As expected, UK has just announced that James Young will forgo his sophomore season and →
Read all the Intern’s offbeats Insights and Observations
Cuonzo Martin’s abrupt rocky-top exodus on the heels of the Sweet 16 is a tough blow for Tennessee Athletics. It’s bad from a personnel standpoint, obviously, and yet another spill in the PR aisle for the already unsanitary Volunteer Athletic Department as well as the Paid Athletic Department.
While the University of Tennessee is unquestionably a Women’s Basketball School, it does boast a large, fervent fan base and an athletic department with deep pockets. There was once a decent football team here they say, way back before such esteemed gridiron names as Kiffin and Dooley…’s idiot children were paid millions to roam the sideline.
Heck, even the men’s basketball team had a few good runs. There was the Bert & Ernie Show, and Jerry Green cobbled together a couple decent squads thanks to strong chemistry formed by players who never ran out of eligibility. And of course Bruce Pearl rallied the Vols all the way to the midseason AP Poll summit and an Elite 8 before his run in Knoxville went up in weed and barbecue smoke.
The gorgeous Thompson-Bowling Arena, on the pristine waters of the Stinkin Creek, is home to the Lady Vols and on super special occasions, the men are allowed to play here too they just have to clean up afterward.
Women’s Basketball is the pillar of UT Athletics, and there’s certainly no shame in that game. The Lady Vols are one of the greatest traditions in women’s hoops and the way things are trending, they’ll probably still be a top 10-ish program in that sport for the foreseeable future. How many schools can lay claim to a top 10-ish women’s sports team anchoring its athletic program?
Still, don’t be surprised if UT swings for a walk-off hire to replace Martin. After striking out on its last two football hires in an attempt to replace the Hall of Fame coach it fired, they swung hard and landed Butch Jones. As the great Harmon Killebrew might have said, “Sometimes you swing for the fence and you fly out to shallow center, but you sleep easy knowing you took an honest hack.”
Going to the Elite 8 in the Women’s NCAA Tournament year in and year out is what makes the University of Tennessee a special place. It also has a top-notch marching band. And, Knoxville has a Cheesecake Factory. Strong campus attributes, no doubt, but you have to wonder: just what exactly is the cost of living in the Lady Vols’ shadow?
You love Keeneland. Yeah, you, look at me when I’m addressing you, please. You love Keeneland because it epitomizes all that is unique and awesome about Central Kentucky. You love Keeneland because it’s a seasonal buffet of your favorite vices all rolled into one stately manor; you don’t feel like you’re actually drunk betting away your savings, you’re just skimming off the top of your substantial inheritance and supporting the Commonwealth’s flagship industries. It’s practically a write-off and it’s classy as hell.
“This must be heaven,” you say as you walk in. “But why is it so crowded?”
Because there’s a quota, but that’s a different post, different day.
“There’s only one thing missing,” you bemoan. “The Cayuts.”
Aside from College Day and Bring Recruits to the Track Day, Keeneland and UK lead separate lives. But what would happen if these two unstoppable super powers…collided?
Entered for tomorrow’s Blue Grass Stakes (GI)—the jewel of the Spring Meet and a key Derby prep—is a 3-year-old colt they call Casiguapo, bred by the University of Kentucky.
Cats. Cats. Cats. BBN. FOR THREEEE. Succed n’ Proceed. Brow Down. The Unrateables. Dribble Drive. You people are cray. UK2K. Keep Calm the Twins Are Coming and/or Going. Friend of Co’. Long Time Listener, First Time Caller.
That’s right, UK is in the bloodstock game now, and if you think the UofL and Tennessee rivalries are intense, wait til you see UK square off with the likes of Claiborne and Coolmore.
While UK cannot own and operate a racing stable, it can breed them (and cash the incentive checks). Casiguapo, who was purchased as a yearling by racing syndicate All American Horses for a mere $4,700, has already earned over $287k. Tasty.
Look, this is a neat story and it’s great the state’s flagship university is more involved in a flagship industry, but Casiguapo is up against it in tomorrow’s stakes. He’s 30-1 currently and will likely slide down as BBN Gets In and bets with their Big Blue Hearts. It’s certainly not an impossible task, as this race has seen its fair share of upset winners in recent years, and he has showed up on the board in a couple of big time races already. And I think all of us here in the BBN are quite familiar with underdogs making big runs…right?
[studio audience roars; applause]
It goes without saying but how cool would it be to see a UK bred horse in the starting gate at the Kentucky Derby?
Casiguapo Hopes to Score for Big Blue Nation in Blue Grass [KentuckyDerby.com]
KSR…Daddy Doug knockin’ again.
Long time no chill. That’s my fault, been pretty busy onmygrind# tryin to getthatpaper#.
I guess you could say my hianus from the blog here is due in large part to one bitch of a semester. It all started back at the beginning of February, back when it was like -40 degrees and I go outside to start the van and she’s having none of it. Get it towed to my buddy Squirrel’s shop and he delivers the news: blown camshaft. After we got done laughing it quickly set in that this would put me back a good bit. Now, Daddy Doug is doing just fine, I got what I need and get to where I’m goin and usually have enough to send down to the kids in Florida each month. But this was an unexpected blow and I knew I’d have to pick up some extra cash from somewhere so I answered an ad in the Kernel (that’s the student paper here on campus) looking for a few students to participate in some clinical trials. Now, I’ve done a lot of “clinical trials” on my own time over the years so the opportunity to earn up to $600 extra bucks a month for about 30 hours was a horse that this cowboy could ride.
Well I go in for an interview and I’m already nervous because I want to look the part without trying to look the part if that makes sense. Anyway, I answer some questions and talk to a few white coats and charm the pants off the whole room and they tell me to come in the next Monday morning and block off the rest of the day. Easy. Done.
Auburn’s sensational collapse in Gainesville last night was as mystifying as it was predictable. Truly bad teams can find a way to lose an intrasquad scrimmage, let alone in that bee-hive against the nation’s top team. So even though we all saw it coming I don’t think anyone was prepared for the two brand new, never-before-seen methods to meltdown that Auburn unveiled to the world.
First, the intentional foul with under 20 seconds left in a tie game. About as bone-headed and unaware as it gets, but considering Florida was more than likely going to go down and either hit a shot or get fouled as time expired (or win by 15 in OT), you could almost shrug it off as a certain brand of savvy…Auburn was 10-19 from 3 to that point, and if you watch even a lick of college basketball these days then you know no matter the score, the team with the last shot will always jack a desperation three. It’s Basketball Science. (Chapel-Hill’s renowned Smith School of Basketball Science is currently accepting applications, if you’re interested in learning more).
So you’re down two with plenty of time to dribble around aimlessly and jack up an off-balanced heave. Out of timeouts of course, but that certainly doesn’t matter when your coach is on the bench looking all bewildered like he just got dumped by Topanga. Just throw the ball in to one of the guar—wait, there are no guards–and that’s the genius of it. It’s innovation, baby. Backs against the wall, against all odds, and pulling a loss out of your ass just in the nick of time. All too familiar, no?
Sorry. Unnecessary, I know, but don’t act like you weren’t thinking the same thing, my BBN neighbor.
It’s an apt comparison but does offer hope. Remember this?
Consider this case, closed.
The reality of a given situation does not always present itself immediately. Our sundry of senses do not automatically keep up with one another, and some of us simply lack any notion of sense altogether. Take a dead body, for instance. Sure, you can look at it and instantly process the grimness at hand, but it may not fully register until you feel the cold, stiff, lifeless figure. If not, the waft of decomposition will surely drive the point home.
Which brings us to SEC basketball, which for years has been rotting in a shallow grave but this season’s exhumation has produced particularly grotesque conclusions. Here, we have 14 large, cash-heavy universities, each with its own gymnasium complete with seats, a roof, a wooden floor, goals, uniforms both home and away…everything a basketball team would need to play basketball. They even have rosters of Division I scholarship athletes, some of which are good enough to play professionally! And yet, reality: 12 of these teams are not good enough to compete in the NCAA Tournament.
It’s not unusual for the SEC to be laden with bad basketball, hell, it’s almost like a celebrated nick-nack. Football is the religion here, basketball merely an offseason syndicate. Half empty arenas have become part of the charm but belies the fact that historically, the league is right there with the other big dogs in final fours, national champs and NBA talent.
Top heavy? Sure. We know Kentucky and Florida are always competitive while Georgia is always bad, Auburn worse, not to mention South Carolina and I guess Texas A&M. But now that the middling mainstays like Vandy, Tennessee, Arkansas, Miss. St., Alabama, even Missouri have all plunged to the depths of desolation, it’s fair to question if this thing can ever be revived.
“It’s a down year,” they say…and have said every year for the past decade. Looking ahead, is there any reason to think the level of play will improve next season? You think Anthony Grant is finally going to get over the hump and start reeling off wins with his patented ‘hoisted three at the end of the shot-clock offense’? Or Frank Haith is suddenly going to wake up with a clue? Or that Mike Anderson will actually recruit basketball players? You think Georgia is going to make a slam dunk hire, or even care to? Of course not, and that’s why the SEC will continue to be a bottom level mid-major league sans the crammed student sections and basketball skill. A sloppy rec-league with its own network and Joe Dean, Jr. on the mic. A bunch of flight attendants on Jimmy’s Jet.
Let’s do some inventory. Currently, there are two good teams in the league with two great/proven coaches: Donovan, Calipari.
After that, you have 3 pretty good coaches who have enjoyed some level of relative success: Andy Kennedy, Kevin Stallings, Frank Martin. (Stallings has proven capable of pulling in talent and winning regular season games. Martin won at K-State and willingly inherited a shit-show, but is also a lunatic and will never win anything of significance in Columbia. Kennedy has done admirable work at a dead end gig.)
The rest are either unproven or proven to be awful, and you’d have to expect several will get canned. Barbee for sure, Mark Fox likely, Grant and Cuanzo should but it’s probably 50/50, Haith and Anderson are both awful but somehow safe and whoever coaches Miss St, LSU and A&M, well I guess “they just need time to implement whatever it is they implement.”
Name the last time an SEC team not named UK or Florida won a game of significance?
The SEC needs action. It needs excitement. It needs bastards. It needs bombast. It needs Bruce Pearl.
[vomits blood into a Tervis]
How do you get people to look at you when you are a nobody? You yell really loudly and/or you con them. That’s what Pearl does better than anyone else in coaching, and that’s what this league needs. Just someone else to awaken a listless fanbase and make people care for a few months. Pearl should absolutely be at the top of the list for every SEC school making a hire.
Can this rotting corpse of a league be saved? I honestly don’t know. I hope so, and so should you, fellow Catfan. Not just for entertainment’s sake but for the opportunity to beat a quality opponent. Remember those from back in the day?
SEC fans—outside of Kentucky and Arkansas—have never cared about basketball but it hasn’t stopped Tennessee, Alabama, LSU and Florida from periods of success. A bombastic salesman who can nurture talent like Pearl will pay off for one school but that leaves about a dozen others still searching for an answer. Or, pretending to, anyway.
S-E-C! S-E-C! S-E-C!
And now, a word from the ‘basketball guru’ that sits a couple rows behind you in Rupp…
NBA? Shoot, they need to be worried bout UGA.
They call em free throws for a reason, guys–they’re FREE! You put me out on that floor right now and I’ll make 9 outta 10. Bet.
Press! PREEESSS! PRESS EM CAL! FULLCOURT PRESS!
Shoot the dang ball! Can’t nobody shoot the dang ball anymore. Put me out there on that court right now, I’m not sayin I’ll get to the rim every time but I’ll make an open jumper, believe you me.
This team takes the FUN and MENTAL right outta FUNDAMENTAL. All you’re left with is a bunch of DA. That’ll getcha beat.
No I won’t sit down grandma, how bout you stand up?! This is a ballga—oh, sorry, didn’t see the wheelchair…that thing got a lift on it?
LICK MY ICE CREAM CONE, VALENTINE!
Man I still can’t believe Eddie Montgomery closed his steak shop. Best sirloin in Kentucky, with all the ambiance to boot.
Wonder which rapper’s gonna be the Y tonight? DJ JOE B, hahaha…yeah saw that one on the facebook.
Boom. What I’d tell ya? Told ya that play would work. Been sayin it all night.
Getcher head outcher ass, TV TEDDY!
One and done? More like One and DON’T!
See, back when I was coachin we’d always curl our best shooters off the elbows. No coincidence that we won so many church league titles. Welcome to Basketball 101.
Right there, yup. Told ya that’d be there. Been sayin at all night.
Here’s the thing about neoliberalism in the context of institutional economic complexities…THRREEEEEEEEEE
I get lots of compliments on my UK shirt. It’s a real ice-breaker. A bona fide tone-setter. People always ask if they can buy it from me, and some even try to steal it right off my back. One guy even offered up his wife for just one night with my shirt. I’m spoken for, guy, and so is my UK shirt.
My UK shirt brings out my eyes. It also accentuates my awesome. Cute polo, fella. You a Cats fan? Oh, didn’t notice the wee little logo up in the corner there. That thing moisture wicked?
Tell me folks, on what other article of clothing can you find both Commonwealth and Cliff Hagan Stadiums, and Rupp Arena, and Alumni Hall and the Funkhouser Building? When I walk into the game, I get a standing ovation. I get the fireworks.
My UK shirt guides me. Literally. It’s a map.
I go hard at the gym in my UK shirt. As the heat turns up, the buttons come down.
I wear my UK shirt in the club. Girls go ham.
I wear my UK shirt in the grocery. Get free ham.
I wear my heart on one sleeve of my UK shirt, and wipe my nose on the other.
I day-trade in my UK shirt and make bazillions.
I’m on the phone with Asia, making deals in my UK shirt.
Ladies love my UK shirt. Moms trust my UK shirt. Dads pat me on the back and say, “hot damn, now that’s a UK shirt.”
I don’t smoke but I keep a soft pack in the front pocket because that’s just what you do with pockets on UK shirts. Anyone got a light? Actually, I do, right here in my UK shirt.
There are pennants all over my UK shirt because really, who doesn’t love pennants?
My UK shirt has taken me places I never thought I’d go: Bowl games, Final Fours, breakfast at Wheeler’s, Davenport, IA once for work, Turks and Caicos. Where has your “Dunk Dynasty” t-shirt ever taken you?
We’re taught in school that too much of a good thing is bad, and living in excess is somehow wrong. They say you can’t go through life cloaked in UK wallpaper because no one will take you seriously. But there’s no room for naysayers on my UK shirt. There’s actually no room for anything else, at all.
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,
In a state steeped in historic duels and family feuds Kentuckians are naturally predisposed for domestic disorder. The modern day affirmation of our civil aversion is of course disguised as a basketball game—the Battle of Bluegrass. It’s a game that has a way of turning sound, rational people into rabid animals; of turning boys into heroes. Or kings.
A hero was made in December 2004, when a kid from Central City with the church league physique and dipper’s grin stepped to the line for three free-throws with the battle still knotted and the time all but out.
A hero was born in March of 1983, the same year the Battle of the Bluegrass officially commenced. You might call it a coincidence and you’d be wrong. You could call it destiny, which would be correct, so let’s call it destiny, ok? Who could have imagined this six-foot nothin’ gunner from the Western Kentucky Coalfield would one day toe the line of immortality in Freedom Hall with the fate of a nation in his hands?
At times Patrick Sparks was simply a capable ball handler, reliable free throw shooter, defensive liability (especially in his Bud Heavy Senior season) with a five inch vertical and a streaky three point stroke. A career 10 point, 4 assist, 1 steal per game kind of guy. Then he’d heat up, dish out a few no look dimes, and carve up a defense with craftsman-like guile and flair and instantly became must-watch TV. You knew Sparksy was feelin’ it when he wouldn’t even follow through on his shots. Just sorta flick that thing up there and start running back down the court. He was Marshall Henderson without the histrionics and rap sheet.
Through the centuries thousands of young men have been selected to wear the Kentucky jersey. The majority put in their sweat and hung their jerseys up when the eligibility ran out, carrying on with their lives but still holding the ultimate Kentucky trump card in their pockets. Few more would actually carve out decorated basketball careers, stitch their names in the lore, maybe even go on to play professionally. Then there are the few that leave as heroes, destined for the life of a Statesman. Only one would call Billy Packer a mother f-er to his face on live TV. Patrick Sparks is all of them.
Each December the Lifetime Network saturates the airwaves in a sugary B-list martini when it rolls out its undeniably endless catalog of Yuletide Cinema. Familiar achievements like: The Christmas Consultant, Under the Mistletoe, Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus, 12 Men of Christmas, A Christmas Wedding, My Menstrual Christmas, Guess Who’s Coming for Christmas? Aunt Flow—look, Lifetime has a movie for every holiday occasion, cranking these suckers out in bulk with assembly line efficiency to meet the insatiable appetites of deprived consumers.
I know what you’re thinking–man, those Lifetime movie creators have ALL the fun. And that is correct. But the good news is you too can be a Lifetime movie creator. You too, can get in on said fun.
Let’s make us a cable-ready Christmas movie, shall we? Here are your basic factory-installed options behind every Lifetime movie (these are interchangeable parts of course, with the plot and theme in this case tailored to the Christmas season). Once you’ve established the floor plan, the rest is merely cut n’ paste. Simply pick a number from each section, combine and stir, and Voila! Your very own Lifetime Christmas movie screenplay.
The Leading Lady:
1. Jennie Garth
2. Tori Spelling
3. Melissa Joan Hart
4. Candace Cameron
5. Delta Burke
1. an Advertising/PR Executive
2. a Reporter
3. a Small business owner
4. Terminally ill
5. Pregnant (with puppies)
1. Single (hopelessly)
2. Engaged (erroneously)
3. Divorced (bitterly)
4. Widowed (tragically)
5. Married (reluctantly)
1. Going back home to the boondocks for the holidays…gets stranded somehow. Re-kindles romance with an old flame who, let’s be honest, was the right guy all along.
2. Tries to make good on her child’s single Christmas wish for “a new daddy.” Artfully sluts it up a bit.
3. A note from a “Secret Santa” sends her on a wild goose chase to find the author…and love.
4. Gives birth to a litter of puppies but can only keep one.
5. Has Santa’s baby, names it Ethan Claus.
1. Christmas is magic, love is real.
2. Believe and you shall achieve.
3. You’re never too busy to go home on Christmas, unless you live in Manhattan.
4. Be happy with what you have, even if all you have is mounting debt and lupus.
5. Sometimes all the answers we seek are right in front of us…all we have to do is look.
With the plot in the bag we can now focus on the ever important title. Just pick one word from each line:
1. Special, Merry, Joyful, Happy
2. Bride, Husband, Santa, Angel, Wedding
3. Christmas, Holidays, Hanukkah
4. Love, Dixie, Town, Home, the City
That’s it. Congratulations, you have a live screenplay on your hands. You are now a Writer. You are going to be rich. As for me, I’m already hard at work on my new project:
A Merry Bride of Christmas in Dixie
A local news reporter (Tori Spelling) juggles work and a deadbeat fiance as she tries to make good on her daughter’s single Christmas wish for “a new daddy” by artfully slutting it up a bit. Will she ever get married? Her check engine light is on, will she ever take note? Will she ever…believe?
The shrinking student attendance issue has been a hot item around here in recent weeks and everybody’s weighing in—from the media, to the fans and of course the students themselves. But one particular demographic has been largely quiet, until now. I’m talking of course about the non-traditional student, or in this particular instance, the creepy old guy in one of your classes, Doug.
Sup KSR? This is Doug, fellow WildCard holder, separated father of two, blossoming philosopher/entrepreneur and all around easy goin’ dude. (I own a power washing service part-time so look me up on Bing if you got any stains—Doug’s Power Washing: “you buy the chemicals I bring the hose, or vice versa.” I also do internet digital marketing and plan to start my own digital enterprise soon as I get my MBA, just gotta get this bachelor’s out of the way first.) I was the original one-and-done. As in one semester—back in ’88 when livin’ was good and habits were bad. Let’s just say I got asked take a break from school for a while, get my mind right. Well life was cruisin’ along when I hit a little rough patch a couple years ago. Obama took my job away, the bank took my house and the wife took off with the kids to her sister’s place in Daytona for a while.
All that to say I’m back on campus crankin’ out my undergrad, workin’ hard playin’ hard, because it’s never too late to hit the reset button. Now, I’ve got freedom. I’ve got a soul patch in bloom. I’ve got a Plus Account. I’ve got the old van and an empty apartment to host study groups and parties and stuff. I just want to fit in and not be weird old guy that everyone thinks is a narc.
Anywho, this whole student attendance thing is a hot button around the quad these days so pardon me while I blow on it first…alright. So you got all these young perennials runnin’ around in yogi pants with their faces buried in their gadgets without a clue how easy they got it. Just look at some of the excuses being tossed around:
Hi-Def TV. Hey y’all, hop in my minivan and let’s take a ride while I tell you a little something about hi-definition. It’s called real life, right here in these eyes the Lord gave us and it looks better than anything you’ll see on your tablets. If we wanted to watch the Cats in hi-def back in ’88, hell we’d crank up some Mellencamp and burn a doob before going in.
No booze at the games. Kids, it’s called a flask. And I’ve always got some extra, just hop in the van.
Ticket lotto. Now Big Doug knows a thing or two about the lotto and here’s the bottom line: somebody’s gotta win, may as well be you. Back in ’88 we’d have to get in line at the ticket office first thing Monday morning. Tickets didn’t go on sale ’til Friday. Oh, what’s that? The seats aren’t primo? Well isn’t that just a tragedy, you poor poor victims of circumstance. Back in ’88 I had to watch the Indiana-Kentucky game in row UU with my boy Beans sitting on my shoulders. Now Beans was a big boy, gassy as all get-out and we got blown the hell out, but we were there, man. We were there.
The team’s not good enough. Hey y’all, this is Kentucky. You keep waiting for that good football team train to pull into the station…I’ll be in Commonwealth watchin’ college football with my hot dates, gettin’ frisky feelin’ tipsy and singin’ Mony Mony like there’s no tomorrow.
I hate to throw my classmates under the bus. You old hats, you have no idea what us college students nowadays are facin’. What with the excessive tuition hikes and mounting student debt, diminishing career opportunities, vegan diets and peanut allergies. It’s a bitch, man. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of Big Blue die-hards runnin’ around campus but the game’s done changed. We used to look at crammin’ into the nosebleeds at Rupp Arena as a privilege, not a hassle. Saturdays in the Fall were once a chance for students to escape the couch, maybe even burn it, not an invitation to stay in and sit on it snappin’ pictures of yourself.
My fellow students, as a grown ass man that’s seen some things, take this piece of advice from Uncle Doug: do everything. This is your chance. You’re in college and you’re expected to get out of line from time to time. You’re supposed to get out and try things, go places and do just about everything but sit around drinking and watching the TV. Trust me, you’ll have every day of the rest of your life for that.
With Big Blue Regards,
Seven years ago today the KSR crew embarked on its maiden road trip to Marshall County’s Hoopfest. The events that transpired are now etched in KSR lore, though remain largely unknown among today’s audience. Until now. Take the ride with the crew here in Part I and look for part II sometime tomorrow or next week or never.
It sounded good in theory: some dudes from an emerging weblog/podcast promising UK sports and recruiting news in the most ridiculous manner known to man taking their act down to Marshall County’s renowned HoopFest. It was to be a cultural and spiritual immersion in the high octane environs of prep hoops; an opportunity to establish the orange circle with headphones brand among the national elite with hard hitting reporting and unique commentary.
Once there, we would abuse our media credentials, gaining access to the country’s top coaches and prospects while getting fat off comped bologna sandwiches and Check Cola. Today Marshall County, tomorrow Letterman, so the script read.
But even the soundest of theories cannot account for the whim of unpredictability. The milkman, the paperboy, the evening TV.
December, 2006. Justin Timberlake was in the process of bringing sexy back, even though Oh Napier had already done so a few months earlier with the hit, “Tubby Cain’t Coach.” Borat was on the big screen carving permanent emotional scars on people who watched the movie with their parents over the holiday. Kentucky football was going Music City Bowling. A gallon of gas set you back a nickel. A shave and a hair cut was still two bits. The US staked its fortunes in foolproof mortgage-based securities, and a website called Kentucky Sports Radio was wrapping up its first full year in operation. The Salad Days, to be sure.
Matt Jones sat in a chair in the corner of an old warehouse turned recording studio beneath the neon glow of downtown Shelbyville. Cloaked in a West Virginia hoodie and slicker pants that neither matched nor jibed, he was exhausted. The toll of the day’s podcast left him tired and he wore a look of mischief then spoke of the same when he asked the crew to join him on a roadtrip to Benton.
See, before the days of jetting off to the Final Four, The Masters and playing patty cake with Roger Federer, KSR had to swindle and shake its way through even the smallest of doors. But the Hoopfest really did seem like a great idea. After all, it was our best chance to watch and interview UK-commit A.J. Stewart, and well, at that point in time that was worth celebrating. Plus Derrick Rose would be there along with Oak Hill’s Brandon Jennings and Nolan Smith, and who knows how many top-level D1 coaches just waiting in line to talk into the KSR microphone that was rescued from a trash can at the WLAP studios. And it was all happening right here in Kentucky!
The crew assembled, westward ho. Matt Jones. Tomlin. Turkey Hunter. John Dubya. Hubby. If Gen. Patton himself had lined us up for close inspection I think he would have come away unutterably pleased. Five 20 somethings driving 3.5 hours to spend a weekend evaluating and chit-chatting high school boys. We were unstoppable.
The purpose of the trip was to find A.J. Stewart. What we found however, was a little piece of ourselves. Battles were fought, hard lessons learned:
Not all high school basketball games are created equal, or even remotely entertaining. Not all bologna sandwiches, are free. And two Leeks don’t always make a right.
Don’t miss TV’s newest hit reality show coming to Bravo on Wednesday Nights:
PITINO & CHAIN
Series synopsis: A wealthy narcissistic coaching icon (Pitino) recruits, and eventually adopts, a lovable but troubled basketball star (Chain). They have nothing in common…except the house they share! WILL these two ever get along? And WHAT will they do next?
Here’s a taste of what to expect from ol’ Pitino and that rascally Chain in Season One.
Clip #1, from Ep 1: “Pilot”
[Pitino arrives home and pulls into his garage. It’s late, around 9pm, and he’s exhausted from a 14 hour day at the office. Loosening his tie he walks in the door.]
PITINO: Chain? I’m home. Did you see the money I left on the counter for pizza? Chain? Chaaaaiiinnnn? You better not have gone to that high school dance, you know that’s against the rules.
[Pitino walks upstairs and knocks on Chain's door. With no response, he opens the door and is instantaneously hit by a falling bucket of water, leaving him drenched from head to toe.]
CHAIN: Ahhhh hahahahahaha, ohhh no, hahahahaha.
P: CHAAAIIIN! This is a $12,000 suit! Bona fide alpaca wool for crissakes!
C: Sorry Coach, it’s just too easy. Your face though, hahahahahaha!
P: Yeah, well you know what else is easy? Suspension. As in you…are uh…suspended…until further notice, end of discussion, good night.
C: Aww come on Coach, I–
P: GOOD NIGHT.
[The next morning, Pitino is up early, startled by a strange noise coming from downstairs.]
P: What the–is that a goat?
[He rushes downstairs and finds Chain in the living room holding an alpaca by the halter.]
C: Surprise! I felt bad for ruining your suit Coach, so I got this alpaca for you to make a new one.
P: Chain–what were you…how did you…where in the hell did you get–you know what, nevermind, I don’t want to know.
C: So you love it? He’s got a good coat, coach. Real nice. Named him Lonny but obviously you can call him whatever you want.
P: [buries his face in his hands and sighs] Yeah Chain, he’s real nice. That was very thoughtful of you, thanks. NOW WILL YOU GET HIM OUT OF THE HOUSE? That Persian rug he just crapped on, that was Dean Martin’s rug. It’s worth more than your projected first year contract!
C: My bad coach. So, does this mean I’m not suspended anymore?
P: Yes, BUT, I’m watching you. No more crap, got it?
C: Aw yeah Coach, don’t worry, lesson learned.
[Fast forward to the following morning when again, Pitino is awakened by commotion from downstairs. He's greeted in the living room by Chain and a strange Persian looking man.]
C: Felt bad bout the rug coach, so I got you the best Persian dude I could find.
P: Shake my head, Chain, shake my damn head.
[End Clip #1]
Clip #2, from Ep 4: “Papa’s in the House”
Aside from being universally loathed, unabashedly biased and comically out of touch, Bob Knight is a good color analyst and an all around sagging sack of joy. So it came as no surprise when the network that willingly writes large checks to Skip Bayless and Dan Dakich revealed earlier this week that Knight will be back baby, for Thursday night SEC action.
Knight has been with the network since 2008, when he stepped away from the self-inflicted ruins of what was once a legendary head coaching career spanning 43 years. It was reported back in February that ESPN would not renew his contract when it expired at season’s end, probably due to the fact his approval rating was in the red coupled with the daily hell he likely inflicted upon colleagues and bystanders.
It made sense to everyone. Out to pasture, I think it’s safe to say.
So why, ESPN, do you choose to purposefully alienate your audience? Why put us through this auditory waterboarding? It’s hard enough watching Auburn and South Carolina do…whatever it is they do on the basketball court, but now you douse us in flammable grouch and light the match?
Oh, he traveled. Got away with a travel. See how he palms that basketball? They should call that every time.
Some of you will ask, “so what?” Others will say, “turn the sound off or just don’t watch,” or, “your the worst on this site this was an epic fail and your just dumb.” But just think of the number of competent analysts currently living on this planet. There’s gotta be, I don’t know, at least 100k. Or, think about people that are not professional commentators but are simply insightful, maybe even objective humans more adept to handle this job. There’s gotta be like, 6, 7 billion. Really, dead air is better than Bob Knight. Your annoying little yap dog that won’t shut the hell up and eats inedible objects including its own poop, is better than Bob Knight on TV. It’s actually not even close. Meanwhile, the otherwise superb Reece Davis is relegated to the role of VA clinic caretaker.
Bob Knight is the absolute worst as an analyst which comes as no surprise, as he is the absolute worst as a human. Which is what makes this all the more puzzling, considering how often the network is perched on its sanctimonious high-horse and force feeding viewers blanket denouncements of the latest unflattering episode from The Week in Sports. You know, like its been doing this very week with collective condemnation of the alleged bully culture in the Dolphins locker room. Hmm. A touch hypocritical maybe, considering there is, once again, a bona fide bully on payroll.
That’s not this man’s opinion, rather, the opinion of the very university whose basketball program he built all the way to the top. Verbally abusive to the media and faculty; verbally AND physically abusive to players and students, and Joe B. Hall. The General? Nah, The Bully. On ESPN’s payroll. But please, don’t let this get in the way of Herm Edwards’s poetic waxing of the Dolphins and if Payton Manning would be a better three point shooter than Kevin Durant would be a pocket passer.
What this team needs to do is stop trying to score. Crisp chest passes. Move without the ball. See, that’s a terrible sho…well, that one went in but bad bad shot.
This is not jaded Joe Wildcat talking. For one, put me squarely in the camp that doesn’t think the media holds secret underground conferences to formulate a plan to alienate UK and its fans, and wouldn’t care anyway. I understand Knight hates Kentucky, despises Calipari, and that’s just dandy. Best case scenario, actually. The only things Bob Knight does not hate are good entry passes, crisp flex cuts, and Ulysses S. Grant.
I’m speaking on behalf of human beings that like to watch college basketball without the added element of a confused, disgraced, cantankerous bully with an agenda. For the world’s largest sports network, now holding the SEC hostage, that was simply asking too much.
Make no mistake: tonight’s “exhibition” will shape the city of Lexington for years, possibly generations to come. The Wildcats of Kentucky and the Pioneers of Transylvania. Two teams, one city. Who will wear the crown to this kingdom some call Lex Vegas (vomits in trash can)?
In this corner, the University of Kentucky. Dr. Flagship. State U.
In that corner, ‘cross the woods, Transylvania. The Little Old Man. Statesman U.
Separated by the slightest buffer of city blocks, fundamental ideologies and like, two dozen stop lights. The North (Broadway) vs. the South (Limestone). The Battle on Broadway, it’s been dubbed, but we’re not here to sell posters and lollipops.
The tension in this town is ripe, ready to be picked from the tree and baked into a holiday cobbler. Lexington is a city divided; friendships on ice, families torn, the Atomic Cafe engulfed in flames. It’s as if the ghost of Henry Clay just drove a big ol’ wedge right down in the heart of town…then, realizing he didn’t quite know what to do next, planted some grass, put up a fence and built his own personal jungle jim.
It’s hard to pinpoint the origin of this great Lexington rift. Some historians date it back to the Streetfight of 1902, when a particularly prickly melee between rivaling fraternities erupted near the town branch brothel, leaving dozens with tattered hair and bloody noses. Other scholarly texts point to a more recent scuffle around closing time at Redmond’s. All can agree however, that it is here and it is real.
So we settle it the best way us Kentuckians know how: a duel, on the basketball court, now for the third consecutive year, the sixth such occurrence all time. Kentucky has owned this series of late but you can bet Calipari, the ol’ master motivator that he is, had the box score from the 1911 contest displayed prominently throughout the Craft Center this offseason.
There it is boys, let it soak.
Still want to call it just an exhibition? Oh, it’s an exhibition alright, and the featured demonstration will be hell.
The ball will be tipped, bounced around, swatted and tossed, and one team will put it in their opponent’s basket more times than the other. Sounds pretty simple when you break it down to the bones. Heck, almost sounds fun—like a game. But this ain’t a game and this ain’t about you, BCTC.
To the victor, everything. The loser, banishment to a satellite campus out past Hamburg where minivans go to breed and linger then disappear. After that, who knows?
Two nations, one city. Something’s gotta give.
You want it? Come and get it.
Each year in late October, college football is set ablaze by a war that’s waged on the Southeastern front as the nation turns its lonely eyes to Lexington, or Starkville, woo, woo, woo.
Fueled by vitriol and venom, the annual showdown between Kentucky and Mississippi State never wants for sex appeal, fireworks and carnage. These titans are not simply playing for a win, but often fundamental ideals like Liberty, Independence, and Music City. Just like the bald eagle, this rivalry is protected.
This rivalry is deadlocked, 20 wins apiece.
This rivalry…this rivalry…ohhhhh, this rivalry…
What is this rivalry? This thing doesn’t even have name, or a trophy, or a Hate Week. Do we even hate? Do we even know a Miss State fan? Maybe we should get out more often. Rural Mississippi has charm, and plenty of aquaculture for the whole fam.
If we’re going to keep doing this dance every single year then it’s high time this rivalry became A RIVALRY, by gum.
Let’s brand this bad boy, shall we?
Starting with a name. The SEC is full of em: Iron Bowl, Egg Bowl, Magnolia Bowl, Third Saturday in October, The World’s Largest Cocktail Party, Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry…
But this? We’re really just going to keep belittling this rivalry by calling it by its birth name?
Just a few ideas, trademarked of course, to get the convo started:
Battle of the Barns. Horses (us) and cows (them). E-I-E-I-O. Along these lines, could also consider: Steers vs. Steeds or the Shit Bowl (of the bull and horse varieties, respectively).
The Dog and Pony Show.
The Truth About Cats and Dogs. Shamelessly borrowed from one of the great cinematic achievements of the 1990′s.
The Battle of Who Could Care Less. Let’s face it, outside of the respective fanbases, this game hardly moves the needle. But even a self-defeating name is still a name, and thus, an improvement. A marketable improvement.
Now that we have the ball rollin, what on earth will they play for? A great brand needs some sort of tangible icon attached to it. Playing for pride is nothing more than Depression-Era propaganda and a win is great but doesn’t show well in a trophy case.
But you know what does? A RUSTY PITCHFORK, that’s what.
Now that it’s all coming together I feel like this rivalry is bound for a breakthrough. I feel proud. I feel hate. I feel a sudden urge to cow tip.
This is mutually beneficial and it needed to happen. One day, maybe 20, 30 years from now, bellied up at the ol’ waterin hole swappin’ stories, you’ll say, “You all remember the Dog and Pony Show of 2015? Man, we really got after em that day. Was about time we brought the rusty pitchfork back to our house.”
That’s what this great rivalry is all about. That’s livin, man.
In the middle of the 2010 season, I wrote this scathing review on the pitiful state of affairs within the confines of SEC basketball. It was harsh, sure, but also hopeful that the conference could get its collective act together for the sake of humanity because no way could it get any worse, right?
SEC basketball is still a garbage tsunami steamrolling its way to the season’s opening tip, and for a lot of folks with a Big Blue Nation mailing address, that’s perfectly fine. All these flightless birds around the league are seemingly easy prey for the preseason’s top ranked team and what’s wrong with gettin’ fat off wins?
I feel ya. I like to see Kentucky win too. I typically hoot/holler and throw things when they lose which complicates the relationship I have with my dogs, and possibly some humans (ohhhh welllll).
I also like to be entertained however, and sometimes that goes beyond a January Tuesday Night drubbing of whatever it is Auburn has patched together. The best entertainment evokes the gamut of emotions, from sheer hatred and anger, to anxiety, and of course immense pride and excitement.
I know most here in the Big Blue Nation wear their Big Blue Blinkers and see this ineptitude as an opportunity to devour the landscape AND GO 40-0! I’d love to see it happen, no doubt. But you know what else I’d like to see?
Bruce Pearl parading around the court in Knoxville like a glistening sideshow barker shouting instruction to a team of nothing but Bobby Maze and Ron Slays.
A team other than Florida join Kentucky in making a significant postseason splash every once in a while.
Marshall Henderson go 3 for 27 in Rupp, snort a line off the scorer’s table and talk trash to your grandparents in the third row.
Give me Nolan Richardson’s pretty face, Runnin’ Hogs and a hostile Bud Walton Arena. Sure, they got the upper hand a couple of times, but my lord that was fun.
Da Meat Hook, Big Baby, Chris Porter’s afro, Stansbury’s blue eyes crying in the rain, soft but skilled tall white guy at Vandy, a character, a villain, something, anything…
These days there are but a handful of SEC battles each season that truly impact the national landscape. The remaining majority are Jefferson-Pilot blooper reels in poorly lit gyms half-filled with friends and family and boozed up fraternity pledges just happy to steal a couple of hours away from captivity. Sure, maybe there’s a 10-seed on the line, or first round NIT bye, and sometimes—as if by accident—the games are even close…tied at 57, 10 seconds left, the coach calls time out to draw up the SEC’s hallmark play: point guard isolation which will result in one of three things: a turnover, a forced off-balance heave at/after the buzzer, or a terrible whistle.
It’s important to remember that outside of this Nation we call Big Blue, there are maybe 20-30 people who invest more than a passing “hmmph” in the outcome of an SEC basketball game. This is the conference that took college football mainstream after all, which pays everyone’s bills and takes them out to dinner from time to time to show that they’re still committed to this just don’t talk to me too much please.
We here at KSR all lust for the same outcome and in the grand scheme of the hangin’ banners game, conference RPI is indeed meaningless. But I for one remember the days when the SEC brought the occasional hype of a heavyweight bout that wasn’t exclusive to Rupp Arena. I remember when the SEC brought the (relative) funk. Here we are, SEC, entertain us.