly Ripa, who for many reasons, I don’t believe is human. (Seriously, the man must be three feet taller than her.) Anyways, when I got over the height thing, I saw that Michael is funny, goofy, and really has that whole “I’m a big football player but am still scared of snakes!” thing down pat:
Happy birthday, Michael. No snakes, I swear.
Lets news it and view it.
— First up, your Boone’s Butcher Injury Report: Ryan Harrow is feeling “better” and returned to practice on Tuesday. Cal said that he would decide whether or not Harrow would play Wednesday night based on how he did in practice, which means we’ll find out in the morning. He mentioned once again that Harrow has lost seven pounds and looks thin, which means that Ryan will be the one person I know that will have a guilt-free Thanksgiving feast.
— Another reason for the seven-pound weight loss: Harrow shaved the flat top. Was the flat top really just a parasite, feeding off Harrow’s energy? If so, good riddance. Also, @NoelsFlatTop, I’m watching you.
— On Tuesday, we finally shut the door on Sean Woods’ comments from Monday. If you’ve had your head buried in the sand, Woods told reporters that he got a bad vibe from the current crop of Cats at the Hurricane Sandy telethon and that to him, they didn’t seem like Kentucky players. Woods quickly backtracked and apologized for the comments, even coming on the radio show Tuesday morning to further express his regrets. When asked about the comments in his pregame press conference, Cal brushed them off, saying that it was no big deal. As for his players’ behavior during the telethon, Cal said they were nothing but humble, “hugging employees” and helping out. In fact, Cal said he “loves” what his team is about, and that being in the Big Blue Fishbowl is a hard thing, but that they’re all dealing with it pretty well. He said Woods simply misspoke, and said that he tries to ignore “all that stuff”:
“Do you know how much is said about this program and me personally? Oh my gosh. You’d think I look like that [throws up devil horns]. I don’t listen to it. And then the other stuff is I walk on water. Guess what? I don’t. I’m a regular guy…
…I wear pajamas
…and eat chicken on my recliner.”
— So enough about Sean Woods’ comments…what about his actual team? Morehead State is known for their full-court press, which the Cats have been working on in practice this week. Even so, Cal doesn’t think they’re ready: “We’re not prepared. We don’t scramble and if the game is allowed to be physical they’ll turn us over a bunch. But it’s what we need.” Morehead is 12th nationally in defensive turnover percentage (kenpom.com) and even though most fans have written this game off as a blowout, the Eagles play a high-tempo style than may give this young group fits.
— Cal said that although he hasn’t had time to watch any SEC games yet, he has confidence in the league: “The league is fine. [Author’s note: Except for Mississippi State.] They’ll be fine. I wish ’em well unless they playing us. Then I hope they get smashed.” #calswag
— Willie Cauley-Stein’s rise from project player to star has been one of the best storylines this season. WCS’ progress has been so impressive that Adam Zagoria mentioned him as a potential dark horse for the number one pick in next year’s draft. Whoa. Even better, after Cal praised Noel as being the “energy guy” during practice a few weeks ago, apparently “Willie got mad and he said ‘I’m an energy guy too, I’ve just been sick.’ I said okay, I’ll be watching.” I admire Cauley-Stein’s drive, but can we PLEASE get everyone healthy over there at the Wildcat Coal Lodge. Hear me, Chef Chris? Chicken noodle soup eryday eryday!
— Tuesday was a busy day on the Dakari Johnson front. The 2013 big man is still considering six schools (Florida, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio State and Syracuse), and now he finally has an offer from the Cats. According to his mother, the Cats are pretty high on the list. Dakari’s mom, Makini Campbell, told ZagsBlog that because the family’s connections to Lexington (they lived there for three or four years during which Dakari attended Sayre Middle School), they are paying close attention to the Cats. Johnson’s mother maintains that they will wait until the spring to sign, which means he could end up picking the Cats before fellow 2013 big men Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon.
— Speaking of Gordon, his mother had some nice things to say about the Cats to a San Jose newspaper on Tuesday. Gordan’s mother spoke fondly of Kentucky, saying Cal and his staff were good people she could trust her son with and that he plays best under bright lights. Gordan, who is still considering Arizona and Washington along with UK, says he review how each team does over the next few months and how they utilize versatile players, like him. (And several players on the current Kentucky squad.)
— Did somebody say versatile? Remember MKG? According to Grantland’s Zach Lowe, MKG’s current offensive rebounding rate is 2 percentage points higher than any small forward put up last season. #WWMKGD
— What? Of course you want more recruiting news. Over the past week, all signs have pointed towards 2015 (possibly 2014) phenom Karl Towns picking the Cats on December 4th, but Adam Zagoria says not so fast: Duke may be a serious contender as well. According to “sources close to the situation,” Towns will decide between Kentucky and Duke. Zagoria spoke to Towns’ mother, Jackie, on Tuesday, who said that Towns has a great relationship with Coach K, and Towns himself says he is encouraged by the work Coach K has done with big men such as Ryan Kelly and Kevin Love (on Team USA). Not to pooh-pooh Zagoria’s sources or anything, but after Towns’ AD basically spilled the beans that Karl was picking the Cats, I’m not that worried. **knock on wood**
— One last recruiting tidbit: Tyus Jones, the top ranked recruit in the 2014 class, is getting ready to set a date for his visits to Kansas and Kentucky. Jones, who many believe is the best point guard in the country regardless of class, wrote in his USA Today HS blog that he’s down to eight schools: Baylor, Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Kansas and Kentucky. Also, his favorite Thanksgiving food is sweet potatoes.
— Hey, there’s a football game on Saturday! On Tuesday, the coordinators faced the media to preview the matchup against Tennessee, but ended up mostly reflecting on their time at Kentucky. Randy Sanders said that the win over Tennessee last season was a highlight of his career at UK, and that he sees the irony of his last game as a Kentucky coach taking place in Knoxville, where he both played and coached. He also endorsed Maxwell Smith as next season’s starting QB, if that matters at all to the next staff.
— In “As the Coaching Carousel Turns,” another name surfaced on the UK coaching radar: Dirk Koetter. Pat Forde mentioned Koetter as a potential candidate back when the job first opened, but until now, we haven’t heard much more about him. Koetter, currently the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, is a proven college head coach with an impressive record as an offensive coordinator (have you seen the Falcons’ offense this season?). Also atop the list is Butch Jones, who reportedly told the Fox TV station in Cincinnati that he has not heard from the Cats yet. Just two names to keep in mind heading into the final game of the season.
— Holy SEC coaching rumors, Batman! According to Ron Higgins, who writes for the Memphis Commercial Appeal and SECSports.com, Arkansas reportedly offered Jon Gruden the head coaching job, but despite the glory of the “Hey Grude” video, he turned them down. Why? Private donors at Tennessee have put together a “mind-blowing” offer for an eight-year deal with Gruden. Until Chucky puts on a coonskin cap and rides Smokey around campus, I’m not believing a word of it.
— One former football Cat is having a rough night. Winston Guy, a safety for the Seattle Seahawks, has been suspended for four games by the NFL for use of a performance-enhancing substance. According to Sports Radio KJR, it appears to be an innocent mistake by Guy from taking a workout supplement that contained a banned item. Guy has owned up to the mistake and will not appeal the suspension.
— Let’s not end on a bad note. As we all know, the Big Blue Nation is everywhere, including Maui for the Butler/North Carolina game:
I knew Elvis was alive! See you in the morning.