Who says Americans don’t care about Soccer?
Happy 66th birthday to the man that doesn’t look a day past 78, the 42nd President of the United States Bill Clinton. I’m sure no matter what I write here someone will take offense to it, so I won’t go on too long about the man that created a budget surplus, signed NAFTA into effect, was involved in numerous scandals and iconically knew how to make an intern feel like one of the team. No matter your politics though, you have to give Bill some credit for being a positive ambassador for the United States and a guy you’d totally want to have a beer with. You know, unless you hate him for being a Democrat. That’s cool too.
Perhaps not too surprisingly, yesterday was a pretty slow news day in the world of UK Sports. We are coming off a high from two weeks of surprise August basketball, Joker hasn’t landed a surprise recruit in about 24 hours, and while the football team is finally practicing the games are still a few weeks away. Still, there are a few things important yo take note of and a few that are of absolutely no significance. We’ll make sure you know both.
A few news and views headed into a nice August weekend:
— The biggest news in the college sporting world continues to be the controversy surrounding the Miami program. Matts post just below mine did an excellent job outlining the hypocrisy surrounding the situation so make sure you go read that. But the focus for most non-U fans shifts to what punishments will befall the once better than average program. While we are still a ways away from learning the results of an NCAA investigation, with the implication that 72 athletes were receiving improper benefits (and we’re talking benefits that would make the President of Fenerbahce blush) most people assume the hammer is going to drop on the Hurricanes. Only most people would be wrong, according to both Gregg Doyel and the New York Times. Gregg opines that the NCAA doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to administer the death penalty anymore – it would just push other NCAA schools even further towards Cal’s 4 independent Superconference idea.
The New York Times agree’s with Gregg, but uses quotes from NCAA officials to back the theory up. You see, no team has received the harshest NCAA penalties – a television ban and/or the death penalty – since 96 and 87 respectively. But of the punishments, the NCAA Vice President of Enforcement went so far as to say that little discussion has been had about reviving those harsh penalties. Instead you will likely see Miami get off with reduced scholarships and a lengthy post-season ban. Honestly, no matter what the number attached to both of those punishments is, it would be an embarrassment given the allegations currently connected to the story. What was going on at Miami was the definition of what people think of when they say College Athletics is dirty. If you can’t come down hard on that (but you can spend half a year arguing with Kentucky about game balls,) your institution is more useless than the US Congress. And that’s saying something.
— In positive (I guess) punishment news, Terrelle Pryor’s punishment from the NCAA was essentially upheld by the NFL. Pryor left OSU after the controversy at Ohio State exploded and has put his name in the supplemental draft. The NFL has decided to suspend him for five weeks of practice and the first five games for whichever team decides to draft him. Honestly it’s a surprising move, and likely one that the NCAA really needed to go their way. It shows a connection between the NCAA and the NFL that hasn’t been existent in the past, proving you can’t escape your punishments by bolting to the NFL. Of course you can’ serve your punishment while collecting a paycheck, but hey, you can do that at Miami too. Connectivity.
— Okay, past all that and onto some Kentucky news. Yesterday Joker waved goodbye to another player fans were excited about this season. Jerrell Priester wasn’t on anyones Heisman watch list, but he was a name that fans were familiar with on a team full of new players. Priester had received a lot of positive press in the off season as a potential player to watch on the defensive side of the ball, but when fall camp started up he found himself towards the bottom end of the depth chart. There is still no official word on why Preister decided to transfer, but after a year of being delegated mainly to special teams followed by another year sitting 3rd on the depth chart it wouldn’t be surprising if Jerrell left to find a place where he could get more reps. There will be a few who bemoan the loss of another potential contributor, but Joker has said a number of times that one of the best things about this years team is that they all seem to buying in together. If there’s a player that doesn’t want to be here, it’s probably best we wish them well on their way out.
— In any other off season, Darius Miller and Team USA would be getting a lot more attention. Not so with Calipari. Between the top recruiting class arriving on campus, pick up games, and Pro’s vs the Dominican Republic, it has been easy to gloss over the accomplishments of Kentucky’s own returning Senior. Miller has been playing his role with Team USA as they have gone 5-0 in the preliminary rounds of the World University Games, scoring when needed and picking up a high number of boards every game. His point totals haven’t been the highest, but they haven’t needed to be – and the key statistic in my opinion has been Miller’s consistency. Check out Miller’s box scores and you will see he has been hitting his shots at a clip of 50% or greater nearly every outing. Up until SEC play last year, Darius was a very inconsistent player. As the season came to a close he seemed to have found his groove and his stint with Team USA suggests he is still in it. If he can continue to be a consistent scoring threat next year, Kentucky will very likely be unguardable.
— The Kentucky SEC schedule dropped yesterday with the only surprising note (other than the exclusion of potential TAMU games) was the noticeable drop in attractiveness in the Tennessee vs Kentucky match up. You knew the game would lose some of its luster with the firing of Bruce Pearl and we all knew Cuonzo Martin’s Volunteers wouldn’t have the same hype surrounding them, but seeing the game delegated to ESPNU and the series being over before February was an eye opener. In the past few years Kentucky/Tennessee has been one of the must watch series in the sport – in part because of the length of the rivalry and yes, in part because of the deep seeded dislike between the two head coaches. Sadly it seems as if that era has come to a close for now with Kentucky/Florida and Kentucky/Vanderbilt getting the prime late season match ups, but who knows, maybe Cal will schedule whatever D-League team Pearl ends up coaching for next season. Pro’s vs the Maine Red Claws?
— You likely heard about the Georgetown brawl in China, but did you know that it very well could have been our own Jon Hood out there showing that China team that The Mop nickname stands for more than his just high school mascot costume?
So yeah. I think it’s safe to assume the Bayi Chinese basketball team took one look at our man Jon Hood and said that’s a fight we can’t afford to get into. Smart move my friends.
— Finally, the UK Volleyball team posted this video of them goofing around during a photo shoot. It’s not news and it’s not views, but it is attractive women on a Kentucky team for a sport I recently found out I’m really bad at, so I figured it was worth a little publicity. Seriously, if anybody out there wants to join a bad bar volleyball team, we could use a ringer for the tournament.
That about covers it for tonight. Make sure to tune in tomorrow for the radio show as Matt makes fun of Shannon the Dude for being Shannon the Dude all the while discussing Kentucky sports and delving a little into the Miami situation.