Part one in an eight part series previewing the 2014 Kentucky Football Wildcats. Barring →
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I assume we’re all watching the Sugar Bowl, so let’s go ahead and dedicate the News and Views to it, too. Right now it’s halfway through the third quarter and Alabama just scored a touchdown to cut it down to a one possession game. Oklahoma, a 16.5-point underdog at kickoff, is shocking college football by even being in the game right now; and the Sooners aren’t only in it, they’re winning.
Mark Stoops is on the OU sideline with his brother Bob so we’re giving him all the credit for the good defense. But even with Stoops involved, this guy right here is pulling for Alabama. SEC all day, everyday.
Let’s get to the goods here on KSR so we can focus on the goods on TV before it’s over. And, yes, I’m talking about the crowd shots of Katherine Webb.
Anyone else Rolling Tide with me?
The Glenville Trio was all the talk on Thursday.
Three highly-touted football prospects from Glenville High School in Cleveland are making quite a bit of noise around the Army All-American Bowl down in San Antonio this week. One is currently committed to Ohio State; the other two were expected to join him Saturday; but now all bets are off.
Marcelys Jones, the name we’re most familiar with, is the committed player but he’s also the most likely to flip to Kentucky. An offensive guard in the Top247, Jones has flirted with Kentucky for awhile and he is close to finally making the jump from Ohio State to UK. He could commit to the Cats as early as this weekend.
The rumors of Jones’ wavering have been rampant for a month or so, but Ohio State fans shrugged them off, reminding everyone that Jones signed his financial aid agreement back in November and plans to enroll early for the spring semester. That is true, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. A source told KSR on Thursday that Jones also signed a financial agreement with UK, meaning he could just as easily enroll at Kentucky for the spring semester. Boom.
Jones’ Glenville teammates, safety Erick Smith and cornerback Marshon Lattimore, are also having second thoughts about Ohio State and Kentucky has entered the picture for Smith. He had originally planned to announce his decision during Saturday’s game, but he canceled the announcement on Thursday and said he will take his official visits before making the decision.
After admitting to not being so sure about his decision, Lattimore tweeted he will follow through with his announcement Saturday. He also tweeted, “People is going to be surprised by me and Erick decision.”
Lattimore’s interest in UK is not believed to be high, but his comments and the comments from his teammates suggest the Glenville Trio is splitting up.
Four-star Miami commit will visit Kentucky over Alabama.
Travonte Valentine committed to The U last May but a new friendship with Drew Barker, Matt Elam and Marcelys Jones and a phone call with the UK coaching staff has him interested in Kentucky late in the process. The 56th ranked player in 247Sports.com’s Top247, Valentine spoke with several UK coaches via phone Wednesday night and they talked to him about being a package deal with Elam and Jones.
In an interview Thursday afternoon, Valentine told 247, “I liked Kentucky for a minute. I had to go through the defense and the basics and stuff like that but other than that Kentucky’s been coming in strong right now. Last night I was shocked to hear from Kentucky.”
The defensive tackle announced on Twitter late Thursday night that he has canceled his official visit to Alabama on January 24 and will visit Kentucky instead.
Six UK football commits in Friday’s Offense-Defense All-American game.
“Boom” Williams, Thaddeus Snodgrass, Adrian Middleton, Blake Bone, Kobie Walker, and Nick Richardson will participate in the Offense-Defense All-American game in Orlando on Friday. Also known as the O-D Bowl, the game’s name confuses me but I do know it will stream live on the internet at 5:00 p.m.
Cam Newton and Dez Bryant played in it so it must be legit.
Joker Phillips’ godson used a baby to pick the “University of LSU” over Florida.
It’s all there in Jamal Adams’ Thursday announcement at the Under Armour All-American game.
Adams said he hopes Joker is doing well. I doubt he is, considering his godson just committed to another SEC school over the one where he is an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.
Congrats to the University of Louisiana State University, though.
Bud Dupree and Avery Williamson named Second Team All-SEC by Phil Steele.
Williamson was UK’s leading tackler in 2013 for the second consecutive season, totaling 102 tackles to rank tied for fourth in the SEC. The senior also had four tackles for loss, one sack, three quarterback hurries and two fumble recoveries.
Dupree led all SEC defensive linemen with 61 tackles in 2013 and finished the season with a team-best seven sacks, ranking sixth in the conference and 40th in the nation.
Congrats to both guys. It’ll be nice having Bud back for another season.
UK Hoops moved to 1-0 in SEC play with a Thursday afternoon win at Bama.
Kentucky Wildcats TV has the highlights from the 85-63 win:
Vote for Jack Demsey’s in ESPN.com’s NYC Bar Bracket.
Our good friends at Jack Demsey’s, the official bar for Cats fans in New York City, is in ESPN.com’s NYC Bar Bracket. Take a second to vote (it literally takes one second) and hopefully it’ll win the whole thing so we can brag about Kentucky having the best sports bar in New York City. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Have your voice heard in the Rupp Arena renovation plans.
Mayor Jim Gray announced two new ways Kentucky basketball fans can join the process:
(1) There will be a public meeting at the Hyatt Regency Ballroom prior to the Mississippi State game next Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. Stop by before the game or follow along via the event’s live-stream.
(2) Take the new fan experience survey at RuppDistrict.com. Click here to take the survey to rate the current conditions of Rupp Arena and give suggestions for improvement.
Oscar Combs and 247Sports’ Chris Fisher on KSR tomorrow.
Ryan Lemond will be back hosting KSR for a second consecutive show Friday morning with two new guest co-hosts. Recruiting expert Chris Fisher from 247Sports will join him in the first hour to discuss the latest from the Army All-American Bowl, then Oscar Combs will stop in at 11:00 to talk UK basketball.
If you missed Thursday’s show with Darrin Horn, you can listen to the podcast at TalkRadio1080.com.
Go Cats, everybody.
By Drew Franklin on ©10:41 pm
Travonte Valentine is going through with what he hinted at earlier today: he canceled his official visit to Alabama on January 24 and will visit Kentucky instead. The four-star defensive tackle, currently committed to Miami, the Florida one, has become close to Drew Barker, Matt Elam and Marcelys Jones this week in San Antonio and he’s interested in all the buzz around Kentucky. Valentine and his new friends spoke to the UK coaching staff Wednesday and they pitched the idea of the group being a package deal to UK.
Nick Saban must really, really hate Mark Stoops right now. Not only he is on the Oklahoma sideline, but he has All-American defensive tackles canceling official visits to Tuscaloosa.
Switching my offical visit out Alabama<Kentucky
— travonte valentine (@traveeey99) January 3, 2014
In the first conference game of the season, the 6th ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team was able to pull away and defeat the Alabama Crimson Tide 85-63. The Wildcats are now 13-1 on the season and 1-0 in the SEC. It was a nice way for the team to start the new year, playing the current last place team in the conference on the road without DeNesha Stallworth, UK’s leading scorer. Jennifer O’Neill led the way with 17 points and four 3-pointers for a high octane Kentucky offense that had four players finish in double figures.
The Cats were able to play well enough against a rebuilding Bama program to get the 20+ point victory, and one of the most impressive stats from the game was UK’s 86.7% mark from the free throw line. Foul shots have been an issue for the team all season, so to see that level of improvement on the road is a good sign. Stallworth’s replacement in the post Azia Bishop also had a stand out game, scoring a season high 16 points and eight rebounds. Kentucky desperately needs Bishop to play at a consistently high level to balance out the rest of the post.
Speaking of the post…senior Samarie Walker finished with her fourth double-double of the season with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Mitchell said she “let the game come to her” and that’s big for a player who has all the potential but who’s mentality gets caught up in the mix sometimes. In the past, the Cats have had some head scratching results on the road in conference to teams they should have beaten easily, so it was great to see Kentucky go down and take care of business.
Around the SEC, the preseason champion 5th ranked Tennessee Volunteers fell at home tonight by three points to the 16th ranked LSU Tigers. This SEC season will be a war of attrition, and teams are going to beat each other up. It’s gonna be fun, but that’s a great way for to start for the Cats.
Kentucky will return to action on Sunday afternoon at 3 in their SEC home opener. The Florida Gators are coming to down, fresh off a double-digit win against Mississippi State to start their conference season. Florida’s Coach Amanda Butler is one of my favorite for her crazy antics and stomping high heels, so you know it’s gonna be a good one. Memorial Coliseum. Be there.
Last week USA Today ranked the 6 hardest coaching jobs in sports and the head coach of Kentucky basketball came in third on the list, behind the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees. John Calipari caught wind of the list over the holidays and he responded on his official website today, saying, “I’m not sure it’s the hardest sports job, but this is one of the best.”
Coach Cal listed the four things that make his job difficult and then spun them to why they’re also what makes the job so great. He has this to say in closing:
It took me 20 years to get to a position like this. If you want me to talk about the fact that I walked uphill with holes in my shoes to school I can, but the reality is we all have a story to tell. This was a 20-year journey for me that I’m very proud of and grateful for, but I’m not going to say my job is tougher than any other job because I know how hard they all are.
There are things at coaching jobs across our state and across the country that are just as tough as this one, but I will tell you there is no better position to be in if you want to touch the people around you, from the fans, to the staff, to the players, the community, program and university. We deal with a lot here at Kentucky, but they are all things that make this worthwhile and satisfying.
Sup KSR? Big D to the O to the U then a G back up in this piece! Not gonna lie, when I wrote my first post a couple weeks ago about students at the ball games I was expecting to get chewed up and spit out by the comment trolls and handed the first ticket back to the message boards. But I must have really hit the nail on the head because they asked me to come back and drop another load of knowledge bombs and life lessons here on the BBN. Now, I’ve been asked to leave lots of times in my life but it’s been a while since I’ve been asked back anywhere, so thanks for the love.
Since there’s not much really goin’ on at the moment I thought I’d crank out a few thoughts and then see where things stand. It’s like I tell the pretty ladies walkin through campus, “hop on in the van and let daddy Doug take ya home. It’s cool, we’re classmates.”
First and foremost, happy to report Dougie Dougie Doug scored a 2.6 GPA for the Fall semester. Ok, so maybe it’s not the Dean’s List but it’s Doug’s List dammit and that’s the only list that counts (unless you’re waiting for an organ transplant, in which case I’m sorry and happy huntin’). All in all, not too shabby for an old guy trying to balance work, school, a possibly impending divorce and fiber myalgia. Life Lesson: give no F’s, get no F’s.
Daddy Doug’s New Years Resolutions for 2014:
Work a little harder, shower a little less.
Complete my undergrad requirements and sign up for MBA school.
Make one million dollars.
Shrink the gut about two, maybe three notches. Anyone got a Bowflex for sale?
Stay up to date on my manscapin’. Got away from me at times in ’13, and that’s just unacceptable.
Take the high road more often. Wise man once said, it’s the road less traveled. Preach.
Make pot brownies. Haven’t done a batch since ‘88. Ladies love em.
Streamline my social medias. This is branding 101 folks. E-Harmony, Facebook, Craigslist, Christian Mingle, Farmers Only…just don’t have time for all of it anymore and trust me, if you want to crack into the upper echelon of the cyber dating scene, you’ve gotta really put in work. Cross the a’s and dot the t’s, if you know what I mean. Yahtzee! We still sayin that?
Get involved. Now that I know I’ll be back in school for the Spring I figure I might as well put my balls on a wall and go all-in. Between my invaluable life experiences and my van I figure I have a lot to offer this campus and community. Back in ’88 you’d have never caught me dead at a school-sponsored activity that didn’t involve one of the three B’s: boozin, bonin, basketballin. I know now of course how the world works and who calls the shots, and I know this Life Lesson: it doesn’t take change to change the world, it takes paper. Don’t shortchange yourself.
Patch things up with my kid brother. Man, he’s an idiot and possibly a meth addict and might be in jail, but he’s family and I just can’t quit on him no matter how much he stole from me and all those nasty things he said to my ex (he was right on about 75% of em, btw). Might try and take him to a ball game or somethin, though last time we talked right before the fallin’ out he said he was done with UK for good over the way it treated Billy Gillispie. Boys just off a little. In the head.
Make no excuses. Well, I should say make fewer excuses…which leads me to my next Life Lesson: Don’t write checks your ass can’t cash. And by ‘ass’ I mean ‘bank account’.
Hell, I gotta stop for the night folks. Just when I was findin my stride, I know. But there’s a bucket of beer down the street in need of a good home and there should also be a special lady in there waitin on me who, according to her profile, is “all wo’ out from pitchin’ hay and ready to roll in it.” Hot dog.
Big Blue Regards,
But Netflix is so delightful. And since we’ve no place to goooooo. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
Disclaimer: Funkhouser does not condone the creeping in ‘Let it Snow’ or ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside.’ Let the girl go home to her cats. And don’t think I forgot about you ‘Santa Baby’–there’s a Mrs. Claus ya know.
The Bluegrass State transformed into the Svalbard overnight, and if the
Alabama Sugar Bowl doesn’t seem so appealing, then you’re stuck watching reruns and advertisements, and who wants to pay $5 to rent a movie on your Apple TV? (seriously iTunes, that’s outrageous)
Never fear, for Netflix Instant is here. If you’re like me, you can spend approximately 4 hours with your friends or significant other scrolling through the garbage to find something new and remotely watchable. Do not give into the temptation of watching Ryan Gosling in Only God Forgives (it is NOT Drive,) but how about a decent, somewhat thoughtful horror flick?
As one of the stronger genres in the Instant arsenal, I’ve watched just about everything, so when something new crops up I am happier than a warthog and a meerkat finding love. The 1979 classic and its sequels, Amityville Horror (Ryan Reynolds free,) was just added to Netflix, but if you want something fresh to curl up to, your best bet is Devil’s Pass.
IFC put out a unique, eclectic, and high-caliber collection of movies of 2013–Blue is the Warmest Color, Maniac, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Room 237, Crystal Fairy, and Frances Ha are among them. Three of the IFC films, Maniac, Room 237, and Frances Ha are conveniently on Netflix Instant; Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is at Redbox.
Watching Elijah Wood stab and dismember women in Maniac was trau-ma-tizing, but its first-person view into the mind of a serial killer makes it worth suffering through; if you want a tamer horror thrill that your wife or teenager could sit through, check out Devil’s Pass.
While it’s gotten rather poor reviews, I’m a movie realist–it’s important to temper my expectations from film to film. I certainly wasn’t expecting an emotional experience when my friend and I chose Devil’s Pass as our “bad movie night” selection (last week’s–Wolverine,) but the story of five University of Oregon students recreating the Dyatlov Pass Incident, was a pleasant surprise for me.
The film is about (fictional) American students who set out to make a documentary, exploring the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of nine Russian hikers in the Ural Mountains in February of 1959–now known as The Dyatlov Pass Incident.
The original group of Russian 20-somethings hike/skiing through the Ural Mountains was found dead when investigators discovered their corpses, barefoot, despite temperatures of −22 °F; it appeared as though the hikers had torn open their tents from within, and were fleeing from something.
None of the victims showed external signs of a struggle, but two had fractured skulls, two had broken ribs, and the one woman of the group, was missing her tongue and eyes.
Now I LOVE a good history mystery/conspiracy, no matter how ridiculous, and this story is certainly tantalizing enough without the modern day horror twist.
Did the original Dyatlov Pass victims die in a Russian military cover-up? Aliens? Yetis? A mystic native ritual? A horrific experiment gone wrong? Or did they fall victim to something simpler such as hypothermic psychosis causing the hikers to flee their tents in the night–barefoot, in sub-zero temperatures?
But what can explain the violent injuries!? WHAT!!?
Devil’s Pass is a flawed movie–the acting is a bit cheesy, the “reveal” that every horror film struggles with (so many go downhill F-A-S-T once the audience can see what bumps in the night) is a bit outlandish, but I would still call this movie a win for indie horror.
I enjoyed this film for a history lesson through the eyes of a conspiracy theorist on not only the fascinating Dyatlov Pass Incident, but similar unsolved mysterious around the world.
The outcome of the film was rather satisfyingly ridiculous for a horror fan as well; Devil’s Pass is in the vein of the popular, well-received 2012 film, Cabin in the Woods–though not to quite as extraordinary a degree.
So if you’re bundled up inside on these first cold nights of 2014, check out this surprising, “good-bad” horror mystery.
And c’mon, Devil’s Pass is “about” Russia. There is no more fascinating state for a conspiracy theorist or history nerd than Россия.
Rasputin was a Romanov brain-washing sorcerer, Anastasia has to be someone’s cafeteria lady, and the Cold War will never ever be over. #RussiaFacts
If you think Devil’s Pass sucks, tweet at me–I can take it.
By Drew Franklin on ©7:26 pm
Here is an interesting plot twist for you in the recruitment of Marcelys Jones. KSR has learned Jones signed a financial agreement with Ohio State and Kentucky.
The agreement is part of that new NCAA rule for early enrollees that binds the university to the recruit but not the recruit to the university, which is why he was able to sign for both schools. He will be able to enroll at either university for the spring semester.
So tell that to your Ohio State friends when they try to tell you all this Jones-to-UK talk is just internet chatter, and that he will be in Columbus next week because he already signed.
It is still anyone’s game — or it might just be Kentucky’s.
The assumed plan was for Glenville High School teammates Erick Smith, Marcelys Jones and Marshon Lattimore to attend the same school, Ohio State. Jones committed to the Buckeyes long ago, and Smith and Lattimore were expected to join him by committing this Saturday when they announce their decisions at the Army All-American Bowl. That plan has now changed.
Smith, the 11th-ranked safety in the 247Composite rankings, canceled his upcoming announcement and says he plans to take official visits before committing to one school. The big news comes just days after Smith said his mind was made up and he was ready to announce.
The same goes for Lattimore. The No. 5 cornerback in high school football told 247Sports he thought about it in his hotel room and now he isn’t as sure as he was on Sunday. Kentucky isn’t high on Lattimore’s list, but his second thoughts imply the Glenville Trio is open to splitting up in college, after it appeared they would be a package deal.
Marcelys Jones, though currently committed to Urban Meyer at Ohio State, could flip his commitment to Kentucky as early as this weekend. Ohio State expects him on campus as an early enrollee next week, but Jones is far from certain he wants to be a Buckeye.
All eyes on these three guys Saturday because anything could happen. This could be an enormous weekend for Kentucky football.
As fair as it might be right now, it still hurts to think that this year’s Kentucky team only merits “contender” status in a mediocre Southeastern Conference. But that’s exactly where the Sporting News has them going into league play in less than a week:
It is strange to see Kentucky already consigned to merely “contending” for the SEC title after the Wildcats entered the year as the nation’s No. 1, but they came by this position honestly. The talent still is there, and the time is there, but they’ll have to prove they can perform as consistently as Florida’s Gators.
The good news is that there is plenty of time between now and our first matchup with Florida, which is February 15th at Rupp. That should give this team plenty of time to learn even more, and develop as a team rather than individual players. Plus, how many free throws can they put up in a month and a half? Gotta think at least like, a hundred, right?
But Florida’s schedule is a bit like Kentucky’s: really tough, with ranked wins at home, and ranked losses away from it. The games between now and then are going to be the difference. If Kentucky keeps improving like they did so clearly during the Louisville game, and if they bring up their free throws to at least 60%, I’m pretty confident they can win both games against the Gators. Then they’ll go from “contender” to… well I don’t know. Something better than that.
But it starts in six days against Mississippi State.
The Kentucky women’s basketball team opened conference play with a win Thursday afternoon down in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The sixth-ranked Wildcats defeated the Crimson Tide, 85-63, with a team-high 17 points from Jennifer O’Neil coming off the bench. Three other Cats joined O’Neil with double-figure scoring, including Samarie Walker who recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Kentucky shot 50% from beyond the arc (10-20) and forced Alabama into 25 turnovers in the game. The win takes Matthew Mitchell’s squad to 13-1 on the year, the third consecutive season Kentucky has won its SEC opener.
Up next: Florida in Memorial Coliseum on Sunday.
Teasing fans on Twitter is the new craze these days for high school recruits. We’ve seen it in both football and basketball from several elite prospects. “Shock the world” and “Big announcement tomorrow” are the new thing, and we continue to buy into it time and time again, and it rarely amounts to anything. It’s sad, but we let 18-year-old kids drag us all along for a ride in 140 characters or less. We’re all guilty. So let’s go for another ride today, with Drew Barker driving the excitement bus.
Big news on the horizon…. ☀️
— -Drew Barker- (@D_Barker7) January 2, 2014
I assume this tweet is about Matt Elam’s decision, which won’t come as a huge surprise if he commits to Kentucky at this point. Or maybe it’s about Beyonce’s response to Miley Cyrus. Or the Bengals game selling out. I don’t know. But there it is.
Big news on the horizon that may or may not affect your happiness.
The trip to San Antonio isn’t just about playing in the Army All-American Bowl, at least for Drew Barker. KSR is hearing the UK quarterback signee is actively recruiting other players to join him in Lexington during this week’s practices and other bowl-related festivities.
Matt Elam and Marcelys Jones, roommates in Texas, are two players Barker is recruiting heavily, but there are at least a couple other guys feeling the pressure from Barker who haven’t really been on our radar until now. One of those players is Travonte Valentine.
Valentine is the No. 7 defensive tackle and the 56th ranked player overall in 247Sports.com’s Top247. He committed to Miami last May, but he’s at least listening to what Barker is pitching and a Wednesday night phone call with the UK coaching staff alongside Barker has him considering switching his scheduled official visit to Alabama to an official visit to Kentucky.
Valentine is good friends with Matt Elam and he told 247Sports.com, “He’s like my little brother. He’s been talking about Kentucky. I think they said me and Matt Elam can be the tandem going into Kentucky so we’ll see.”
Erick Smith is another player Barker is pursuing in San Antonio this week. He’s a four-star safety, considered to be an Ohio State lean. Smith is very close to Marcelys Jones — they’re high school teammates — and they’re both entertaining the idea of playing at Kentucky.
This could be a HUGE weekend for UK football recruiting and Matt Elam could get the ball rolling with a commitment, potentially setting up a package deal with the others.
Joe “No Days Off” Lunardi is approaching that time of the year when we actually care about his Bracketology, and he updated it again today for the first time 2014.
Kentucky finds itself as a 4 seed in Lunardi’s latest projections with an opening round game against Maryland in San Diego in the South Region. The Cats would meet the Colorado/New Mexico State winner in the next round before a likely Elite Eight matchup with Wisconsin, the region’s top seed.
I don’t love Oklahoma State as the 2 seed in UK’s projected region, but I’m all for a trip to San Diego and Wisconsin being the team to beat.
The stage is set for all eyes of the #BBN to be on Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Drew Barker will step into the spotlight before Matt Elam decides his collegiate future at 1:00 on NBC, but there’s another post-season All-American game that Cats’ fans should pay attention to. The Offense-Defense All-American Game features SIX members of Mark Stoops’ class of 2014. Wipe your glasses off and read that again, Mark Stoops has SIX recruits playing in an All-American game.
You probably have never heard of the OD All-American game, but the Rivals’ sponsored event has hosted NFL superstars like Cam Newton, Dez Bryant, and Carlos Dunlap. Normally shrine games like this aren’t too much fun for the fan to watch, but with six guys playing you’ll frequently see future Cats on the field.
2014 Commits Playing in the OD All-American Game
WR Thaddeus Snodgrass, 6’1, 185 lb. 4-Star
WR Blake Bone, 6’5, 205 lb. 4-Star
RB Stanley “Boom” Williams, 5’9, 190 lb. 4-Star
DT Adrian Middleton, 6’3, 245 lb. 3-Star
LB Kobie Walker, 6’4, 210 lb. 3-Star
OT Nick Richardson, 6’5, 280 lb. 4-Star
Recently dismissed Louisville forward Chane Behanan is going to Texas to work with John Lucas at his Houston-based rehabilitation program. Lucas works with athletes and coaches who struggle with drugs and alcohol, with a list of clients that includes Rod Strickland and Billy Gillispie. Strickland credits Lucas with changing his life a little over a year ago after he picked up his fourth DUI.
Behanan told ESPN.com, “I’m hoping to go down there, take care of myself and then hopefully get another opportunity — wherever it may be. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do yet. First I’m going to go get help.”
Behanan’s release from Louisville prohibits him from transferring to an ACC school, removing Florida State from consideration. American Athletic Conference schools are also out of the picture due to intra-conference transfer rules.