Well, here we are. Another week in the books and another big Friday on the agenda. A big, but possibly sad, Friday. If sun doesn’t seem as bright this morning and birds that haven’t already died don’t seem to be chirping with the same gusto as earlier in the week, don’t be surprised. This day marks the start of the rest of our Randall Cobb-less lives as our green-eyed football hero has decided to take his talents to the next level. While the hearts are still a little heavy as we say goodbye to one of our favorite young stars, this week also brings us a new up-and-coming Commonwealth talent as Kentucky band Cage The Elephant released their second album to critical praise and took the top spot on the iTunes album downloads list. The five-man band from Bowling Green isn’t just another band, though. They’re die-hard Wildcat fans whose lyrics have numerous UK basketball references and whose name is derived from a great unknown story in UK history. According to their official site, during the championship season of 1977-78, freshman center Charles Aleksinas would routinely show up to practice in the shorts of the era, which left little to the imagination, without remembering to put on his jock first. After his teammates were reluctant to battle him in the post, Joe B. Hall would have to yell at the 6’10 newcomer by saying, “Daggummit, Charlie, go cage the doggone elephant.” Thus, a band name was born. Or not. I made all of that up. All I know is that they released an album and they are from Kentucky. And I like them. Other than that, they have no real relevance here.
Now onto a few UK notes…
– From the first reports that there would be a press conference until the sun came rose again, Thursday belonged to Randall Cobb. In becoming the sixth Kentucky player to enter the NFL Draft early, Cobb closed the book on a record-setting career that might actually be remembered for more than those numbers. Cobb achieved legendary status in only three years and while his departure has a negative effect on next year’s team, you can’t find a single UK fan who takes issue with Cobb’s decision. It was clearly his time to go as his stock has reached about as high as it could go and the Cats looking to rebuild a bit on offense next season. Outside of adding to his numbers, there were no reasons to return. Yet Cobb still talked of how the decision weighed on him and how there were so many things at UK that he loved and so many memories that yanked at his emotions as he tried to decide. Because that struggle existed, it shows again why Cobb is so revered. College fans want great players and great successes. But, at UK specifically, there’s always been an apparent need to want the players to love the school and the game as much as so many of us across the country do. That’s the difference between a star player and a UK legend. Cobb is clearly a legend.
– On the basketball side of things, Coach Cal met with the media in his usual pregame meeting after practice and there wasn’t a lot of notable blurbs except for the notion that he might continue to bring Terrence Jones off the bench. Calipari said it was possible that Jones could start the game sitting down for the second game in a row, but downplayed the significance of it by noting that Jones still played as many minutes as he would if he started. If he doesn’t start, it’s because Cal liked the energy he saw from the group that started against Auburn.
– Cal again spoke about the quartet of bench players looking for a breakout and said that he wants to get Jon Hood more comfortable when he’s in the game. Cal said that Hood has “buzzard’s luck”and acknowledged that he seems to have the old Beisner Syndrome – every shot he contests seems to go in. He acknowledged that the effort is there with Hood and guys are trying to get him looks when he’s in there, but he has to play without the fear of making a mistake. For his part, Hood said that he expected to be getting more minutes, but he understands why he’s not. It’s his defense and his rebounding. Right now, it seems like Calipari really wants him to earn the minutes, but it just hasn’t clicked for him yet in a game. Against a struggling LSU game, Hood might just find that rhythm.
– If there’s anything that you should be excited about in facing LSU, it’s that you get to hear Trent Johnson’s voice. It is truly the greatest in the entire NCAA. He has the classic Bomani Jones super-baritone voice, but none of the inflection. It’s like he has a tiny tuba in his throat. I love it.
– As a part of the “Content of Character” series, Joker Phillips was on Outside the LinesThursday and made what I thought was a great appearance. There was an unintentionally awkward moment between him and Bomani, but Phillips came away as a great ambassador for the school and the state. The topic was on black college football coaches and whether or not they are getting the opportunities they deserve, but Joker’s contribution was more of a personal testament of a positive reception in Kentucky and how his race does not matter at the school. He also highlighted Charlie Strong at Louisville and Willie Taggert at WKU in making his point that some of the past stereotypes of Kentucky are not true and that the nation should take notice. I’m sure he’d rather be on television talking about a great recruiting class or his team’s successes, but those moments are few and far between at UK. Instead, he took his appearance to speak highly of the school and the state and for that, he should be commended. Not that it’s necessarily all that surprising. It was just nice to see that on national television.
– Later that evening, his football team got some positive news as three-star running back Marcus Caffey flipped his verbal from Purdue to UK. Caffey committed to the Boilermakers about a week and a half ago. This time, the commitment appears to be set in stone as he cancelled a scheduled visit to Arkansas. He’s the 19th commitment in a class that has fluctuated a bit in numbers lately.
– Your first programming reminder: Coach Cal will be on the panel of the National Town Hall Meeting tonight at New Ebenezer Baptist Church. It will air live on ESPN at 6pm. Cal will fly back to Lexington after. Hopefully he’ll pick up a commitment from Trevor Lacey while in Georgia.
– Your second programming reminder: Michael Gilchrist will battle Austin Rivers on ESPN at 7pm.
– One final question: Who is voting for Matt? Seriously. Who are you and why are you voting for Matt? Did you not make it down to the Drew Franklin button? I expect real names in the comments section.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned throughout the day for all kinds of goodness as we get you all set for LSU and Trent Johnson’s voice. The fun gets going on Kentucky Sports Radio at 10am on Talk Radio 1080 and continues throughout the day. That’s it for now. See you in a few…