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CBS Sports Lists the Issues Facing the SEC This Offseason

CBS Sports Lists the Issues Facing the SEC This Offseason

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There’s only 89 days until college football season kicks off and with that in mind, the SEC will convene in Destin for their annual spring meeting this week. Apparently, they will have a long of things to discuss for the upcoming season. CBS Sports’ Jon Solomon took the initiative to list some of the most pressing matters that will have to be put on the table in Destin this week. In the article, Solomon lists eight things that the conference will need to address, but what was most interesting to me was his take on the state of conference’s divisional imbalance in football:

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn made some waves in April when he told ESPN’s Chris Low he thinks “there will be a discussion” about the Tigers changing divisions to the SEC East. The SEC quickly shot that down and said there has been no discussion of divisional realignment. Two years ago, SEC schedules were set through 2025.

But when asked several times last week, Sankey wouldn’t say if there are discussions of realigning divisions. The West has seven straight SEC championships and has won 70 percent of games against the East since 2009.

Kentucky’s Mark Stoops and Tennessee’s Butch Jones enter their fourth seasons as the longest-tenured SEC East coaches. Advanced stats by Bill Connelly found the SEC East in 2015 was by far the worst division among the Power Five conferences. The SEC East was rated closer to both divisions in the American Athletic Conference and Mid-American Conference than it was to the SEC West.

“It is cyclical,” Sankey said. “We’ve had great competition in divisions for nearly 25 years and we expanded and we’ve kept divisions, and we look forward to our division champions to continue to meet in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.”

So does that mean there’s no talk of realigning divisions? “Just exactly what I said,” Sankey said.

Right, but there have been stories with people floating ideas. So is there actual talk within the SEC of possibly realigning divisions? “I see stories as well,” Sankey replied.

To read the whole article, head over here. It’s a pretty interesting read for a slow news Sunday.


ESPN blames UK football struggles on 2014 class

Mark Stoops was able to haul in the best recruiting class in school history despite finishing just 2-10 the season before. The program was bought in and Stoops Troops seemed to be turning the Cats around for a major comeback in the SEC. Fast forward two years and two 5-7 season’s with no bowl trip later, Stoops seat is getting just a little warmer. Who is to blame for our struggles? ESPN writer Alex Scarborough thinks the 2014 recruiting class, albeit very young, has a big part to play in the continued lack of success last season.

Key storyline: Flashback to 2014. Kentucky has the best signing class in school history with six ESPN 300 signees and eight total four-stars. Ware’s the highest-rated player, Barker’s the face of the class and receiver Thaddeus Snodgrass and running back Stanley Williams have the look of future stars in the SEC. For good measure, Kentucky fans can thump their chests about signing big defensive tackle Matt Elam, who considered committing to Alabama. The future looks bright. But in the two seasons since arriving in Lexington, the 2014 class hasn’t exactly paid off. There have been flashes of potential, but not a single bowl game. And now that has to change. For Kentucky to get over the hump, it’s up to those redshirt sophomores and juniors to make good on their potential and carry the program.

While it may not be fair to place full blame on the 2014 class, it is factual that if we plan on getting to a bowl next year our talented juniors and redshirt sophomores need to be the guys stepping up. It’s their time to shine after two years in the program, and they have a burden placed on their shoulders to guide this team in the right direction for the 2016 season. Rally the troops, fellas, we need a bowl game trip in December.


Tim Couch, Wesley Woodyard, Danny Trevathan and @UKCoachStoops is a solid foursome.

Pick Your Kentucky Football Golf Scramble Foursome

Tim Couch, Wesley Woodyard, Danny Trevathan and @UKCoachStoops is a solid foursome.

Tim Couch, Wesley Woodyard, Danny Trevathan and @UKCoachStoops is a solid foursome.

The U Club was flooded with former Kentucky football greats on Monday for Wesley Woodyard’s 16 Ways Charity Golf Scramble.  Scramble season is finally here.

It was an entertaining ensemble of characters.  From Mark Stoops and Joker Phillips, to Lamar Thomas and Danny Trevathan, the combinations sparked my curiosity.  If I could pick three for footballers to play 18 holes, who would I turn to?

The first criteria has to be someone that will “enjoy” themselves on the course.  You can’t have anyone being too serious when you have an unlimited supply of beer.  Secondly, it’d be nice to have someone who isn’t too bad at hitting a golf ball.  Even though this is a hypothetical game, you can’t pick Bear Bryant; only former footballers who are still living and able to play (the latter takes Freddie Maggard out of consideration).  My trio:

Rich Brooks

You can find more pics of retired Rich on the golf course @UKCoachbrooks.

You can find more pics of retired Rich on the golf course @UKCoachbrooks.

If Coach Brooks isn’t everybody’s number one selection, you’re playing this game wrong.  Not only is he well versed with the links in retirement, he also knows how to have a good time.  He also doesn’t hesitate to talk trash.  Even if you’re on the same team, you need a good trash-taller in the group.  If only you could add Spurrier to the team…

Sonny Collins

Image via Herald-Leader archives.

Image via Herald-Leader archives.

I never saw Sonny Collins play a snap, but all I have to do is see that picture to know that Collins would be a great guy to spend a day with on the golf course.  Collins wasn’t just a great running back, he was a great personality, one I’d like to get to know.  The epitome of cool, Collins starred for some of the best teams Kentucky has ever fielded.  It was also when they got caught cheating, which I’m sure is worth at least one good story.  A Madisonville native, I know another guy from Madisonville who’s pretty proficient on the golf course.  There must be something in the water…

Jared Lorenzen

Ryan could be the caddy.

Ryan could be the caddy.

I’m going to be honest, I didn’t really want to pick Jared.  If you’re playing a fun, hypothetical game, you should let your imagination run wild; you shouldn’t pick someone who you could potentially play with if you could ever figure out how to say their name correctly on a podcast.  However, you can’t have a fantastic UK football foursome and not include Gerald.

Even though I’ve heard many of his NSFPodcast stories, I know there are some hiding deep in the archives.  He’s an exceptional trash-talker, one that takes it as well as he dishes it.  He won’t drink all of the beers because he’s a rum and coke guy.  Even better, he played for Coach Brooks.  That means if Brooks was planning on being somewhat subdued, Jared holds the key to unleashing a floodgate of phenomenal stories.

Honorable Mention

Tim Couch
Hal Mumme
Avery Williamson
Jeff Snedegar
Dicky Lyons Jr.
Stevie Johnson
Tim Couch’s offensive line
Jon Toth (just to make Freddie jealous)

Who would YOU include in your UK Football Foursome?


UK Fans of the Day Want some Football Recruiting News

uk-fans-of-the-day

A Giant Preferred Walk-On 

Earlier this week Waggener’s Kevin Kirby signed to play for Kentucky.  Standing 6’6″ tall and weighing in at 270 pounds, Kirby has the measurements to play Division I football, but not the experience.  He’s only played two years of football, leaving plenty of room for the raw prospect to improve.

He spoke with Bradley “B-Roll” McKee after the announcement.

Cats are Treating Ahman Ross Right

The three-star safety and former Miami commit received a UK offer right after he decommitted from the Canes.  The defensive superstar for The Bolles School and close friend of Mac Jones received this in the mail today.

Stoops Offers Someone from Home

Mark Stoops’ Ohio pipeline is no secret.  With plenty of connections back home, he and Vince Marrow are always there to offer top talent early.  That’s the case with sophomore-to-be Kyle Jornigan.  The 6’4″ 290-pound defensive tackle plays at Stoops’ alma mater, Cardinal Mooney.

Cardinal Mooney has given Stoops a few talented players on defense.  “A few” is actually an understatement.  Some of the most important players on this year’s defense are from Mooney: Courtney Love, Marcus McWilson and Jordan Jones.

Six Other Offers Extended This Week

Warren McClendon:  The Georgia offensive tackle finished his freshman year by receiving his first scholarship offer from Alabama.  UK’s offer followed South Carolina and Tennessee.  Highlights

Trey Hill:  Another young and talented offensive tackle from Georgia, the Cats offered the junior-to-be  a day after Tennessee.  Highlights

Shakur Brown:  Matt House gave the 2017 Georgia athlete only his second scholarship offer.  The other — West Virginia.  Highlights

Alontae Taylor:  The Manchester, Tennessee athlete is dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2018 that will likely use his talents differently at the next level.  Taylor received an early offer from the Volunteers after a few other small schools in the state.  Louisville, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Georgia Tech are the other big names investing in Taylor.  Highlights

Greg Emerson:  Another exceptional athlete from the state of Tennessee, the defensive end is a rising star in the Class of 2018.  Michigan State, Memphis and Jackson State have also extended offers.  Highlights

Jaden Davis:  The Ft. Lauderdale cornerback was a freshman phenom for St. Thomas Aquinas High School last fall.  He already has five scholarship offers on the table: Mizzou, Miss. State, Youngstown State and Cincinnati.  Highlights


UK Athletics

People Agree, Chris Westry is Elite

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

It ain’t hard to tell Kentucky cornerback Chris Westry is an elite athlete.  All you have to do is stand next to him.

If his length doesn’t impress you, the weight he’s thrown on his shoulders will.  “The look test” or “the eye test” is a term often thrown around when discussing football.  He passes that test with flying colors.  Jared Lorenzen and Matt Jones see football very differently, but they both had the same jaw-dropping reaction when they saw him on the football field for the first time.

Others outside of the state are beginning to see what we’re seeing.  Named to the SEC’s All-Freshman team last year, he’s prepared to take another giant step forward this fall.  He told me after the spring game:

“You already had the getting your feet wet aspect of it.  It’s already over.  So you have to keep the car in drive and go faster,” he said.  “They’re not expecting me to make freshman mistakes any more.  It’s time to grow up and be able to do great things.”

The next step forward is becoming one of the best lock-down cornerbacks in the SEC.  It’s a bold statement, but it’s not crazy.  In fact, Saturday Down South thinks he’s one of the Top Ten cornerbacks in the SEC, ranking Westry at #7.

He made an impact as a freshman, but Kentucky is pressing the 6-foot-4 Westry to be even better. His length gives him something the other top SEC corners don’t have — an NBA wing span to take on big receivers.

Not only is he a fantastic football player, he’s got moves that are smoother than blue suede shoes.


Kentucky Football’s Most Irreplaceable Player

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Earlier this week, CBS Sports chose the 16 most irreplaceable players in college football.  Unsurprisingly, no one from Kentucky made the list.  But it got me thinking: who would be the most detrimental loss on Kentucky’s roster?

Without one superstar that’s a cut above the rest, here are a few candidates to consider.  You decide.

Boom Williams

Boom is the closest thing Kentucky has to a superstar.  A highlight waiting to happen, Boom’s big-play ability is lethal.  With 1,341 career rushing yards, if he improves on last year’s performance he could become one of the school’s Top Five rushers, surpassing players like Artose Pinner, Derrick Locke and George Adams.

There are a few things that could get in Boom’s way.  There’s no denying that Boom had some “issues” last year, from attitude to being in shape.  He has a new, no-nonsense coach.  Eddie Gran can make him the best running back he can be, but he also won’t hesitate to bench him.  JoJo Kemp has consistently improved, Mikel Horton has become more explosive out of the backfield, Sihiem King was the surprise of the spring and Gran has two incoming freshman to throw into the mix this fall.

Drew Barker

Barker has yet to prove that he will live up to the hype from his high-profile recruitment.  Although, things are looking up for the redshirt sophomore.  He has a pair of games under his belt to understand what it takes to win.  He matured in the offseason, on and off the field.  In the spring game he was efficient, leading an impressive two-minute drill for a touchdown to close out the first half.

Kentucky’s success usually falls on the shoulders of the quarterback.  If he exceeds his potential, the Cats will surpass fans’ expectations.  If he can’t be the one to do it, the Cats do have a dynamic backup in Stephen Johnson.  Johnson doesn’t have the same tools as Barker, but he has a nice touch pass and can use his feet to keep defenses on their toes.

Courtney Love

We’ve seen very little of Love, but his hard-nosed, smash-mouth attitude on the practice field has given him plenty of notoriety.  The gritty Youngstown native can become the next member of Linebacker U.  Arguably the thinnest position on the defense, if the inside linebacker goes down, finding someone to fill in will not be easy.

Chris Westry

The All-Freshman SEC cornerback is back, bigger and better than before.  Westry will build an island in the open-field, taking away a side of the field.  If there’s one Wildcat you look at and say, “he’s going to play on Sundays,” it’s Westry.

On the other side of the field, Derrick Baity looms.  For the first time in a long time (maybe ever), the Cats’ strength on defense will be at cornerback.  If you take that strength away, it will be difficult to find a defensive identity.

Jon Toth

Toth’s candidacy isn’t just to make Freddie Maggard a happy man.  He’s the best center in the SEC, the most important position on the offensive line.  An intelligent player and one of the few senior leaders, he commands a group that will be more talented, but also very young.

Even though Toth is essential, Bunchy Stallings and Drake Jackson proved to be formidable during the spring game.  Like others, Toth’s tangibles could be replaced, but his leadership cannot be replaced.


I think I have to go with the quarterback, because no position is more important to the Cats’ success, but it’s your decision BBN.


survey services

A Friendly Reminder from KY Wildcats TV: Football is Coming

A Friendly Reminder from KY Wildcats TV: Football is Coming

football-is-coming

Even though Drew Franklin already covered this topic earlier today, it’s worth repeating — THERE ARE ONLY 100 DAYS UNTIL FOOTBALL SEASON.

Freddie Maggard is supposed to be going on vacation this weekend.  Instead of prepping by reading guidebooks and mapping his route, he’s prepping for Shannon Dawson and Southern Miss with Christi Thomas.  No rest for the wicked.

The heavy lifting for KY Wildcats TV has also begun.  Their heavy lifting is filming the heavy lifting that’s happening at Nutter.  Per usual, your pulse will react accordingly.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMdpN3U–Zk


100 Days Until Kickoff LETS GOOOOOOOO

@UKStoopsTroops

The countdown clock hit the 100-day mark until Kentucky football’s season opener in Commonwealth Stadium. We have a little summertime to enjoy first, but it won’t be long before Shannon Dawson brings his high-powered, fade-route-from-the-one-yard-line, draw-on-3rd-and-13, it-would’ve-been-a-good-call-if-it-worked offense back to Lexington with his new team, Southern Miss.

That game will kick off on Saturday, September 3 (the Thursday night move is 100 percent not happening), 100 days from now, at a time to be announced later on.

100 DAYS LESSSSSGGGGOOOOOOOOOO


Jacob Tamme reads mean tweets about himself

Jacob Tamme reads mean tweets about himself

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 3.25.30 PM

Over the weekend, Jacob Tamme was voted “Most Hated Player in the NFL” in a Sirius XM NFL Radio poll, which is hilarious because the former Cat and current Atlanta Falcon might be the nicest person on the planet. Turns out a Colts fan called into the Sirius show to complain that Tamme would catch all of Dallas Clark’s touchdown passes when Clark was hurt, and from there, football fans voted for Tamme in the poll as a joke.

Tamme being Tamme, he’s taken his new title in stride, reading a series of “mean tweets” from the contest on camera:

I’ll add another to the list of why Tamme is THE WORST: He rubs it in when your team loses to his.

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 3.37.07 PM

(Don’t worry, I’ve already got my smack talk planned for this fall.)


Another sneak peek at the new football training facility

Another sneak peek at the new football training facility

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Want another peek at UK Football’s new training facility? @UKStoopsTroops shared some pictures on Twitter and SnapChat this morning, which I am happy to pass along, starting with the lobby:

@UKStoopsTroops

Player’s lounge:

@UKStoopsTroops

And the new training fields:

And some other pictures from their SnapChat tour:

IMG_0417 IMG_0418 IMG_0419

The facility is scheduled to be finished in July.


Football recruits rank UK’s uniforms among the best in college football

Mark Zerof | USA Today

Mark Zerof | USA Today

Since Mark Stoops took over, UK Football has made a habit of switching up their uniform combinations, and this fall, will debut new uniforms featuring the new secondary logo. It’s easy to roll your eyes at stuff like this, but in a recent study of uncommitted football recruits, Kentucky’s uniforms were voted among the best in college football.

Oregon’s uniforms received the most votes, followed by Baylor, TCU, Maryland, Florida State, Arizona State, Oklahoma State, and Notre Dame. Kentucky’s jerseys received the 13th most votes, the most of any SEC team. Interestingly, Alabama’s uniforms were voted the worst, along with Penn State, proving that, when it comes to high school boys, tradition isn’t everything.

Bragging about uniforms when you haven’t been to a bowl since 2010 isn’t exactly ideal, but hey; this is Kentucky football, we’ll take what we can get.

[Pick Six Previews]


Brian Cole taking the JUCO route over Kentucky

Once believed to be a future Wildcat, Michigan transfer Brian Cole has decided to take his talents to junior college. Cole is headed to East Mississippi Community College, not Kentucky, per 247Sports. He had previously been bound for Lexington, where he was originally scheduled to sit out the 2016 season and then have three seasons of eligibility going forward.

Cole signed with Michigan as the No. 1 recruit in the state and No. 65 overall in the entire 2015 class. A wide receiver/safety option, he was the No. 5 athlete in that group.

He will still consider Kentucky after JUCO, according to the report. Still, it’s a tough loss for Stoops & Co. as Cole would’ve really helped after sitting out his transfer year.


@Finebaum

Commonwealth Stadium is NOT a Tough Place to Play

commonwealth

It’s no secret that Commonwealth Stadium isn’t the most intimidating place to play football.  There have been nights where the noise becomes defeaning — Alabama in 1997, Louisville and LSU in 2007, South Carolina in 2014 — but those are not common occurrences.

OK, so the atmosphere isn’t the greatest, but how does Commonwealth Stadium compare to its SEC competition?  Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report doesn’t think the $120 million renovation will turn Commonwealth into a hostile environment.

The Wildcats haven’t won more than two SEC games at home in any single season since 2009—Rich Brooks’ last as the head coach of the program prior to the arrival of Joker Phillips. The lack of success of the Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium coupled with its relatively small size (by SEC standards) doesn’t give current head coach Mark Stoops much of a home-field advantage to work with.

How bad is it?  If you remove Vanderbilt’s sad, sorry stadium, the Cats are ranked dead last.

@Finebaum

@Finebaum

[Bleacher Report]


Mark Stoops and Joker Phillips chat on the golf course

@Beisner_cn2

Wesley Woodyard is hosting a charity golf scramble today at the University Club, and from the looks of it on Twitter, the event is a who’s who for the Kentucky football program. According to our own Drew Franklin, Tim Couch, Danny Trevathan, Mitch Barnhart, Mark Stoops, and Joker Phillips are participating in the event, which will raise money for Woodyard’s 16 Ways Foundation. In fact, Thomas Beisner snapped that picture up there of Stoops and Joker chatting.

Wonder what they’re talking about. Maybe how Tim Couch still looks like he could play?

Mitch Barnhart and Joker chatted as well:

Caption these?


Ferris Bueller’s Monday Morning Wakeup

Believe it or not, it’s been 30 years since “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” debuted in theaters, and over the weekend, the city of Chicago celebrated with Ferris Fest, a three-day festival honoring all things Bueller. John Hughes’ 1986 classic has held up remarkably well, from the iconic “Bueller, Bueller, Bueller” scene with Ben Stein to Charlie Sheen and Jennifer Gray’s rendezvous at the police station, and Cameron’s “If Cameron was in Egypt’s Land” pity party (some of you may be feeling like that this morning).

And, of course, the infectious “Twist and Shout” parade, which festival organizers recreated in Daley Plaza yesterday:

Here’s to carrying some of that energy into Monday. I know I could use some of it.

Now, for what’s happening in UK land…

We continue to wait for Isaiah Briscoe and Marcus Lee’s decisions

The two potential remaining pieces to UK’s 2016-2017 roster have until midnight on Wednesday to decide whether or not to return to school, making the next two days very, very interesting. After a horrible Combine, Marcus Lee canceled his remaining NBA workouts, which you can read a few different ways: 1) He realized he needed to come back to school for another year to improve his stock; 2) He didn’t want to further damage his stock in hopes someone might still pick him up. Honestly, as much as I love Marcus, I’m going with the latter. I think his mind is set on being in the league, even if it means not being drafted and having to play in the D-League/overseas for a few years. This morning, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman is reporting that Lee is still torn over the decision and could go either way.

Briscoe is a bit of a different story. He didn’t get invited to the Combine, but has reportedly performed very well in team workouts. Today, he’ll participate in a group workout with the Minnesota Timberwolves, as well as the Atlanta Hawks, who have two second round picks.

UK Football got a big 2017 commit

JuCo defensive lineman Phil Hoskins committed to Kentucky this weekend over Baylor, Oklahoma State, Colorado, Houston, Mississippi State, and more, giving the 2017 class a much-needed boost after two decommitments last week.  The 6’5″ 275 lbs. Hoskins is from Toledo, Ohio, and picked up nine of his 15 offers in the past month.

Another recruit to keep an eye on this week: 2018 defensive end Alex Reigelsperger. Reigelsperger, teammate of incoming freshman Tobias Gilliam, was supposed to visit campus this weekend, and a Yahtzee seemed in the works, so stay tuned…

Congrats to UK Softball on a great season

The UK Softball team lost a heartbreaker to Utah in the NCAA Regionals yesterday, but kudos to them for a historic season. The ladies finished with a 46-14 overall record on the season and a program-record second-place finish in the Southeastern Conference. They beat 11 ranked teams in 2016 and had the most road wins of anyone in the nation, with a 20-3 record away from home.

Hold your heads up high, girls.

Chanin Scott commits to Georgia Tech

Last week, 2016 signee Chanin Scott became the latest recruit to decommit from the UK Hoops program, although the staff was hanging on to hope they could convince her to stay on board. Not so, it seems. Yesterday, Scott committed to Georgia Tech and a UK spokesman confirmed to Jen Smith that she has been released from her letter of intent. Matthew Mitchell’s group got a bit of good news at the end of the week with 2016 guard Jaida Roper’s commitment, so here’s hoping some more comes their way this week.

Enes Kanter had a double double in OKC’s big win over Golden State

The Oklahoma City Thunder looked absolutely dominant in a 133-105 win over Golden State last night, which moves them to 2-1 in the series. Fresh off his birthday, Enes Kanter had a double double, with 10 points, 12 rebounds, and one assist.

Tonight, Patrick Patterson and the Raptors will host LeBron James and the Cavaliers, who lead the Eastern Conference Finals 2-1. You can see that on ESPN at 8:30 p.m.

Game of Thrones continues to bring it

Last night’s episode wasn’t quite as epic as last week’s, but still really good. I’m looking forward to hearing Nick Roush and TJ Walker’s spin on it on their Kentucky Thrones Radio podcast this afternoon. #HoldTheDoor 🙁

Chewbacca Mom had the best weekend ever

After breaking the internet on Friday, “Chewbacca Mom” Candace Payne is a bonafide internet star. The video she took of herself laughing in a Chewbacca mask in a Kohl’s parking lot now has over 135 million views on Facebook alone, and the mask is sold out not just at Kohl’s, but most other retailers (you can get one on Amazon for $209). To say thanks, Kohl’s showed up at Candace’s doorstep with several other masks to make sure she doesn’t have to share hers with her kids:

Awesome.

KSR in an hour.