I know guys, I know. It’s within hours of Kentucky’s highly anticipated matchup with Louisville and the official end to our summer sports drought; how could I possibly even consider dedicating the nightly news to something BESIDES the 2012 Governor’s Cup? But in Kentucky, the sun never officially sets on college basketball season, and I’d be remiss not to mention the Baron of the Bluegrass on the eve of what would have been his 111th birthday. Plus, Rupp has a quirky little connection to college football- before the Sugar Bowl was a football game, it was a basketball holiday tournament. The Allstate Sugar Bowl basketball game dates back to 1936, and Adolph Rupp made Kentucky a regular competitor in the event beginning in 1948, when he pulled his team from the Madison Square Garden Holiday Tournament. He thought the Sugar Bowl would be more fun, and I can’t really disagree. New Orleans proved to be a good fit for Rupp and his teams, and they won the tournament five times over Rupp’s career. Although the Sugar Bowl is now widely synonymous with college football and its ties to the SEC Champion (unless they’re in the national title game, so not recently), Rupp’s participation helped bring the public’s attention to the event and contributed to its continued success today.
As for the man himself, Adolph Rupp’s place in Kentucky basketball history is more of a guarantee than
when Chane Behanan says “point blank, period” when Charlie Strong says Kentucky will “never win again” against Louisville Drew Franklin at a Tin Roof on a weekend night. According to legend, when young Adolph was interviewed for the head coaching job at Kentucky and asked the exasperatingly awful question “Why should we hire you?”, he answered “Because I’m the best damned basketball coach in the nation.” He lived up to his own hype. Known as “The Man in the Brown Suit” and famous for his slightly neurotic superstition (including carrying a lucky buckeye in his suit pocket, finding bobby pins on game day, and of course, wearing a brown suit always), Rupp coached the University of Kentucky basketball team from 1930 to 1972, retiring at the age of 70 with four NCAA championships, six Final Four appearances, 27 SEC regular season titles, 13 SEC tournaments, and of course, those 876 victories that let him leave the game as the winningest coach in basketball history. Rupp pioneered the fast break playing style and set offense, and he was known as a somewhat gruff disciplinarian. His namesake arena was dedicated in 1976, and the Adolph Rupp trophy has been award to the top men’s college basketball player every year since 1972 (way to make us proud this year, Davis).
We could have a whole post dedicated to the birthday boy, but I’m running out of space and readers’ attention spans. Let’s leave it at this: Adolph Rupp may be the figure most associated with the University of Kentucky, ever, and in his own words, “We here at the University of Kentucky do not wish to merely participate in sports. Rather, we wish to be successful in sports.” With that as inspirational fodder, he gets tonight’s news and views. And hopefully a Governor’s Cup win tomorrow afternoon.
-First off, a huge congratulations to KSR favorite and former UK basketball player Mark Krebs, who got the answer he was looking for today:
Nice work, Mark. My advice? Make sure the wedding doesn’t conflict with a Kentucky game, and serve bourbon. Can’t go wrong.
-Back to the Governor’s Cup. Tomorrow, tomorrow, we love ya tomorrow- it’s finally time for Kentucky and Louisville to square off. Pack your ponchos and get ready for a wet and wild game. With Hurricane Isaac’s sloppy seconds rolling through Louisville, expect to see a run-heavy game amidst the inevitable slips and stumbles. And if we’re talking about the weather, we’re talking about turnovers, which may prove to be the deciding factor in the game. In two seasons as Kentucky head coach, Joker Phillips is 8-1 when his teams have won the turnover battle and 1-9 when they’ve lost it. Last year, Louisville turned the ball over 22 times (resulting in 56 points for their opponents), including three in their Belk Bowl second place finish. Louisville may have the advantages on paper, but if Kentucky’s youthful team enters the game unintimidated by the Pizza Box, the Cards’
2011 Belk Bowl Runner Up Certificate #25 preseason ranking and ready to pounce on some turnover opportunities, well, in the words of Nerlens Noel, “Gon shock the world !!”
-We can all agree that Kentucky is somewhat comfortable in the underdog role- good thing, because the “experts” weren’t feeling too forgiving in their picks this week:
I’m angry just looking at all those toothy birds.
-Want to talk some Louisville trash? So does Kentucky punter Landon Foster. Literally.
-I bet you didn’t know this, but UK takes the field in two other sports besides football tomorrow. The men’s soccer team continues their quest for their first win against St. John’s at 11 am in South Carolina, while the women’s soccer team looks to extend their season to against SE Missouri in Lexington at 2:30 pm.
– Elsewhere in SEC land. Football has officially begun down South, and while the SEC has put on a good showing in each matchup, some of the traditional powers have struggled in their debuts. Vandy played #9 South Carolina down to the final minutes, #6 Georgia experienced first half struggles against Buffalo, and #23 Florida is bowing down to the fickle field goal gods who cursed the Bowling Green kicker and made him miss two field goals that would have given the Falcons the lead. Auburn played tough and had chances to win, but ultimately lost to #14 Clemson 26-19. On the more expected side, #2 Alabama is currently dominating #8 Michigan. Like, it’s embarrassing. Moral of the story? Anything goes in opening weekend of college football.
-In today’s “Billy did what?!” news, Billy Gillespie told reporters today that his Friday hospitalization was due to a suspected heart attack or stroke. Billy has been under fire recently at Texas Tech after team members met with athletic director Kirby Hocutt to discuss his… uh… “unorthodox” coaching style. Apparently, Gillespie regularly broke the NCAA’s rules concerning practice length, and once held an eight hour Saturday practice. More creepy stories? If you were injured, he wouldn’t let you leave the training room- former player Kevin Wagner revealed that you had to arrive at 6 am and couldn’t leave until 10 pm, getting repeated treatment throughout the day. “My mom had to bring me food,” said Wagner. I guess that’s better than being locked in a bathroom stall? #JoshHarrellsonSaysShutUp.
Anyway, it’s possible that the stress caused Billy’s blood pressure to spike, which would lead to subsequent chest pains and the 9-1-1 call. Billy also told reporters that he’d never experienced any other health scares and that this was the first time he’d ever been hospitalized. Thank goodness he never had to get his stomach pumped after any DUIs. That would be embarrassing.
–Tired of kvetching about the UNC (apparent lack of) academic scandal? Switch your mental television over to University of Southern Cal and a couple of athletes allegedly receiving improper benefits while playing for the Trojans.
-Substitute teachers everywhere, rejoice: a whole new group of people is about to understand how miserable your job actually is. The NFL and its referees have failed to reach negotiation agreements, and replacement referees will take the field Wednesday. Their preseason reviews have been the equivalent of a barrage of rotten tomatoes thrown at a movie screen. It’s just not going to be pretty, and unfortunately for NFL players and fans, no further talks are currently scheduled.
–A couple quick KSR plugs before we call it a night. Have you missed the dulcet tones of Matt Jones and Ryan Lemond since Friday? I know I have. That’s why I’ll be tuning into their FIRST EVER KSR pregame radio show at noon on 630 WLAP AM and 98.1 The Bull in Lexington, plus online at WLAP.com. They’ll set up camp outside of Papa John’s Stadium and afterwards will make the walk of shame inside for…
-THE LIVE BLOG! It’s baaaa-aack. The Live Blog will be up and running tomorrow for those of you who choose not to brave the wrath of Isaac and The John and instead watch the game from the comfort of your own recliners. Log on around 3:15 ET and we’ll get this football season of live blogs off to a great start. I’ll be there, and I’ve been doing finger-strengthening exercises all week in preparation. I hope you guys can keep up.
That’s enough for tonight. Get your rest. Tomorrow’s going to be a long day of tailgating, hiding in cars during storms, invading the arena that fast food built, and painting the red town blue afterwards.