Happy Friday morning to you, sweet KSR reader, and welcome to the last Jersey Shore-free place on Earth. While this Friday signals the beginning of the end for many of your work weeks, it also brings the dawn of what could be a very newsy 48-hour period in Lexington. Before we get going on all of that excitement, though, let’s stop and celebrate the BTI of Bayside High, Samuel “Screech” Powers. The man legally known as Dustin Neil Diamond (thanks Mom and Dad!) celebrates birthday number 34 and does so as a shell of lovable character he played on television. After years of the playing the third-string behind Zack and AC Slater, Diamond emerged as a first-class A-hole this decade, appearing as the token jerk in various reality television shows, pretending to be broke to get people to donate money to him and releasing his own sex tape, all while placing the blame on people like me who still insist on calling him Screech. But, even worse, he’s the only person keeping a Saved By The Bellreunion from happening. So, for that act alone, Samuel Powers, I hope you’re the one who gets sent to detention while everyone else parties in Mr. Belding’s office. And I hope Kevin blows a circuit.
Now onto a few notes…
– Again, as seems to have been the case for about 75% of the season so far, Friday again means another day of waiting for an Enes Kanter ruling. The writing on the wall appears to be slightly unfavorable at this point, with the revelations that there have been three rulings so far in the case and that the NCAA denied Kanter’s original appeal prior to the new information. The new info submitted this time around centered on the “player didn’t know” loophole created by the Cam Newton ruling and Mehmet Kanter used Thursday to make public through Mike DeCourcy the fact that his son did not know about the money changing hands. But, that loophole seemed to be effectively closed in late December when the NCAA issued a press release to clarify the rulings and said that the issue in the Newton ruling was not that he didn’t know, but that money did not change hands. It seems to be a selective enforcement of the NCAA’s solicitation rules, but it’s nonetheless where we stand. Things don’t seem great for Enes at this point, but I’ll gladly be wrong. Expect a ruling Friday or, at the latest, Monday.
– The other neverending saga that seems to be dominating these updates lately is where DeAndre Danielswill go to school and when he will let the world know. Daniels told a Kansas site that he doesn’t know when he will announce and ESPN’s Dave Telep, who said that the decision would likely come Thursday, changed his stance Thursday morning and said it could come as late as next week. Despite some light chatter that he is still having trouble deciding, most still feel that Kansas is the destination. For what it’s worth, UK starts spring classes next week. Kansas starts them January 21.
– The space between basketball games, while giving Coach Cal a chance to hit the road and recruit, has also given UK fans the chance to speculate the possibility of an upset by GeorgiaSaturday in Athens. The Bulldogs were the trendy pick in the SEC in the preseason as Mark Fox, one of the nation’s most underrated coaches, had a team that surprised many last season looking to take the next step behind star big man Trey Thompkins and athletic freak Travis Leslie. Despite their 11-2 record, the Bulldogs do not have a marquee win on their schedule and dropped their two most high-profile games, against Notre Dame and Temple. They’re not a team that shoots the three very well and they struggle with offensively with their ball control, but they will be ready to play and they’ll be physical.
– With today being the final day before the BBVA Compass Bowl, it seems that the excitement isn’t there for this bowl game like it has been for the last four. I don’t know if it’s the gap of time between the Tennessee game and now, the start of conference play in basketball or the “meh” feeling I get from Pitt, but it just seems like it’s just not there like years past. The truth is, though, that this game carries a lot of opportunity for the Cats. It’s the official start of the Morgan Newton era. It’s Rick Minter’s first game calling the shots on defense. And, most importantly, it’s a chance for Operation: Win to end on a high note and carry that momentum into the offseason and next year. So, let’s make a promise to each other. Let’s not take these bowl games for granted and let’s find that fan fire before Saturday. These kids deserve it. And, if you’re feeling extra down, get your tail down to Birmingham for the fun-filled day tomorrow that kicks off with Bobby Bowden and then segues into Groove Daddy and Josh Thompson. That’s right, I said Groove Daddy and Josh Thompson!
– With that being said, the Cats had their final practice of the season Thursday (they have a walk-through Friday) and Joker Phillips raved about Morgan Newton. Phillips said that it’s “not even close” if you compare the player he is now with where he was last season when he was starting and that they’ve opened up the playbook for him after trying to simplify things last year. A big game for him against Pitt could do a lot for the optimism of a sixth consecutive bowl berth.
– One question being asked by a lot of fans as this new defensive regime gets going is what kind of coach Rick Minter will be. UKAthletics has a great story on the intensity that Minter is bringing to practice so far and how that change in philosophy is challenging a lot of guys to get better. A couple of players made their frustrations known on Twitter a few weeks ago and you can see from the article why. Minter is going to get after them and demand results and accountability. You have to like the sound of that.
– When we talked with Wes Bunting of the National Football Post about the NFL prospects of current Cats, he had an incomplete report on Danny Trevathan and wasn’t sure where he projected. On Thursday, we got a better idea. Trevathan told Kent Spencer of ABC 36 in Lexington that his prospects came back better than he expected. Trevathan said he’s being told he’s a late fourth or early fifth round pick. The SEC’s leading tackler said he hasn’t made a decision yet on his status, but we now know what he has to weigh when deciding.
– Spencer also noted that Mike Hartline traveled with the team and was at practice again Thursday. The ending to his career was awful, but you have to give him credit for still being with the team as they finish out the year. I’d imagine that’s a pretty difficult thing for him to do. And, no, I am not in any way sticking up for him or justifying his arrest. Just giving him credit for not running away, which is awfully easy to do when you’re that age.
– Finally, Louisville high school quarterback DaMarcus Smith is enrolling early at U of L, according to Jody Demling, ending any faint hope that he could switch his allegiance to Kentucky. Smith will graduate today from Jefferson County High School after transferring there a month ago. When the Cards got a commitment from Miami quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, some thought it might make Smith look at the Cats again, but that door now appears closed.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned throughout the day as we get you all primed and ready for the Compass Bowl. Drew Franklin will preview the game in a way that only he can and, as usual, the fun will get going on Kentucky Sports Radio at 10am on Talk Radio 1080. Make sure you stick around. See you in a few…