What could have gone wrong did go wrong for Kentucky in Starkville. Saturday’s performance surprisingly →
By Drew Franklin on ©October 02nd, 2017 @ 11:00pm
Kevin Knox’s commitment to the University of Kentucky came as a surprise to everyone who followed his recruitment. John Calipari even admitted that Knox kept him in the dark more than any other recruit he’s ever landed.
As Knox tells it, he didn’t decide until two days before announcing his decision, moments after the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby, of all times.
He told KSR, “I sat down with my family. We met and decided Kentucky is the school I wanted to go to, and I think it was the best decision for my family and I, and we stuck with it those two days and decided on Derby Day actually.”
He admitted he didn’t know the first Saturday in May was such a big day to Kentuckians.
“I didn’t know actually,” he said, when asked if he was aware of the timing of his announcement. “I really didn’t know what it was. When I made my decision, a lot people commented, saying, ‘Oh it’s on Kentucky Derby day.’ So, that’s when I find out, but I had no idea I was committing on Kentucky Derby day.”
— Kev (@kevin_knox23) May 6, 2017
Life normally gets hectic for a five-star recruit like Knox, after pledging their commitment to a university. But not for Knox; he turned off his phone as his decision went public on social media, and handed his phone over to his father.
“I turned my phone off for 24 hours after I pressed send for all of the social media,” he said. “I turned my phone off and just chilled out with brothers, played NBA 2K. The next day I turned my phone on, I got a lot of hate, but that’s just the nature of the world. Everybody wanted me to go there, so there’s a lot of fans that disliked my decision and weren’t really happy about it, but it’s all good.”
Knox’s decision ultimately came down to a three-team race between Kentucky and the two Carolina powerhouse programs: North Carolina and Duke. Each had a lot to offer, but the coaching staff and the everyday competition in Lexington made the difference in the end.
“The way [the coaches] are going to push each player they’ve ever coached, push them to the max outside of their comfort zone; that’s something I really liked. Coming here, you’re playing again six or seven All-Americans everyday in practice, so you’re basically getting better everyday and you’re getting them better, and that’s something I really wanted, to be pushed outside. That’s one of the reasons I came here. I knew I was going to get better everyday.”
One of the reasons most people were predicting Knox would land at one of the other two schools, was the logjam at Knox’s position at Kentucky. John Calipari had already landed commitments from Hamidou Diallo, Jarred Vanderbilt, and P.J. Washington, plus the return of Wenyen Gabriel. However, that collection of talent on the wing and at forward did not discourage Knox from accepting Calipari’s challenge.
“A lot of people said, ‘Why would you go there if they’ve got Jarred, P.J., Wenyen and all those guys that kind of play similar to you?’ But that had nothing to do with my decision. I think we can all play together. Coach Cal said the same thing; we all said the same thing. We just gotta be able to play together as a team and believe in each other and do what we do best, and that’s play basketball.”
One aspect of Kentucky’s pitch during Knox’s official visit included a stop to see UK football recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow, which Knox did not expect. Turns out, Knox’s father, Kevin Knox Sr., knows Coach Marrow from their short time together with the Buffalo Bills in the early 90s. Knox Sr. wanted to pay a visit to his old friend while in Lexington.
“When Coach Cal and KP were talking to my dad, my dad said he needed one hour to go to the football facility to see a friend,” Knox explained. “I had no clue who he was talking about. I was like, ‘Why are we going to the football field? We’re on a basketball visit. What are we going over there for?’ He said, ‘We’ll see.’ So we walked over there and he introduced me to Coach Vince Marrow and some other coach he played with. But I just talked to them and they gave me their pitch. It was a great time talking to him; my dad is really good friends with him, so of course he’s friends with him, then I got to meet him.”
Marrow did not recruit Knox to play two sports at Kentucky, but he did tell him he’s welcome to stop by anytime. After all, Knox was being recruited as a quarterback, until he left football behind in his sophomore season of high school.
As for his father’s football career, Knox said he’s learned a lot from his old man and the lessons that have been passed down are helping him in his own journey.
“It’s crazy,” he said of the advantage of having a former professional athlete for father. “My dad is one of the hardest working guys in the country. He got a lot of awards in college for being one of the hardest working players on the team. He definitely knows how to get there. He won a national championship. He got drafted. So, he knows what it takes to get there so he’s been teaching me all his ways, all the logic to it. Growing up with him is great. He’s my role model. He teaches me everything.”
Maybe Kevin Jr. will become the second member of the Knox family to win a national championship and get drafted.
Check out our other preseason interviews:
By Jack Pilgrim on ©October 02nd, 2017 @ 10:45pm
Back in January, Hamidou Diallo committed to the Kentucky Wildcats and decided to enroll immediately. At the time, he told reporters he would likely sit out the 2016-17 season to work on his game for the following year.
Fans, however, held out hope for the top-ten recruit to come in midseason and give the team a spark off the bench.
There he sat, watching his teammates from the sideline week after week. Diallo admits it was extremely hard to do, especially when the Wildcats were losing.
“That was the toughest thing I had to do all season,” he said. “Sitting on the bench, seeing them lose, knowing you can help, and having guys come up to you saying “You should play man, we could really use you,” and things like that. It was tough.”
Still, though, Diallo kept his word and sat out the entire year. With little shock, the Kentucky freshman entered his name in the draft to work out with teams and
To no one’s surprise, the Kentucky freshman entered his name in the draft to work out with teams and gauge future interest, along with learning what he needed to work on to prepare for next season.
At the NBA Combine, Diallo posted a 44.5″ vertical, the second highest in history. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that several teams in the 20-range of the draft were serious about taking a shot on him based on measurables and athleticism alone.
“A couple teams showed high interest in me, it was a back and forth thing,” Diallo said.
Becoming Calipari’s first “none and done” was a legitimate option.
On May 24, Diallo faced a decision to enter the NBA Draft on potential alone or return to school. Right before midnight, news leaked out that the freshman Wildcat would be returning for his redshirt sophomore season at Kentucky. At 12:05 a.m., he confirmed the news:
Let’s Chase Championship #9 BBN!! pic.twitter.com/9Zyd9cPUom
— Hamidou diallo (@Diallo1Hamidou) May 25, 2017
As much as fans believed he was sitting on Twitter, laughing at the BBN’s meltdown waiting for the announcement, Diallo says it really was a last-second decision.
“The decision really did take long,” he said. “It wasn’t like I was just waiting to wait. I made the decision at like 11:45 (p.m.) and I had to fill out paperwork, so I couldn’t go on social media.”
Though he returned to school, Diallo believes he learned a lot from his NBA Draft-prep experience.
“Coming back was the best decision for me and my family, so that’s what I stuck with,” he said. “I learned a lot of things about the process itself and what I have to do to prepare for the next level. I feel like it was a great process and I’m happy I did it.”
No more over-analyzing Diallo’s warmups or wondering if he was the missing piece for a title run.
Hamidou Diallo is back, and he’s excited to get to work.
“I’m definitely excited. Just to be able to get out there and actually perform, show Kentucky (fans) what kind of player I am and what kind of person I am. I’m more excited just to compete against these guys and go against some other competition,” Diallo said.
But what will Kentucky be getting from Diallo, the “veteran” redshirt freshman?
“Just a complete competitor and a leader,”Just always trying to do the little things to make sure my team gets the (win.)”
Diallo feels he has a significant advantage over some of his Wildcat teammates by getting on campus an entire semester before everyone else.
“Getting to work on my game and my skillset, getting to be around the Kentucky basketball atmosphere and knowing how things work,” he said. “I’ve gained a lot of weight and I’m a much better player. I know a lot more basketball than when I first came here.”
Diallo says Coach Cal gave him the task of leading the team this year, and he has taken the freshmen under his wing to help them become the best version of themselves.
“I feel like a bunch of those guys lean on me to try to know how things work. I guide those guys as much as possible,” he said. “I would definitely say I’m one of the leaders on this team. I took the role from day one when Coach (Cal) brought it up to me, and I’m still just trying to learn how to be a better leader and lead these guys.”
The Kentucky guard also says that his time with Calipari in Egypt for the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup has helped their relationship immensely.
“It was great, us two getting to know each other bonding,” he said. “It was more about us getting to know each other than wins and losses and numbers, things like that.”
But how will Calipari use not only Diallo, but his other star teammates this season? The Queens, NY native isn’t quite sure yet.
“He hasn’t told anyone how he’d use us this season. We’re just playing pickup basketball right now and trying to get a feel for each other and see what everyone brings to the table.
What Calipari does know, however, is that his team will be playing a lot of positionless basketball.
“I couldn’t count for you (how many times he has said “positionless.”) We had a meeting this morning, and he said it about ten times. That’s just the type of team we’re going to be this year. He says everyone needs to get work on (positions) one-through-five.”
Back in August, video leaked of Diallo playing pickup basketball in New York with NBA superstars such as Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony, among others. For the Kentucky freshman, it was a humbling experience.
“It was a great experience. I was in shock seeing those guys actually come into the pickup. It was very eye-opening for me and a real humbling situation.”
Did he compete with some of the best players in the world?
“Definitely. I’m a competitor, and we’re all basketball players at the end of the day.”
Hopefully he learned a thing or two about how to win a championship from those guys, as well.
Check out our other preseason interviews:
An After Action Review is an Army method utilized to analyze an intended action. Let’s apply a version of this process to the Kentucky vs. Eastern Michigan football game to determine what caused the final outcome as well as addressing the Cat’s need to sustain and improve:
WHAT WERE INTENDED RESULTS
Win the football game.
WHAT WERE ACTUAL RESULTS
Won the football game 24-20.
WHAT CAUSED OUR RESULTS
Opportunistic special teams
– Josh Paschal blocked a punt. Coach Dean Hood called a “block” play after EMU’s punter had prior kicks during which he was allowed extended time.
– Long snapper Tristan Yeomans recovered a fumbled punt return.
– Punter Matt Panton averaged 47.2 yards per kick which includes a 71-yarder. He also landed 3 punts inside the 20 yard-line.
Defensive explosive plays
– 6 QB sacks, 7 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, 2 interceptions.
– OLB Josh Allen accounted for 2 QB sacks and 1.5 tackles for loss.
– Denzil Ware, Adrian Middleton, Kengera Daniel, and true freshman Josh Paschal produced 1 QB sack.
– Multiple Cats contributed tackles for loss: Eli Brown, Adrian Middleton, Denzil Ware, Kengera Daniel.
– Mike Edwards and Kendall Randolph registered an interception.
– EMU lost 43 yards on the ground. It gained 13 total.
– UK defensive line rotated fresh defenders which applied consistent pressure on the EMU OL.
– Linebacker Eli Brown quietly played a solid football game: 6 tackles, 1 tackle for loss.
– The secondary efficiently tackled. Led by Mike Edwards’ 8 tackles, Chris Westry followed with 4.
– Eastern Michigan was good; but not overpowering enough to limit the Cats to 228 total yards.
– Far too many 3-and-outs. Frequent 1st down plays that resulted in negative yardage put it behind the chains.
– No way to sugarcoat the obvious; Kentucky was dominated up-front.
– EMU totaled 5 QB sacks, 10 tackles for loss, forced one fumble.
– 45 negative rushing yards.
– UK OL did not control the point of attack in the run game. It also failed to consistently protect the edge during pass plays.
– QB Stephen Johnson was hit on far too many occasions. However, he did hold onto the football too long during one sack due to EMU coverage.
– Kentucky did not respond to change of momentum situations with touchdowns. This includes plays following forced turnovers, special team’s explosive plays, recovered on-side kick, an EMU 18-yard punt, and QB sacks that produced optimistic field position.
WHAT WILL WE SUSTAIN–IMPROVE?
– 6 QB sacks from 4 defenders: Josh Allen, Denzil Ware, Josh Pashcal, and Adrian Middleton.
– Allowed 13 yards off 27 carries.
– Effective tackling while maintaining gap integrity
– Averaged 49.4 yards per punt.
– 3 punts inside opponent’s 20-yard line.
– Blocked a punt to set up a 12-yard Benny Snell run for a touchdown.
– This group makes a repeat appearance in this category. Unselfish blocking was not overly noticeable due to EMU’s high level of tackling. But it continues to be unselfish and the drops are not a recurrent, postgame theme.
– Kentucky 17, EMU 14. The Cats failed to seal the deal with an ineffective final period for the second consecutive week.
– Time of Possession: EMU 10:22, UK 4:38.
– QB Brogan Roback: 12/25, 119-yards.
– Kentucky was penalized 4 times for 25-yards.
UK 4th quarter drives
Drive 1, Field Position-18-yard punt, Cats start on EMU 24-yard line. 1st down sack and intentional grounding penalty. 2 incomplete passes, missed 53-yard FG.
Drive 2, Field Position-EMU 12-yard line. 1 play TD drive (12-yard run by Benny Snell).
Drive 3, Field Position-UK 20-yard line. 3-and-out.
Drive 4, Field Position-UK 10-yard line. Holding on 1st down; 3-and-out.
Drive 5, Field Position-UK 40-yard line. Recovered on-side kick, 3-and-out.
– Allowed far too many sacks, tackles for loss, and nearly got Stephen Johnson killed.
– Failed to open holes in the running game.
– UK is averaging 128 rush yards per game in 2017. Finished last season with 234.
First Down Offense
– Another repeat appearance. Lost or no yardage on 1st down plays are putting UK behind the chains. 7/17 (41%) on 3rd down is efficient and ranks in the top 5 in the SEC. Matter of fact, my pregame comments were that 40% was actually an applicable goal for offensive success (Normally add 5% to opponent’s season average). Please see above 4th quarter drives. It’s the “When” the 3rd down offense stalls that is the issue.
What does all this mean?
This was a different AAR post to write. If felt that the “What caused our results” portion was far more important than the “Sustain” and “Improve” categories. Film analysis supported initial thoughts. UK excessively lost one-on-one matchups along the offensive line-of-scrimmage. But there were positives. WR play is upgraded. The Cat’s second offensive drive in the first quarter was highly efficient and forceful which resulted in a Greg Hart touchdown reception.
Eastern Michigan was an extremely well-coached opponent that played tremendous defense but lacked offensive weapons around Brogan Roback. Kentucky was coming off a disappointing, no demoralizing loss to Florida. The Cats played winning football in two of the three phases: Defense and special teams. There are obviously many offensive issues to fix which mainly focuses along the offensive line. John Schlarman’s crew is beat up, patched up, and struggled to find continuity and rhythm.
Kentucky is at its best when the football is in Stephen Johnson’s hands. Whether it be an RPO, play-action, or drop-back pass, positive results are more frequent when number 15 controls its destiny; however, the basis for Eddie Gran’s offense starts with the running game. 37 carries for 53-yards will not lead to wins with the meat of the schedule ahead. Ineffective running takes the play-action out of the equation.
The good news is that the BBN is experiencing the most successful 15 game span since the 1977-78 seasons; however, close calls are preventing it from enjoying an accomplishment in program growth. I’ve said it since the opening game, this team is not constructed to light up the scoreboard or break offensive records. But, it has to clean up the penalties and execution flaws prior to Missouri coming to town on Saturday. The Tigers will be well rested and prepared as its coming off a bye week while the Cats are battered. Going into the bye week at 5-1 would be optimal and is probable. The theme for the week is “Urgency.” Compulsion for a fast start and a faster finish. Determination to win one-on-one matchups along the line-of-scrimmage. And, insistence on capitalizing on an opportunity to be 2-1 in the SEC.
By Drew Franklin on ©October 01st, 2017 @ 11:00pm
On August 28, University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari held a Q&A session with several members of the local media. He spoke for a little under an hour (mostly saying whatever he wanted to say, regardless of the question) about the upcoming 2017-18 college basketball season and what he expects of his team, which, he’ll remind you: is the youngest in the country.
The interview was embargoed for over a month, but now it’s available to the world.
You can read Kentucky Sports Radio’s highlights of the interview below; or the entire transcript can be read here, if you’re really up for the challenge.
“None of the guys are where they need to be.”
“This is going to be one of those season-long — we’ve been through it before,” Calipari said of his young team. “It’s hard. It’s hard to be patient for me and our fans and everybody else, but you’re just going to have to be. We’re not going to know exactly how we’re playing until February and March. We won’t. But we’re talented.”
“We’re walking in to where we are so far behind every other team,” he continued. “Literally, we’re walking in with — I don’t know. You don’t have the time in the summer. You’re working two hours a week. They come back, we can’t touch them for seven days or whatever it is. We’ll be behind but that’s all part of it.”
“You’ve been through a root canal; you can do this, right?”
Calipari is no stranger to coaching an inexperienced team of freshmen, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
“That’s like saying, ‘Okay, you’ve been through a root canal; you can do this, right? You’re better prepared. You’ll do fine.’ No. No. It’s still going to be painful.”
He compared this year’s challenge to the challenge he faced in 2013-14, when he signed five of the top 10 players in America.
“You have a talented group of kids, but they’re not ready to win basketball games,” he said. “They’re exchanging baskets. And that’s where this team is.”
“We’ve got a great group of kids.”
One of the most amazing things about John Calipari’s time at Kentucky is that he has somehow managed to recruit the best of the best, but without any bad apples in the bunch. This year is no different. From top to bottom, he has a great group of young men on and off the court.
Campers at the John Calipari Basketball Fantasy Experience, and members of the media (myself included), have raved about the new wave of freshmen, he said.
“The fantasy campers, two or three campers are with each team. I probably had twenty guys come back to me and say, what a great group of kids. Some of you in the media that met with them the other day said, what a great group of kids.”
“Wenyen’s playing way better, thank God.”
One of the stars of the offseason chatter has been returning sophomore Wenyen Gabriel, who CBSSports.com’s Jon Rothstein called, “Kentucky’s best player this summer.”
Cal helped fuel that freshman-to-sophomore hype when Gabriel was the first player he mentioned in the 50-minute preseason interview. When asked about having another freshman-laden team, Cal responded, “First of all, Wenyen’s playing way better, thank God. So, he’s not the same guy he was a year ago.”
So, don’t sleep on a second-year Wenyen Gabriel.
“This could be a team that should play zone.”
Calipari considering a zone defense?! What?!!!
I wouldn’t expect it, but he’s at least entertaining the idea.
“We’ve got to be prepared from day one, okay, probably put in a zone,” he said. “And this could be a team that should play zone. Whether I play zone, I don’t know. You’re long and big and this could be a good zone team.”
Tony Barbee has long been an advocate of the zone defense, but Cal hasn’t budged. This year, though, Cal will teach it early in the season because so many teams will zone against them.
“I think from day one, we have to have a zone. Start breaking it down, start adding it and then start working on it because we’re going to have to work against it. And if we can play against our own zone, I imagine we can play against anybody else’s.”
Can you imagine the possibilities if they do zone?
“We could play with Nick [Richards], or you could play with one of those other bigs or play with all 6’9” guys. You could play with Hami[dou Diallo] and Quade [Green] — who’s better than I thought he was, which is a good thing. I knew he was good but there were some things because of his size, that I was worried about, but he’s fine. Shai, at 6’6”, you could have two 6’6” guards and three 6’9” guys. What?”
“Quade is better than I thought.”
“Quade was almost a walk-it-up point guard,” he explained. “But he runs the floor like Tyler (Ulis) ran the floor. Now I’m not comparing him to Tyler because that wouldn’t be fair to him, but he runs the court like Tyler did.”
“He’s really sprinting the ball up; he’s throwing it ahead; he gets people involved. He’s got some things to do defensively; you know, be more disruptive and all those things because of his size. But I said to him in front of the team before we went home for summer, I said, ‘Quade is better than I thought.’ I said, ‘I didn’t know you were this fast.’ You know what his comment was? ‘I didn’t know either.’ Then I said, ‘So why are you playing like this?’ He said, ‘Because you told me. You told me if I didn’t then I wouldn’t play.’”
“Shai can run the point.”
“He’s good,” Cal said of freshman guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who was somewhat overlooked in a class of young stars. “But he’s more of a ‘I’m going to try and get some baskets, I’m going to break this off,’ — that feel to be that position. He’s not to the level of Quade; but, here’s a kid that’s 6-5, he’s long, he can go get baskets, he’s got kind of an old man’s game. Great work ethic. He’s playing, and they can play together or he can play by himself. Or we could play those two and Hami (Diallo) together if you wanted to.”
“Quade will lead, but you need Hami.”
“When you watch the court, you’ll say: Quade will lead, but you need Hami. If you’re going to be that guy, you’ve got to lead. And leading means you’ve got to serve them. And I’ve talked to Hami about it. I said, man, you can’t go off in your room and put your headphones on. These guys have got to know you’re there for them. They’ve got to know it. They’ve got to know you’re not here just trying to do your thing. You cannot lead if that’s who you are. And if your stuff goes south, no one’s going to help you if you’re that way. If you want to lead, everyone here is going to be about you. And that means they’ve got to know, Hami is for me. But that’s all new to these guys. Bob Rotella tells me all the time, you’ve got to teach them how to lead. If you want them to lead, you’ve got to teach them because if you think they know that, you’re crazy. They don’t.”
Sounds like there is a lot of weight on Hami’s shoulders to be that guy.
“Guys are going to have to carve out their own space.”
“What I always say here is, if you want to play at Kentucky, you’ve got to be willing to carve out your own space, because you’re not going to be the only guy. You’ve got to carve out your own space. If a guard calls John Wall and says, John, I’m thinking about going to Kentucky, he’ll say, can you get your own shots? The guard will say, why? Because he ain’t running plays for you. You’ve got to go get your own shots and you’ll be playing with your teammates; but if you think, we’ll run something for you — he doesn’t. And he’s right. If he said, somebody came back to me and told me that, well, I hate to tell you, he’s right.”
It’s not for everyone, right?
“I’m playing freshmen if they’re better than the players that are here.”
Sophomores, juniors and seniors — you do not have an advantage over the newcomers, Cal said.
“And that is not my fault. If you were here, you’ve had the experience, you’ve been coached, you’ve been challenged. If you let that guy be better than you, then he’s better than you. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to play or you won’t make it.”
“I’ve probably started — my guess is, 30-40 freshmen since I’ve been coaching. I’ve probably had the Freshman of the Year in the league, I’m guessing, 20 of those years. I’ve had National Freshman of the Year. If they weren’t Freshman of the Year, they were on the All-Freshmen team and the reason they weren’t Freshman of the Year is someone else on our team was Freshman of the Year, so you’re just first team All-Freshmen.”
“I think you have a couple alpha dogs.”
Is there an alpha dog on the roster?
More than one, actually.
“P.J. has that mentality,” Cal said, when asked about any alpha dog personalities. “I would say Hami has that personality. Quade has that personality. I think you have a couple.”
“Jarred Vanderbilt — they’re like WOW.”
This quote is tough to swallow given the recent news of Jarred Vanderbilt’s injury, but this is what Calipari said a month ago about his freshman forward: “What the hell is he? He’s 6-9 and everybody loves him. You talk to anybody that evaluates us, they’re like, WOW.”
The best case scenario is Vanderbilt is back in time for SEC play in January.
“There’s no reason for P.J. to be a bad free throw shooter.”
“In Egypt, he was awful,” Cal said of P.J. Washington’s time at the stripe. “I told him, it’s good you’re getting this out now because you know you can’t be in the game late if this is who you are. But there’s no reason for him to be a bad free throw shooter. But I think again, everything comes down to his lift. Even if you’re getting, even on your toes, the lift makes it about muscle memory. If your lift is different, you’re just mental with it. It’s more mental than muscle memory.”
Vanderbilt’s foul shooting has also underwhelmed, but Cal doesn’t seem too concerned.
“I think they’re both tough enough that late in the game, they’ll make shots, but that’s an area they’ve got to improve.”
“I can’t stand ISIS.”
How’s that for an attention grabber?
The Q&A session ended with some political talk, when Cal was asked about the power of his seat and knowing what he says carries a lot of weight.
I’ll leave you the full quote without comment of my own:
Sometimes I’ll say stuff and they’re like, ‘Why don’t we hold that back.’ But the best thing that we have going here is, I cannot tweet myself. I have to give it to somebody to do it because I don’t have a computer. I can’t see the phone. I’d probably mess it up. So it goes to somebody first, and then it usually hits six eyes, maybe eight eyes, before my stuff does anything. And then we talk, and the reason is, because I am sensitive to the seat I hold. I’m also sensitive to not getting into the political fray of republican/democrat. It’s just how I feel. But I am American — I’m an Italian citizen to but — I am a citizen and I have the ability and the right to speak my mind, but it’s different for me because I have a seat that I shouldn’t try to sway politics. I shouldn’t. If I’m not in this seat it may be different, but I am in this seat and that’s just how I feel. I know some people won’t agree with me and say ‘You should even more.’ Now there are things that I will stand up for that I think are — if I think something is right and something is wrong, that’s totally a different deal. But how you get to the end result of taking care of people and getting more people work, health care — there’s different ways of doing it. Now I think we should have more jobs for people. I think we should have health care that works. I think we should have — our immigration should be fixed, whether it’s people in the country that work, how do we fix it? I can’t stand ISIS. Basically, what I’m saying to you is, there is stuff out there and there are all kinds of ways of doing it. It’s really funny: if I stood with President Bush, which we have, I got people mad that I’d even go near this guy. When I sit down with President Clinton, they go nuts. When we showed up and took a phone call from President Obama, bang. I talked to President Trump before he was President Trump, and people go nuts. If I’m sitting with Mitch McConnell, they go crazy. When I took a picture with Congressman Pelosi, oh my gosh, you would’ve thought I was just — me meeting with somebody and talking to them, or asking them questions — I sat down with Leader McCarthy when I was in DC. We had a great conversation, whether he is republican or democrat or independent. Those guys are impacting lives. I’d like to know what they’re thinking. I’d like to talk to them. But in this seat, it’s not my job to move somebody’s belief. I don’t think I should do that. Now some don’t agree with me. Some think you should do it because you could impact, but what if I impact it not the way you see? “Well then don’t impact it.’ Well oh really? So I should only impact it if it’s the way you think I should impact it? Okay, that works.
You can read the entire transcript of the 50-minute interview here.
By Nick Roush on ©September 30th, 2017 @ 10:00pm
A week ago Kentucky was knifing through the Florida defense. Tonight the Kentucky offense could do little right. The coaches believe the problem lies between the ears.
“There’s no excuse for not playing our best at home,” Mark Stoops said after the game. “We have to be more consistent, and you have to play a cleaner version of football and that certainly wasn’t very clean today.”
The UK offense posted season-lows in every yardage category with 53 rushing and 175 passing for just 228 total yards. When Kentucky needed big plays in the second half, they had to get them from the defense and special teams.
“We didn’t do enough on offense to help our team today and that’s on me in terms of, we just didn’t have that edge. Last week there was an edge,” offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said after the game. It sounds like a hangover from the Florida loss, but that’s not how he described it.
“I’ll never put it on a hangover. That’s my job to get them cranked up, period, the end. I gotta get ’em juiced, ready to play. It’s like that every week. It’s a hangover every week, whether you win or lose. You have to put everything aside and go to the next one. At any given time somebody can whip your tail and they physically got us tonight. We didn’t have the edge.”
Where it was most obvious was on the offensive line. Eastern Michigan had ten tackles for loss and sacked Stephen Johnson five times.
“Our guys, they’re a tough group and more so than anything, those guys aren’t accepting that type of performance,” said offensive line coach John Schlarman. He didn’t see the same edge he saw last week from his unit.
“Last week, we made some mistakes against Florida, sure. We could’ve done things a lot better, but we played with an edge, more so than I’ve ever seen against a quality opponent like that. Today we didn’t play with that edge and you can’t turn that off and on. As an offensive lineman, the minute you turn it off, a game like this occurs.”
Last year, the Kentucky offense was able to close games down the stretch by running the ball. Tonight they needed a first down to end the game, but the Eagles stuffed Benny Snell on the third down. Snell was visibly frustrated after the game, but motivated to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“We’re hurting ourselves,” Snell said. “I feel like this team has grown and has took way bigger steps to overcome worse situations than this, but we just gotta get better.”
After the game, the problem was immediately addressed by the leaders on the offensive line.
“I didn’t have to say a whole lot. The leaders stepped up and said what they needed to say,” Schlarman said. “They’re the ones that need to make sure we play a lot better, a lot cleaner, with an edge.”
The Kentucky offense has a week rediscover their edge. Stoops will not accept another performance like today’s.
“There’s no excuses. We just need to play better than that.”
Kentucky’s offense did not light up Kroger Field with explosive plays, but the defense and special teams did.
In an offensive struggle, UK’s defense kept Eastern Michigan quarterback Brogan Roback on his back in the second half. The Cats had five sacks, two from Josh Allen, and three quarterback hurries to stymy the Eagles’ offense.
Kentucky won the game with big plays on special teams. A muffed Eastern Michigan punt return led to a field goal that gave Kentucky the lead and a blocked punt by Josh Paschal set up the Cats game-winning score in the fourth quarter.
Kendall Randolph came up with another big play for the UK defense. His fourth quarter interception appeared to put the game out of reach, but the Eagles weren’t finished. A two-minute, six-play drive ended with a touchdown to cut the Kentucky lead to four following the missed PAT. Kentucky’s offense could not put the Eagles away (they finished the game with just 228 total yards), but the defense was prepared to save the day and close out the game for Kentucky’s fourth win of the season.
Just like Kentucky’s first two wins of the season, this win was not pretty, but after last week’s tough loss, taking an ugly win isn’t so bad.
By Nick Roush on ©September 30th, 2017 @ 11:41am
The University of Kentucky announced that small forward Jarred Vanderbilt has suffered an injury that will force him to miss the first three months of the 2017-18 season.
Vanderbilt suffered a left foot injury yesterday during a team skill instruction period. The injury will likely require surgery. They expect Vanderbilt to return by January.
“I just want to let the Big Blue Nation know I’m going to be fine and looking forward to coming back better than ever,” Vanderbilt said in a press release. “I’ve had some setbacks before and I’ve come back from all of them. After talking with my doctor and my family, I feel good about the plan they have in place for me. I’m anxious to get this right and return to my team so I can put this behind me for good. I can’t wait to get back to my brothers and help us compete for a national championship this season.”
Coach Cal’s primary concern is Vanderbilt’s long-term health.
“Jarred has been unbelievable since he stepped on campus,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “He’s improved tremendously the last four months. Unfortunately, we learned late last night that he’s going to miss some time to get his foot healthy. I’m disappointed for Jarred, but only because I know how badly he wanted to get this season started. I’m OK because I know this is what’s best for him.
“As I told Jarred, my concern for him is getting this thing right and getting him healthy for the rest of his career. We’ll miss him on the court, but I want what’s best for him and his family, and right now that’s taking care of this injury and making sure he doesn’t have to worry about it again. With the motor and worth ethic I’ve seen from him, I have no doubt he’s going to be better than ever when he returns and will provide us with a huge lift in conference play. Now it’s up to his teammates to hold the fort down until he gets back.”
The only good news is that Vanderbilt has plenty of teammates to hold down the fort. In his place, Calipari will rely on Wenyen Gabriel, Kevin Knox, Sacha Killeya-Jones and P.J. Washington to fill the void.
Fifty years ago today, Nate Northington broke the color barrier in the SEC. To celebrate the historic occasion, ESPN’s Maria Taylor traveled to Lexington to hear what it was like to take the field under such difficult circumstances.
After the piece aired on College Gameday, Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard said he had never heard Northington’s story until today. With ESPN’s help, hopefully it will no longer be a mystery.
The wild news cycle is going to give you a break this afternoon when Kentucky takes on Eastern Michigan. Here’s what you need to prepare you for Kentucky’s third home game of the 2017 season:
- 12:00 — The KSR Pregame Show Starts in the Bluegrass RV Lot
- 1:00 — Lextran Shuttle Begins
- 1:45 — The Cat Walk
- 2:00 — Countdown to Kickoff with Freddie Maggard and Christi Thomas
- ~2:15 — A Pregame Concert after the Cat Walk with Paul Childers
- 4:00 — Kickoff on the SEC Network
How to Watch/Listen
Dave Neal, Matt Stinchcomb and Dawn Davenport are on the call for the SEC Network. If you haven’t memorized where to find America’s favorite television channel…
- Cable: 516, 517
- AT&T UVerse: 607, 1607
- DirecTV: 611
- Dish: 408
If you’re stuck on the road and can’t watch, there are multiple ways to listen to Leach and Piecoro.
- AM: 840 WHAS, 630 WLAP
- FM: 98.1 WBUL
- Satellite: XM-191 and Sirius-138
- Online: iHeart Radio
Nate Northington’s 50th Anniversary
On this day 50 years ago, Kentucky’s Nate Northington became the first African-American to play in an SEC football game. Today the conference will honor Northington’s legacy in a variety of ways. During every televised game there will be a one-minute salute to Northington, College Gameday will air a special package to pay homage to his legacy and Mr. Northington will be introduced to the Kroger Field crowd.
Since the University of Kentucky unveiled the statues that commemorated the contributions of Kentucky’s four African-American pioneers, many have heard their difficult story. Filled with tragedy and triumph, it was unknown by many until recently. Their contributions cannot be overstated. Before you hear Northington’s story again, take another look:
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) September 29, 2017
Don’t Forget Those Clear Bags
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Forget your clear bags three times and you’ve got to reevaluate your priorities. I think the BBN understands the new clear bag policy, but I must do my due diligence one final time.
EMU’s Uniforms are Cold
Cold as ice, cooler than ice cold, these all-white uniforms trump all the poor pop culture references. At least adidas got one thing right this week.
A Big Basketball Official Visitor
Normally I like to “Stick to Football” on Saturday mornings, but there’s a pretty big recruit in town the BBN must know about.
Top 20 swingman Quentin Grimes is taking his official visit to Kentucky this weekend. Considered a point guard, the 6’4″ talent shoots like a two-guard. He could complement Quickley well in UK’s 2018 backcourt. Kansas leads in his recruitment, but the Cats are also in the mix with Texas and Marquette.
College Football Schedule
- Noon: Vanderbilt at No. 21 Florida on ESPN
- Noon: Northwestern at No. 10 Wisconsin on ABC
- Noon: Maryland at Minnesota on FS1
- 3:30: No. 7 Georgia at Tennessee on CBS
- 3:30: Florida State at Wake Forest on ABC
- 4:00: Iowa at Michigan State on Fox
- 6:00: No. 24 Miss. State at No. 13 Auburn on ESPN
- 7:00: Troy at No. 24 LSU on ESPNU
- 8:00: No. 2 Clemson at No. 12 Virginia Tech on ABC
- 9:00: Ole Miss at No. 1 Alabama on ESPN
High School Football Results
- Butler 19, Manual 13
- Trinity 28, St. X 0
- Southern 29, Atherton 22
- Danville 27, Tates Creek 24
- Bourbon County 27, Mason County 26
- East Jessamine 30, Mercer County 27
- Bath County 24, West Carter 22
- Hazard 38, Pikeville 26
- Fairview 32, Phelps 30
- Edmonton County 27, Adair County 25
We Gone Swang, We Gone Ball
Because today is my birthday. I’ll gladly pat myself on the back, but all I really want for my birthday is a blowout win. Is that too much to ask for?
Class of 2018 up-and-comer Jaxson Hayes announced his commitment to Texas on Friday, picking the Longhorns over the likes of Kentucky, Xavier, Butler and Georgetown.
I really don’t know what else to say, other than it was bizarre he received an offer from John Calipari in the first place. As you’ve heard many times by now, Hayes has never started a game of high school basketball; not freshman, junior varsity or varsity.
That being said, good luck to the young man in his future with the Longhorns.
And with that being said, I can’t remember ever being this uninterested in a recruitment or unfazed by a UK target choosing to go elsewhere.
By Drew Franklin on ©September 28th, 2017 @ 10:01am
Up until this morning, the identity of Coach-2 from University-6 in the FBI’s report was a mystery.
But now we may know thanks to CBS, and it’s Rick Pitino.
A federal bribery investigation into men’s college basketball may have cost hall of fame coach Rick Pitino his job: pic.twitter.com/0XaGaOvXCR
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) September 28, 2017
A reminder: Coach-2 was the coach with the “big swinging d—“; the coach with all of the power. Coach-2 was also in the discussion of getting more money for Brian Bowen’s family, and was asked to call Jim Gatto, the adidas rep, for the funds.
If true, Pitino’s “I’m shocked” and “I’m innocent” approach is a complete lie (shocker) and what little is left of his legacy is completely destroyed.
The Wall Street Journal is also reporting that Pitino is indeed Coach-2.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 27th, 2017 @ 11:00pm
How will I remember Rick Pitino? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself all afternoon.
I know what you’re thinking. Tyler, you work for KSR. Shut up, you’re ecstatic. You all make a living off making fun of Rick. You’re dancing on his grave. And yes, while it’s true that in many ways, my livelihood is tied to Pitino and Louisville’s MANY scandals, shortcomings, and general mockability, I thought this would feel better. I thought I would be happier. But I’m not. And sadly, I think I know why.
Pitino’s demise means I have to process how I truly feel about the man, and, underneath all the jokes, that is a complicated matter. Growing up, he was a god. He brought Kentucky back from the dead and became so beloved that people snuck into his yard and collected grass clippings to frame and hang on their wall. The reason the 1992 loss to Duke hurt so much is how far we had come; Christian Laettner’s shot was like a heart stomp to show us we were still alive. The 90s were absolute glory years, and I have all the cheesy t-shirts — always purchased at a stand on the side of Man O’War — to prove it. For a preteen tomboy like myself, life didn’t get better than Kentucky’s run in 96-97-98. Camelot was a very real thing, and while it was heartbreaking when Pitino left for Boston, you were able to deal with it because he was going to the NBA. It was the next level, after all. The Celtics, nonetheless.
Fast forward a few years to Pitino’s return in 2001. For Kentucky fans, it was one of those, “you’ll never forget where you were” days. Coincidentally, I was in Louisville at a high school journalism conference at the Galt House. To be quite honest, the sting from hearing that news for the first time has never really gone away. Pitino choosing to return to college basketball as the head coach of our archrival didn’t feel like a coincidence; it felt like the worst kind of betrayal. Outsiders can go on all they want about how he had the right to take whichever job he liked (duh), and maybe he just loved the state of Kentucky so much he wanted to come back in some way (ha!), but that single act cemented how most of the fanbase would feel about him for life. A traitor. Benadict-ino. All of the malice Kentucky fans have had for Pitino in the past 16 years goes back to that very moment.
For me, those feelings festered over the years until John Calipari came and, like Pitino, brought Kentucky back to life. Like Pitino, he had that unique kind of swagger required for the job; however, Cal was even better at it. While Rick held the fanbase at arms length so they wouldn’t mess up his clothes, Cal went in for a full bear hug, feeding and nurturing a wounded Big Blue Nation back to terrifying health. Not only was Cal winning big, he was beating the snot of out Pitino while he was doing it, which was music to all of our ears.
Even better, Pitino himself began to crumble. The Karen Sypher scandal in 2009 seemed almost too ridiculous to believe — which, in retrospect, has become a familiar refrain with Pitino. He had sex with a woman in a restaurant? On a table? He did it down his leg? In only 15 seconds?! The hurt that had morphed into resentment once again morphed into mockery and it snowballed with each win, scandal, and stupid slogan that came out of Louisville. As the Calipari/Pitino rivalry grew — and boy, did it — Pitino became a caricature to Kentucky fans. Can’t beat Cal! Looks like a corpse! Did it on a table with Karen Sypher!
Pitino leading the Cards to a (now defunct) National Championship the same year Cal and the Cats went to the NIT was a minor blip on the radar; the chance for Cal’s doubters to stand up and finally say the things they’ve been wanting to since he came on board. Thankfully, the world righted itself the next March when Kentucky beat Louisville in the Sweet 16, as sweet a victory as these eyes have seen.
A year later, the sex scandal broke and Pitino’s House of Cards began to tumble down around him. The jokes got easier. The traffic got crazier. Pitino became a villain from a bad 90s movie, furtively denying any wrongdoing as the room around him went up in flames. Only the hardcore Louisville fans bothered to defend him anymore because, really, how do you defend hookers in the dorm? You just can’t.
And now, we’re here. Pitino is the first domino to fall in the FBI’s probe into bribery in college basketball, and when you think about it, it’s laughably pathetic. Shoe companies interfering in college basketball has been going on for decades, and of course Pitino is the first to take the fall. He’s the most scandalous scoundrel who ever scoudreled. And of course he’s denying it all. He’s gotta get a check, after all.
Pitino leaving. pic.twitter.com/1HE3gOZQnx
— Marcus Green (@MarcusGreenWDRB) September 27, 2017
So, why don’t I feel better? The day we’ve been waiting for is finally here. It’s Christmas morning 16 years in the making, but instead of feeling glee, I just feel kind of empty. Honestly, the video of Pitino walking out of the President’s office was what threw me into this funk. The man I’ve watched roam the sidelines — both home and away — was reduced to one last smirk, one final exit stage right, his shoulders slumped.
Pitino is a great coach; there’s no denying that. But he is also a proven liar and a master manipulator. Objectively, he is reaping what he is sowing. But for Kentucky fans, he’s also the ex, specifically the one that keeps messing up but you find yourself still checking on. You tell yourself it’s to feel better about how far you’ve come, but really, you look back because there was something there once, and it will always kind of hurt.
In the very near future, likely as early as tomorrow morning, Rick Pitino will no longer be the coach of the UL Basketball program. This is a decision that should have happened long ago, but didn’t because of a combination of success, hubris and denial that engulfed everyone from the Card fan base to the University President. Simply put, Rick Pitino was too successful to question. He made massive money for a University rising in prestige, won at the highest levels coaching a program desperate for success and helped put Louisville basketball in a national spotlight that everyone involved adored. Over the course of more than a decade, he cultivated a loyal group of supporters, ready to fight all of his battles and defend his honor, no matter how bad the transgression. The Pitino Army included powerful government officials, connected corporate friends, wealthy local businessmen, hardcore Card lovers and loyal media enablers. Regardless of the behavior, they had an answer and those who went against the #L1C4 shield were seen as enemies who must be destroyed. Pitino made himself out to be the most powerful and important person in the city of Louisville and through success and sheer will, he achieved his goal.
But tomorrow all of that will likely come crashing down. The unchecked arrogance of the Pitino dynasty has seemingly finally hit its tipping point thanks to a new Louisville leadership regime and overall fan scandal fatigue. The Pitino defenders have jumped ship, with donors holding their wallets, fans complaining in disgust and former media friends calling for resignation. It is the end of the line and even though Pitino refuses to recognize reality (as seen by his unbelievably tone-deaf statement this evening), there is simply no longer an army to defend his castle. The question now only becomes how many people will he take down with him? Does Louisville clean out the entire basketball staff and find an outsider to jump in and try to coach the team on the precipice of the season? With talk of the dreaded “Death Penalty” being whispered, how harsh a punishment does the men’s basketball team receive? And in the process of cleaning house does Pitino’s latest transgression take down the AD many believe to be one of the best in the country with him? Being a Pitino friend/associate has for years been the ticket to success in Louisville and around college basketball. Will it now be a ticket to unemployment, ridicule or worst of all, federal prison? Time will tell.
There will be plenty of time to look back at Pitino’s tenure in Louisville and Lexington for that matter, and try to process what it all means. TJ Beisner wrote earlier today that Pitino ends his career as one of the biggest sports personalities in our state’s history, yet will likely be shunned from both campuses that he called home. In some ways that is truly sad and a Greek Bluegrass sports tragedy of unrivaled proportions. But it is also a direct result of a lifetime of skirting standards, both professional and ethical, and yet finding a way to come through unscathed in the end. I often took to calling Pitino “Teflon Rick”, as it seemed nothing could stick to him and his job was saved after behavior that would have ended the career of virtually any other coach. Pitino lied about everything, from the serious to the trivial, and now with no one left to believe his most absurd assertions of all (“I was SHOCKED to learn”), the door will finally shut.
After UL self-imposed probation two years ago (a decision that privately Pitino and UL Athletics people sought to have fans blast then-President Ramsey for), I and others said that the only way for UL to get past the Katina Powell scandal was to clean house and bring a new regime. At any other University in America, that decision would have been obvious and immediate. Yet for reasons that now have become clearer, UL decided to deny and persevere…keeping the entire regime that led to the problems in the first place. Over the last two years, the effects of that decision have been made clear. The University has seen its President resign in disgrace, its Foundation has been raided of millions of dollars that are still missing and unaccounted for, its donor base has eroded to the point that paying the daily bills of the University is in jeopardy and now, an even larger basketball scandal that involves the FBI and pay-for-play has tarnished the University for decades. To an entire generation of college basketball fans, when you one thinks of scandal and rule-breaking, Louisville basketball will come to the forefront. With one quick rip of the band-aid off, this could have been avoided. But now even more pain is ahead.
Thus while I feel no sympathy for Pitino or other UL Athletics administration members, I do feel sorry for the fan base and University as a whole. It is true that the enabling by these fans helped prolong these issues, but if we are honest, most fans of schools (or politicians) they support seek to initially justify their actions when trouble occurs. UL fans wanted to believe in Rick, Tom and Bobby, and the wins and income clouded their judgment. However what is next will punish them disproportionately to whatever guilt they may have. The Cards are probably looking at a massive rebuild of early-90s Kentucky proportion and may find themselves without postseason play for multiple years. The words “Death Penalty” have been thrown about and there was probably a time I would have rooted for such a result. But the reality is that the city of Louisville and the state of Kentucky need UL Basketball to exist for the betterment of the economy. Downtown Louisville and the Yum Center without UL games will be unsustainable and if that area fails, it will have a dramatic impact on the local and state economy. Even though they are our rivals, they matter also as our neighbors and while I do not pity their plight, I hope the comeuppance they receive shows some degree of mercy for them and our state.
Tomorrow the Pitino era likely ends and with it, a decade of UL sports that saw some of the greatest successes the University has ever known. Rick Pitino will stomp off into the sunset, likely angrily shouting his innocence of all charges, ignorance of the facts at hand and overall unfairness of the situation to him. But he is no victim and he certainly is no martyr. His fall is great because his scandalous reign sustained solely by absolute power and fear, inevitably led to his ultimate downfall. He will leave the University in worse shape than when he arrived and with a second fan base that once adored him, now looking away in shame. Rick Pitino, one of the top college coaches in the history of the profession, is now destined to be remembered mostly as a cheater of epic proportions and a punchline to sexual stamina jokes. It is a sad ending, but unfortunately one well-earned.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 26th, 2017 @ 10:20pm
It’s been about six hours since the college basketball bribery scandal broke and in between Twitter jokes and an ominous press conference from the U.S. attorney’s office and FBI, one thing has become very clear: the University of Louisville is in hot water. While UofL was not mentioned by name in the affidavit, interim president Greg Postel confirmed that they are under FBI investigation for their part in the scandal.
There are a lot of moving parts to this story, so here’s what we know right now.
UofL is “University-6”
If any Louisville fans were clinging to the hope that there was another university in the state with an enrollment of 22,000 that could have been the “University-6” mentioned in the affidavit, Postel put those to bed with his statement after lunch.
“Today, the University of Louisville received notice that it is included in a federal investigation involving criminal activity related to men’s basketball recruiting,” the statement read. “While we are just learning about this information, this is a serious concern that goes to the heart of our athletic department and the university. UofL is committed to ethical behavior and adherence to NCAA rules; any violations will not be tolerated.”
Once you stop laughing at the line “UofL is committed to ethical behavior and adherence to NCAA rules,” let’s go over those alleged violations.
An unnamed player was promised $100,000 to come to Louisville
Jim Gatto, the head of global sports marketing for adidas, has been accused of conspiring with others (Merl Code, Christian Dawkins, and Munish Sood) to funnel $100,000 to the family of “Player-10,” a top 2017 recruit, to help two coaches at “University-6” (Louisville) secure his commitment and make sure the player used their services as managers and financial advisors in the NBA.
That player is Brian Bowen
Bowen is not named in the affidavit, but it’s easy to connect the dots. Out of nowhere, he committed to Louisville in early June, one month after his family allegedly made the agreement with Gatto, the Louisville coaches, and the others:
— Brian Bowen II 🏀 (@20tugs) June 3, 2017
Bowen apparently did not want to go to Louisville until the arrangement was made
Bowen was also considering Arizona, Michigan State, Oregon, and Texas, but shocked everyone when he announced he was enrolling at Louisville. Per the affidavit, it was a “surprise commitment.”
Rick Pitino had the nerve to bring up money (!) when talking about it
When talking to Terry Meiners about Bowen’s commitment, Rick Pitino acknowledged that it was a surprise and actually said, “we spent zero dollars recruiting” him. Wow.
“We got lucky on this one,” Pitino told Terry Meiners of News Radio 840. “I had an AAU director call me and ask me if I’d be interested in a player (Bowen). I saw him against another great player from Indiana. I said ‘Yeah, I’d be really interested.’ They had to come in unofficially, pay for their hotel, pay for their meals. We spent zero dollars recruiting a five-star athlete who I loved when I say him play. In my 40 years of coaching this is the luckiest I’ve been.” [Source]
I have a feeling Rick will regret those words.
It’s all on tape
The best part about all of this? The FBI has tapes of all the calls and meetings between Gatto, Dawkins, adidas travel team director Brad Augustine, Code, Sood, the two coaches, and the family. There’s no arguing with the tape!
There’s another recruit involved
Player-11 is mentioned as a 2019 recruit Gatto and coaches were working on making an arrangement with to come to Louisville in exchange for money. He was discussed in a July 27 meeting between all of the involved parties in Vegas (the adidas Summer Championships were taking place):
The only 2019 pledge Louisville has right now is 4-star shooting guard David Johnson, who committed to the Cards on September 15. Johnson is only considered a top 35 player, whereas “Player-11” is described as a top ten prospect, so it’s not him.
UPDATE: Player-11 is likely five-star center Balsa Koprivica, ranked #7 in the 2019 class. He plays for Brad Augustine’s AAU team, 1 Family, which is sponsored by — you guessed it — adidas.
Louisville currently leads Koprivica’s 247 Sports Crystal Ball with 91% of the predictions.
They were brazen enough to do this while under NCAA investigation
The main takeaway I have from this? Louisville was stupid enough to try all this while they were already under NCAA investigation! So, to check that timeline once again, Louisville received its punishment from the NCAA on June 11; a month and a half later, an assistant was in Vegas meeting with Gatto, Augustine, and others to discuss paying Bowen and the 2019 recruit. In that meeting, Dawkins and the assistant acknowledged that because Louisville was on probation, they “gotta be very low-key”:
I’d be shocked, but it’s Louisville, after all.
Apparently Coach-2 has a big you-know-what
It’s not over yet:
A very good source at UofL says that we are not done with the announcements today…
— Joe Sonka 😐 (@joesonka) September 26, 2017
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 26th, 2017 @ 1:58pm
Our focus is obviously on Louisville in the massive college basketball bribery scandal that broke this morning, but it’s worth noting that while the Cards are only hinted at in the documents as “University 6,” assistant coaches from Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State, and USC have been arrested for their involvement. Chuck Person from Auburn and Emanuel “Book” Richardson from Arizona are named defendants in the case and face federal charges of fraud and corruption, along with Oklahoma State’s Lamont Evans, who was also being investigated while on the staff at South Carolina.
While it’s just the assistants that are named, the scandal will have a huge impact on Auburn, Arizona, and maybe even South Carolina, so let’s break down what this could mean for one of our SEC brethren and recruiting rivals.
AUBURN: Chuck Person
According to the FBI affidavit, the former NBA star turned Auburn assistant head coach took $91,500 from a cooperating government witness to persuade two unnamed Auburn players to use the financial advising services of the witness and Rashan Michel, a former referee who runs a clothing business in Atlanta. Person would then take part of the bribes and pay off recruits’ families ($11,000 to one, $7,500 to another). Person allegedly told one player:
“The most important part is that you … don’t say nothing to anybody … don’t share with your sisters, don’t share with any of the teammates, that’s very important ’cause this is a violation …. of rules. But this is how the NBA players get it done.”
“They get early relationships, and they form partnerships, they form trust, you get to know [financial advisor], you get to know Rashan a lot and like Rashan can get you suits and stuff … you’ll start looking like an NBA ball player, that’s what you are.”
Per the affidavit, Person met with the witness and Michel in 2016 and accepted $50,000 in bribe money and encouraged the two advisors to “get involved” with the 9th ranked player in the country. Two months later, five-star center Austin Wiley enrolled at Auburn. Person also tried to convince players and their families to use the cooperating witness’ services by claiming Charles Barkley was one a client, which was false.
In today’s press conference, US Attorney Joon Kim used Person’s actions as an example of the “dark underbelly of college basketball world.” Less than an hour ago, Auburn announced that he has been suspended without pay.
ARIZONA: Emanuel “Book” Richardson
Meanwhile, Richardson allegedly took $20,000 in bribes from an undercover FBI agent, former NBA agent turned business manager Christian Dawkins, and financial advisor Munish Sood and gave some to a top recruit to convince him to come to Arizona (University-4). In return, he agreed to use his influence to pressure the recruit and other players he coached to use Dawkins and Sood’s services.
The recruit is never named in the affidavit, but reading between the lines, it’s clear it is five-star 2018 point guard Jahvon Quinerly. On or around June 20, 2017, Richardson and Dawkins had this discussion about the recruit (language NSFW):
On July 20:
Quiverly is from Jersey City. On August 11:
Quiverly committed to Arizona on August 8, three days prior to that exchange.
Current Arizona players are also mentioned as part of the scheme, although not by name. They’re listed as Player-6 and Player-7. I’m not going to list the roster, but Arizona’s got a few big-name guys this year…
Also of note: Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans was also arrested on similar charges and was being investigated while he was on the staff at South Carolina (University-2), so the Gamecocks are also involved. Again, language NSFW:
While at South Carolina, Evans recruited Sindarius Thornwell and PJ Dozier. Oh boy.