Some days you strap on the helmet and score a touchdown. Some days you strap on the helmet and you score 10 touchdowns. Wait, what? When I read the headline, I almost didn’t believe it. Thomas Tyner of Aloha (Beaverton, Oregon) rushed for a state-record 644 yards and 10 touchdowns in a 84-63 win (which begs the question, was either team playing any defense?) on Friday night. Shockingly, the 10 touchdowns only ranks 3rd all time in the national high school record books. Two players went for 12 touchdowns in years past. Tyner scored on runs of 20, 41, 62, 60, 65, 48, 41, 40, 34 and 10 yards. Tyner entered the game with just under 600 total yards rushing and 7 touchdowns on the season. Tyner will be taking his talents to Oregon next season. And to add to the story–he did all of that on his birthday.
And now on to 10 notes/thoughts/take-aways from the weekend
1) UK Football lost a “must-win” game
I really don’t know how else to put it. Kentucky had to beat Western Kentucky. It didn’t matter how Kentucky beat Western Kentucky, whether it was a close game or a blowout–but they had to win. The implications of the loss on Saturday can be speculated here, there and
everywhere in the KSR comment section.. but for right now, the thing we know for certain is that Western Kentucky came into Commonwealth Stadium and outplayed Kentucky in every sense of the word. The game wasn’t a fluke. Western Kentucky deserved to win that game. The fact that it got to overtime was not surprising for WKU in that game, but rather for Kentucky. Max Smith finally found enough of a rhythm in the waning minutes of the game to execute an impressive drive down the field, but it simply didn’t matter. Kentucky came out of the break before OT and immediately was charged with a delay of game penalty. I have no other word for that than unacceptable. When people are already looking for reasons to be critical, you can’t hand them such easy ammunition. As soon as WKU scored the touchdown in overtime that eery feeling just crept up for me, and probably many other fans as well. You just knew Willie Taggart was going to go for 2 points. You knew he was going to go for the win. WKU was on the road and had carried the momentum all game. Taggart pulled the trigger, but not just that– he pulled it with style. The Kentucky fan base is fired up, and rightfully so. This week will be interesting to say the least…
2) The John Calipari Fantasy Basketball Experience = gold standard
The word fantasy insinuates that something is dreamlike and perfect, greater than your wildest imagination could come up with. The only way to enhance something that is already supposed to be the best of the best is to hand it to John Calipari. Calipari hosted a fantasy experience over the weekend that many other programs and organizations put on as well. As with most things though, he just did it better. Many of the men who took part in the festivities have taken part in other fantasy experiences as well. If anyone knows when the best has been topped, it would be those guys. And they said after only day one that Kentucky’s was the best they had ever experienced. Speaking as someone who observed from the outside, all I can say is that the people involved in the experience were living the ultimate dream for 3 days. And I’m not just talking about the “players” who participated…I’m talking about everyone involved from reporters to guest coaches to current and former players. Everyone had a great time. The dreamlike 3 days included things such as going through realistic drills, being coached by former college basketball coaches/players, getting a custom UK uniform, playing in Rupp Arena, court side seats for the alumni game, dinner at John Calipari’s house, etc.
(There is a lot going on in this picture, and I have to admit…I love all of it)
3) The UK Alumni Game was a family reunion
Please read Tyler’s post from 9:00 p.m., as she gives a great reflection on the event. John Calipari has worked hard in a lot of aspects in his time at Kentucky so far. Top recruiting classes, a national championship, tireless work for charity, putting players in the NBA, etc. One of his greatest achievements has been creating a “family” environment for the former Kentucky players. It’s not hard to do with the players who played under him at Kentucky, but he’s managed to extend his reach even further back. Guys like Derek Anderson and Walter McCarty absolutely love the guy and have publicly stated their appreciation for what he has done for the alumni relations aspect of the program. When a program has as much rich history as Kentucky does, how can that not be celebrated on a regular basis? Calipari has made that a priority and this weekend was a nice culminating event. We’ve posted it before, but the picture of Wah Wah Jones and Anthony Davis with their gold medals is one for the ages and truly showcases what the “family” and bringing together of past, present and future means to Kentucky basketball.
Photo by Chris Reynolds
4) The Biggest winners in the Fantasy Experience/Alumni Game
The biggest winners without question from the Fantasy Experience were the charities who received donations on Saturday.
* $110,000 to West Liberty Recovery Fund, a fund dedicated to helping tornado victims of the Eastern Ky town
* $60,000 to 4Paws for Ability, which provides dog services to military families
* $55,000 to the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which helps provide hearing aids for children
* $50,000 to EverFi Financial Literacy program, which teaches student across Kentucky the importance of money management
* $25,000 to Samaritan’s Feet, which provides shoes for the needy
* $25,000 to Urban League of Lexington, which assists African Americans and disadvantaged citizens in Lexington in the achievement of social and economic equality
* $25,000 to the V Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to saving lives by helping find a cure for cancer
5) Oscar Combs has a lot of thoughts
If anyone knows about Kentucky sports, it’s Oscar Combs. The man who has an egg for an avatar and goes by the handle @wildcatnews had a lot of thoughts following the loss to Western Kentucky last night. Here are just a few of the many:
“Regardless of how season ends (even if a coaching change is made) UK needs to address real issue of what it expects to accomplish in SEC.”
“Unless UK is willing to accept a No. 10 or lower finish (out of 14) in SEC, then a simple coaching change will not cure the many problems.”
“I said during bowl era of Rich Brooks that it was a product of sweeping 4 non-conference games which would not always be the case in future. And unfortunately, the future has arrived. And it’s not pretty.”
“I believe Mitch Barnhart has a good read on situation. He really is loyal to his coaches, give them positive backing, but not to a fault.”
“With huge shortfall in ticket sales, this is where UK prez has to support his AD in making difficult decisions on future of UK football. And future path certainly needs to be anything but what has brought UK the mediocrity of past 50 years. To those who think all you have to do to win in the SEC is wave a magic wand. If that were the case, you’d have 14 champs this fall.”
“If UK should ever enjoy a 6-2 SEC record, it would mean UK beat 6 SEC opponents. Name me 6 SEC teams you think UK could beat in given year.”
“If/when UK hires new coach, candidate’s first question will be how much time you giving me to turn this around? BBN will say 2 years, maybe.”
His fingers have to be tired.
6) John Robic is the funniest guy on the planet
Just listen to the KSR podcast from Friday. Robic gave the funniest evaluation of Matt playing basketball, and his sense of humor and timing is perfect. I remember Matt saying after his bus trip with Cal and company with the nat’l championship trophy that Robic was the funniest guy he’s ever met. I see what he means now.
7) The road only gets tougher from here…
So in the year you dodge LSU and Alabama…the remainder of Kentucky’s SEC schedule: @ #14 Florida, #7 South Carolina, #23 Mississippi State, @ Arkansas, #5 Georgia.
8) UK women’s soccer is worth watching, I promise…
I know, I know. Not everyone loves soccer. I get it. But if you like watching teams that are really good at what they do, and do it in an exciting fashion– the Kentucky women’s soccer team fits the mold to a tee. The Cats had a great weekend, starting off SEC play with a perfect 2-0 mark. The first win came on Friday against a team that was red hot coming in, ranked #13 in the country. Kentucky took down Florida in a 2-1 battle. Then Kentucky turned around on Sunday to overmatch Mississippi State in every facet of the game, putting up a 3-0 win.
9) Julius Randle was impressed
All of the best aspects of Kentucky basketball were on full display this weekend and guess who was there to witness every bit of it? Top 2013 prospect Julius Randle. Randle not only got to meet an unmatched number of NBA players who were spring boarded there by Calipari, but he also got to meet Drake. Roy Williams has no idea who Drake is. Rick Pitino has heard of a “Drizzy,” but doesn’t know a Drake. Randle also got to hear his name chanted in unison by the crowd in Rupp Arena, surely a cool moment for the young man. He thanked Big Blue Nation on his Twitter account before his flight home today. Well done, Calipari. If he doesn’t choose Kentucky after all of that, he probably also hates puppies.
Randle also told ESPN “Coach Cal and his staff were very genuine. In fact, all the people I met were real nice.” (and in the NBA). Randle also told ESPN that he will definitely be making a late decision.
10) John Calipari “gets it”
(Tell us something we don’t know, Antoine…)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times. It doesn’t matter. When something is true, you go with it. John Calipari, more so than any coach in the current game, gets it. (to the guy in the comment section who once asked if it was a requirement in my KSR contract to include “Cal gets it” with every post…my answer is no. Every 3rd post).
And last but not least…
The celebration is over but it can live on forever inside your home or office with this Final Four print from Stadium Frame. The 34×24 framed photo is matted with coins and features a shot of the Superdome court just after the final buzzer sounded to end Kentucky’s magical 2011-12 season. Go to www.Final4Prints.com to purchase the print you see here, or pick out another print or variation of this one from Stadium Frame.