Let’s just say it’s been an interesting day in UK sports. On Thursday evening, UK football announced three suspensions: Cody Quinn and Jason Hatcher for the Georgia game, and Demarco Robinson indefinitely. There’s also a report out that senior Raymond Sanders has been dismissed from the team. Fortunately, there was some good news to cushion that blow: four players from UK’s 2014 class sent in their financial aid agreements, meaning that they are officially Wildcats and ready to enroll early. Let’s get down to The Good, The Bad, and The Potentially Ugly.
On Thursday, Drew Barker, Mikel Horton, and Nick Richardson sent in their financial aid agreements, which officially makes them Cats. On Wednesday, Thaddeus Snodgrass faxed his info in, and all four are ready to enroll early at UK.
What is the financial aid agreement? It’s essentially a letter of intent for players who enroll early for the spring semester. It guarantees their scholarship, as well as verifies that the players have completed all coursework necessary to enroll early. After both parties sign, coaches can contact players as if they had signed their letters of intent, which means they can speak to the media about them too.
While you read the rest of this, keep that bright future in your mind.
On Thursday afternoon, the Twittersphere rumbled with rumors of bad news coming for the UK football program. Several names were tossed around as possible suspensions and dismissals, and on Thursday evening, UK announced that Cody Quinn, Jason Hatcher, and Demarco Robinson have all been suspended for violations of team rules, Quinn and Hatcher for one game, and Robinson indefinitely. Let’s go over what each means for the team.
Cody Quinn and Jason Hatcher are suspended for the Georgia game
Let’s start with Quinn, whose suspension will leave an already-thin cornerback corps practically waif-like. It’s doubly bad news considering Nate Willis, UK’s other primary option at the spot, is out for the Georgia game with a lingering knee injury. Freshman Jaleel Hytche (bless you!) is the backup listed on the depth chart and will presumably get the start, but after that, it’s slim pickings, especially against a quarterback like Aaron Murray.
Jason Hatcher was Bud Dupree’s backup at defensive end, which means that if Bud needs a break from carrying the defense, the load will go to someone else, like Farrington Huguenin (Za’Darius’ backup) or Alvin Davis. Hatcher’s suspension is especially frustrating considering that, along with Ryan Timmons, he was the heart of Stoops’ first recruiting class and had a very promising freshman season. Hatcher is seen as the future of the UK defense by many, so hopefully this one game suspension will serve as a reminder for the rest of his career.
Demarco Robinson is suspended indefinitely
An “indefinite” suspension can mean anything. To most coaches, it means multiple games. For Rick Pitino, it means until the end of a press conference. However, with only two games left in the season, you have to think that Robinson getting an “indefinite” suspension means he’s out the rest of the season. It’s a shame. Robinson is UK’s third best receiver this year, with 213 yards and two touchdowns. He’s also the team’s primary kick returner, and has played in every game this season. In his place, the Cats will rely on Jeff Badet at wide receiver and Javess Blue for returns. With Raymond Sanders also potentially out, I would expect Ryan Timmons and Daryl Collins to also shift over to share duties with Blue at the returner spots. Thank God Ryan Timmons will be back for this game, or it would be straight up ugly for the Cats on offense and special teams.
THE (POTENTIALLY) UGLY
According to Rashawn Franklin, senior running back Raymond Sanders has been dismissed from the team for a repeated rules violation. While UK has yet to confirm this, it’s been widely rumored and if true, is devastating for the team. Sanders is the team’s leading rusher, with 106 carries for 464 yards and three touchdowns. In his career at UK, he has 339 carries for 1,542 yards and 11 touchdowns rushing and 56 receptions for 368 yards and 1 touchdown receiving. Sanders was one of three seniors Mark Stoops brought to SEC Media Days, and in turn, a leader for this team. I remember standing on Vandy’s field on Saturday and feeling bad for Sanders, who was visibly upset about his team’s failure to get an SEC win. That pain and frustration Sanders showed on Saturday only underlines how upsetting his dismissal is if true. I often sympathize with the seniors on this team because they only have a few games left during a transitional era in Kentucky football. While their junior and senior seasons at UK may end without an SEC win, the freshmen and even younger players coming in have nothing but stars in their eyes for the future. That puts the veterans in an odd and sort of sad spot, but that’s no excuse for repeatedly violating team rules. Without confirmation from UK, I will stop there.
Good news for you all who have wanted more JoJo Kemp: you’re about to get it. With Sanders out, Kemp will get the majority of the carries, followed by Jonathan George.
WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED:
What did we learn on Thursday? That Mark Stoops is laying down the law and cleaning house. Some coaches may be willing to let their player off with a curfew or slap on the wrist, but Stoops is sticking to his plan to build the program the right way, which ultimately means suspending or dismissing your best players if need be. While the road ahead is bright, there are still bumps, and UK fans should be thankful to have a coach who won’t turn a blind eye to bad behavior.
In the meanwhile, the road will definitely be rough to Athens, Georgia. Regardless, Nick Roush and I will make the trek to cover UK’s penultimate game.
Finally, our thoughts go out to Chazz Griffith, whose grandmother, Ethelene Bishop, passed away on Thursday night at the age of 72 after a long battle with cancer. Bishop and her family were huge UK and KSR fans (even if she called it “KRS” like Worldwide Wes). Chazz told me Thursday night that one of the last things he read to her was one of our posts, which is unspeakably moving and reminds me everyday to thank you guys for reading our stuff. Please send your thoughts and prayers their way. We are one big la familia.
On Friday morning, Matt has an all-star cast ready to get your mind off the bad news and focus on the good with Gregg Doyel, Bomani Jones, Doug Gottlieb, Jay Bilas, and others coming on to talk about the basketball Cats. Until then, let this picture of the Harrison Twins as turkeys cheer you up: