Good morning, my sweet KSR readers, and welcome to the end of your dreadfully long holiday work week. On this beautiful Friday morning, I’m going to take the reigns and pull the buggy off course a bit, choosing to ignore such commendable September 10th accomplishments like the integration of public schools in Alabama, and pay our respects to Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks that leveled the Twin Towers, damaged the Pentagon and forever changed the course of American history. For my generation, this date will forever be engrained in our memory and our hearts as one of the most sudden and shocking moments of our lifetimes. Whether right or wrong, my generation knows Pearl Harbor and D-Day as pages in our history books, while September 11th triggers an unfamiliar feeling of fear and shock – and a moment that still gives me chills to this moment when I think about it. It was the day that life stopped and suddenly our country didn’t seem so invincible. It was the first time that most people in my generation felt that the United States could be a battle ground and that we realized that things would never be the same. For me, this day also puts me right back at the University of Kentucky.
On September 11th, 2001, I had just turned 18 and was about a month into my freshman year at UK. I’ll never forget answering the phone at my Haggin Hall dorm room and hearing the voice of my roommate’s mother, whose voice was trembling. She told me in a panic to turn on the television, which I did just minutes before I watched the second plane crash into the towers. I’ll never forget the emotions I felt watching NBC that morning, wondering if what I was watching was actually happening, hoping that she had been mistaken and the Bruckheimer-like footage I was seeing was just an elaborate movie ad. I stayed glued to the television before leaving for my class that morning on a silent, zombie-like walk. When I entered the Classroom Building for Dr. DeSantis’ COM 101 class, few students talked and an eerie feeling overtook the room. Dr. DeSantis, who was visibly shaken, gave the class simple instructions. “Go home. Call your parents and tell them that you love them. This is bigger than school,” he said. We left and I arrived back at the dorm just a few minutes before watching one of the towers crumble to the ground. For as long as I live, I’ll never forget what happened that morning.
I’m sure everyone has a similar story about September 11th, 2001 and none of us – regardless of age – will ever forget where we were or the emotions we felt on that day. And that’s what is important. As we get more removed from that tragic day, it’s important to keep the families of those who lost loved ones in the attacks, in the ensuing rescue efforts and in the war that followed in your hearts. One day, my kids will only see 9/11 as a page in their history book and might not fully understand the millions of lives it impacted and the way it changed the course of this country. But, for those of us who have friends and family impacted or felt the overwhelming emotions of that day, we’ll never forget. So, today, say a prayer or do what you do for all of the people who suffered this tragedy nine years ago. And let’s hope we never feel that way again.
Now, on a lighter note, onto some UK news…
– The big late-breaking news actually had nothing to do with Kentucky. And, given the subject, that’s a very good thing. ESPN reported late Thursday that the Tennessee men’s basketball team is facing an NCAA investigation and both Bruce Pearl and assistant Tony Jones have already met with investigators. The investigation reportedly centers around excessive phone calls, the use of unathorized phones (what?) and excessive use of self-tanner. According to the ESPN story, Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton said he would not comment until “an NCAA letter of inquiry is received”, at which point he’ll hang it in a sorority house so he can make sure Bruce Pearl sees it. It could end up being something major and it might end up being nothing at all. But, for now, you can at least rest knowing the NCAA is sniffing around the second and third biggest programs in Knoxville and has at least taken the time to interview the coaches, something that has yet to happen in the much publicized Eric Bledsoe case.
– Speaking of Bledsoe, the Good Doctor Jerry Tipton wrote on his blog Thursday that the results of the investigation into the Clipper point guard’s high school grades won’t be released until next week. The investigation, which you can assume will be inconsequential in terms of his season at UK (see: Arthur, Darrell), will, at the very least, provide closure to Thamelpalooza: Part I. If they find no wrongdoings, I would have to think that “@PeteThamelNYT” is going to be a NSFW Twitter search.
– Keeping with my impeccable run of segues, Thamelpalooza: Part II offered very little news or excitement on Thursday. The New York Times did say that they were standing by their man despite the claims of Duquesne assistant Rodney Crawford that his quotes were used out of context and misrepresented. The only remotely new piece of information was that the general manager that Thamel interviewed does not speak English. However, in fairness to Thamel, twisting your mustache while tilting your head back and letting out an evil cackle is an international language. On the bright side, with the strike of midnight, another day waved farewell in the 10-14 day waiting period. We are getting closer to an NCAA ruling.
– Not one to just sit around and wait for the season to start, Coach Cal hit the road on Thursday, the first official day of coaches being allowed to visit recruits at their schools, and touched base with Marquis Teague, Anthony Davis and Michael Gilchrist. I’m not sure what they talked about, but if Cal found a way to get three Frito pie school lunches in one day, he further gains my admiration.
– In case you hadn’t heard, the Cats play Western Kentucky on Saturday. Though Joker again spent Friday giving coachspeak about how the Cats could not afford to overlook their in-state counterparts, it’s clear that Saturday is one of those games that’s all about escaping with no injuries and getting some points on the board early. For all of the “any given Saturday” talk, the reality is that this Hilltopper team has lost 21 straight games and is nothing like a Jacksonville State team that won nine games last year (most of them blowouts) and nearly beat Florida State. An ideal Saturday means a comfy halftime lead and an answer by playing time as to who the backup quarterback is – another subject Joker was coy about on Thursday.
– An interesting note courtesy of the Birmingham News: If (is it really “if”?) the Cats win on Saturday, Joker Phillips becomes the first UK coach since Bear Bryant to start 2-0. And, as we’ve all learned the past several years with this program building, it’s all about getting these firsts. If you’re keeping track at home, that’s the first time since 1946. Or, as Jerry Tipton calls it, “just yesterday”.
– In somewhat surprising news, the Gainesville pastor who had planned a public burning of the Quran on Saturday changed his mind and decided not to have one after all. Then, just hours later, he changed his mind and announced that there might in fact be a public burning. Not surprisingly, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley immediately offered him a contract extension.
– Finally, ending on the note that we began with (have I said how important I think 9/11 is?), here is a clip from last year where Coach Cal talks with a Boston station about where he was on September 11th and what the day means to him.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned to Kentucky Sports Radio throughout the day for all the ridiculousness you might expect as we get ready for a Saturday showdown with the lovable Western Kentucky Bryan the Interns. It’s going to be a fun day. Make sure you stick around. See you in a few…