Good morning, family. Welcome to Friday. Glad you could make it. It’s been a fun week so far, probably more so for me than any of you not named BPsycho (I still love you, man), but this chilly Friday morning closes the first chapter of the rest of our lives together. I’m looking forward to making the most of the days that have yet to come. That same sentiment is probably also shared by Morgan Freeman, who did his best UK defense impression and was declared dead for about 30 minutes on Thursday. Fear not for Mr. Freeman, though, as his health is not an issue. Nope, he just fell victim to the old Twitter hoax and about eleventy billion people kept posting a fake CNN news notice that he had passed away. But, as is the case with all of those who have suffered a false demise before him (Eminem, Will Ferrell and the great William Hung), it did give us proper reason to pause and appreciate the greatness that we might have otherwise overlooked. Freeman has been a part of some of the biggest box office draws of all-time and won his craft’s ultimate honor once before spending his twilight years pretending to be God. Essentially, he’s the acting version of Rick Pitino. But, all joking aside, all of your friends here at KSR love you Mr. Freeman and we’re happy to hear the second strangest rumor of your life (doesn’t get weirder than this) turned out to be untrue. And we can’t wait until Invictus II.
Now onto some UK notes…
- The UK basketball future got another does of excitement on Thursday and it had nothing to do with recruiting. ESPN announced a partnership between the SEC and Big East that will transform the current Invitational into a full blown “Challenge”. All 12 SEC teams will square off against a Big East foe, but the coolest part is that the games will now be played on oen of the team’s home court, which is a change from the neutral site format for now. While UK was probably a likely team for the Invitational anyway, it guarantees them a Big East opponent – and one at home every other season – which further strengthens their non-conference schedule and gives the UK fan a chance to see a non-cupcake game at Rupp Arena every other season. For what it’s worth, John Calipari is 3-2 against the Big East in his two seasons at Kentucky after Billy Gillispie went 1-4. Oddly, Clyde’s only victory was against West Virginia. Outside his consistent defeat of the top button of his shirt, it could be his most notable win.
- One of the three UK commitments named to the Naismith POY watch list on Thursday took the national stage later in the evening and put together a solid game, though most of the talk afterward centered on how overmatched his team was against a Whitney Young squad full of Division-1 prospects. Anthony Davis finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds, four steals and three blocks as his Perspectives team got thrashed 76-47. It was clear that, despite the beating, that Davis is certainly worthy of all of the accolades thrown in his direction and, after the game, ESPN’s Reggie Rankin commended Davis for his consistent effort and the way he tried to motivate his team, which was clearly in over its head. Rankin added that he “can’t wait to see him on the floor with all the talent at Kentucky”. And, in Davis’ defense, those Whitney Young kids practice too damn much.
- The other big news on Thursday was the official announcement of Rick Minter and Steve Pardue as the newest members of Joker Phillips’ staff. Pardue, who comes from LaGrange High School in Georgia, will replace Larry Brinson as the running backs coach and Minter will serve as the co-defensive coordinator, provided that Steve Brown doesn’t excuse himself after the season. There was some rumbling and grumbling from a few fans who weren’t thrilled about hiring Indiana State’s linebackers coach to take over the UK defense (to be fair, he was there for a year to coach with his son) and bringing in a high school coach. But, to play devil’s advocate, Minter has a long resume of success as a defensive coach and Pardue brings a wealth of recruiting connections to a staff who has a former high school coach (Chuck Smith) as one of its best assistants. Most importantly, they’re two guys who Joker Phillips is confident with and feels comfortable having under his direction, which is probably the most important thing. I doubt either hire has anyone rushing out to drop a check off at Mitch Barnhart’s office for new football facilities, but they have the potential to be very successful in their roles.
- One immediate concern that the hiring of Minter brings is the presumption that he will favor runing a 3-4 defense. Kentucky has traditionally struggled to recruit the proper guys to run that type of defense (*cough* Mike Archer *cough*) and has a roster full of guys who not only were recruited for a 4-3, but already have trouble stopping the run. But, one of the strengths of UK’s recruiting over the past several seasons has been the ability to recruit guys who were versatile (or some might say “tweeners”) and there are some that could move fairly easily. The first that comes to mind is Taylor Wyndham to outside linebacker. But, the most important piece will be the defensive line and while Donte Rumph could fit in at defensive end nicely, it puts a lot of pressure on whoever will play the tackle position, most likely Mister Cobble. Also…man…my head hurts…can’t type anymore…we need Rob Gidel…yes, we do need Rob Gidel…hmmm….
- Thursday also gave us another chance to look deeply into the pretty eyes of Randall Cobb and listen to #18 ponder his decision to go pro early. He told the media that he’s still trying to decide and gather all the information that he can before making his call, but you’d have to imagine that it would be hard for him to return if he’s projected to go on the first day of the draft. With UK breaking in a new quarterback and Cobb essentially proving himself as much as he can in only three years, his status might not improve, no matter how successful his senior year. Plus, when you factor in another year of beating on a body that has taken far too many hits in three heavily involved years, it appears that it might be tough for Cobb to see sufficient reason to come back. Of course, there’s always that Tennessee game…
- What do you get when you mix a UK football player, his car, a professional wrestler and a fire? This story. UK football player Antwane Glen apparently got some shoddy work done on his car at a garage owned by former WWE Women’s Champion Lisa Marie Varon. Then, WHAS did a report on their Consumer Watch segment. Then the garage caught on fire. This has absolutely no bearing on the UK program, but I’m contractually obligated to mention wrestling at least once in each night post.
- For all of you international basketball fans, Rick Pitino confirmed that he was going to meet with Puerto Rican National Team officials to discuss their head coach opening. Meanwhile, ESPN Dallas says that Pitino is flying to America’s foster child this weekend and will accept the job Monday after meeting with JJ Barea and Carlos Arroyo in Miami on Sunday. Sources say he’ll also be in town to announce a new four-game agreement with the Miami International University of Art and Design.
- In what might have been the worst idea in the history of ideas, Vanderbilt will announce their new football coach on Facebook. The Commodores made an announcement on Facebook that there will be an announcement on Facebook, which, of course, gave the world an opportunity to get involved in the process. And they did not disappoint. You can check it out here.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned throughout the day as we talk about all the wonderful happenings in the world of Kentucky Sports. BTI will get things going with a trip down memory lane at 10 am. It can only go up from there. Make sure you stick around. In the meantime, enjoy some Anthony Davis highlights from Thursday night’s ESPNU game. See you in a few…