Today is the 50th birthday of an individual who was completely unknown to me until 10 years ago when he produced my favorite music album of all time. Billy Bragg was a British rock/protest singer throughout the 80s and early 90s, producing album after album of songs about Northern Ireland, Tories, U2, Prince Charles, Tim Henman and other important British topics. However in 1998, after being approached by the daughter of American Folk icon Woody Guthrie, Bragg teamed up with the American band Wilco (“Official Most Famous Band in America that has never had a really popular song) to create the “Mermaid Avenue” CDs, two collections of songs originally written by Guthrie, but never recorded. I bought the first of these before leaving for my time at Oxford University and the combination of being in Britain and having this great music with me, gave me an attachment to this album that still stands today. When I try to figure out what albums I would take with me on a desert island, I thumb through Nirvana Unplugged, Paul Simon’s “Graceland” and Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison….but I always end up with Bragg and Wilco. Today the English rocker is 50 and still playing music….but none quite like the Mermaid Avenue CDs….
To the news….
(1) BILLY CLYDE: Unfortunately our 6 pm starting time for the radio show makes it difficult for me to catch the Billy Clyde call-in show, thus making me have to ask what was said to one of our interns who listens in to collect info. Tonight was relatively mundane….Patterson’s injury is not bad and he will be back on Saturday…..Jasper’s return is still unknown and there has been no change to his status…..disappointed in the performance against Houston, although happy with the effort generally. Thus while nothing revolutionary is discovered during the show, a continued theme emerges as to how Billy Clyde is approaching this team. First, to his credit, he is not making excuses. He continues to say that fans should “blame me” for what is happening on the court and that he has not been able to get through to these guys as he wishes he could. But in addition to this responsibility, we also get a continued sense of optimism. Tonight he spoke about how he was sure that this team was “getting better” and would show improvement throughout the year. He also made clear that he planned on winning championships at UK and this is the first step in a longer process. It is easy to get down after games like Tuesday night, but Coach Clyde is intent on making this thing work…..I still think it will happen and I truly believe that Tuesday is the low point with a rebound in the very near future….at least I hope so.
(2) JUCO PG: There is an interesting article on TCP today about a Juco Point Guard who is visiting Kentucky this weekend. Tyrone Appleton is a name that has been whispered around UK for the past few weeks, but after Jeff Drummond’s interview tonight, we find out that he is visiting UK this weekend and has an offer from Kentucky. Appelton originally committed out of high school to Virginia Tech and was considered a defensive specialist among his class. He currently plays in Midland, Texas (home of “Friday Night Lights”) and is the starting PG on one of the best JUCO teams in America. His recruitment for next year suggests to me that (a) no matter what the big man situation may be, Gillispie is still intent on getting more guards and (b) the notion that it is set in stone that DeAndre Liggins will be a PG at UK is not clear. Appleton is very interested in UK and it will be interesting to see what the result will be of his visit. He is scheduled to join us on the radio show on Wednesday, so stay tuned…..
(3) RAFEAL LITTLE: Many of you have wondered why there has been so little news from the football world, but that is actually quite a positive. Practice news prior to a bowl game can usually only be bad, as showcased by the Florida State fiasco. The only news that has come out recently is positive, specifically that Rafeal Little and Alphonso Smith, the two UK running backs, are both very healthy and ready for action. Little is said to be in the best shape of the season and could have a monster performance. With the majority of FSU starters who will sit out likely to be on defense, UK’s offensive movement could be something to behold.
(4) JARED CARTER: There was a great deal of talk tonight on our radio show about the performance of Jared Carter against Houston and what it might say about his ability to contribute going forward. Many look at his six points and two blocks and see a guy that can give valuable minutes inside and produce points on the board…..something the other UK big men have not done. But I will remind all of those championing Carter to remember that there are two sides to the ball. While Jared did perform better than before, he also allowed his man to score repeatedly and was beaten on the offensive glass numerous times. In all, he allowed more points than he scored and his minutes declined correspondingly. I think you will see Billy Clyde use Jared more than before (when he played none), but until he gets more court awareness and is able to rotate on defense even a little bit, it will be hard for him to get even Mark Coury-type minutes on a regular basis.
(5) MUSIC CITY BOWL TIPS: Finally, over the past couple of years I have become a big fan of the work of Clay Travis of CBS Sportsline. Clay is (like me) a lawyer moonlighting as a blogger and we share a mutual friend from his days at Vanderbilt law school. Clay lives in Nashville and has produced a very funny set of Music City Bowl tips for UK and FSU fans coming into town. Definitely worth reading. The Music City Bowl trip is going to be WAY too much fun…..I hope you get to go.
I am off to Middlesboro in the morning, but there will be more as the day goes on……….