Imagine being so successful in your sport that you earn a place in the Olympics, only to have it canceled. Now, imagine going on to become a movie star. That’s the story of Esther Williams, swimming champion turned Hollywood darling. Williams passed away at the age of 91 on Thursday. After giving up on her Olympic dreams when the 1940 Olympics were canceled because of WWII, Williams turned her talent into fame, becoming the face of Hollywood’s “aqua musicals.”
From her NY Times obituary:
“At a time when most movies cost less than $2 million, MGM built Ms. Williams a $250,000 swimming pool on Stage 30. It had underwater windows, colored fountains and hydraulic lifts, and it was usually stocked with a dozen bathing beauties. Performing in that 25-foot-deep pool, which the swimmers nicknamed Pneumonia Alley, Ms. Williams ruptured her eardrums seven times.”
As someone who practically lived in a pool growing up and consquently, had a nasty bout of Swimmer’s Ear each year, I can sort of kind of pretend to relate. Williams went on to star appear in over 20 films through the 1950s, including “Bathing Beauty,” “Neptune’s Daughter” and “Million Dollar Mermaid.” Check out her skills:
RIP, sweet Esther. Thanks for making swimming hot.
I’m going to Philly in the morning and I haven’t even packed, so let’s get to these news and views.
— On Friday, we said goodbye to five football players. DeMarcus Sweat (WR), Bookie Cobbins (WR), Shawn Blaylock (CB), Demarius Rancifer (LB) and Sterling Wright (S) are all leaving the program for various reasons, most of which were undisclosed. Here are the details we know:
DeMarcus Sweat: Sweat is leaving UK because of academics. The Georgia native will attend a junior college and the UK staff is working with him to get him enrolled. Sweat had a promising first year, but this may not be goodbye. He says that while he’s disappointed he didn’t meet UK’s academic requirements, he’s determined to go to a junior college, improve his academics, and “come back stronger.”
Shawn Blaylock: Blaylock is still recovering from a knee injury, and according to his high school coach, was asked by UK to give up his athletic scholarship so they could use it for recruiting. Ben Jones reports that UK offered to pay for the remainder of his college education, but it would have meant the end of his college career. Blaylock wasn’t ready to give up on his football dreams yet, so Kentucky will help him transfer elsewhere.
Demarcus Rancifer: The staff encouraged Rancifer to transfer because they thought he might not get much playing time. Kyle Tucker spoke to Rancifer’s high school coach, who said that defensive coordinator DJ Eliot told Rancifer point blank “you’ll never play here,” and to look elsewhere. Before call Eliot cruel, by letting Rancifer and the other players know the truth now, the staff is giving them a chance to go somewhere else with more opportunities for playing time. It’s just another sign of how different the new staff’s attitdue towards recruiting is. Rancifer’s HS coach was right when he said that UK is now recruiting “a different type of athlete,” and recruits will “have to give (UK) reason to keep them, because they’re constantly looking for a reason not to.” Rightly so. We supposed to be SEC.
Stoops released the following statement regarding the transfers: “We thank them for their time with the program and wish them the best in the future.”
— The purge leaves an already depleted wide receiving corps even thinner. Four scholarship players will return: Daryl Collins, Rashad Cunningham, A.J. Legree, and Demarco Robinson. Four talented newcomers will be expected to contribute immediately: Jeff Badet, Javess Blue (JUCO transfer), Alex Montgomery, and Ryan Timmons. Add in walk-ons A.J. Johnson and Austin Sheehan, who both performed well in spring practice, and you’ve still got a very small group. Look for Neal Brown to utilize tight ends and running backs often, and anyone who does well in practice to receive an opportunity to shine.
— Earlier this week, Drew Barker and Mikel Horton showed off letters of support from UK. On Thursday, it was Kobie Walker’s turn:
If you missed it below, Nick Roush had an awesome preview of this weekend’s big Saturday Night Prime Time Camp. Several of UK’s top targets will attend, and let’s just say that the staff is planning to play at least a few rounds of Yahtzee.
— Stop mailing things to John Calipari for him to sign, guys. Seriously. That means you and your fifty-seven commemorative pieces of the Assembly Hall floor, Tom Crean.
— The football news wasn’t all bad on Thursday. Avery Williamson, Kevin Mitchell, and Jonathan George went before the media to talk about their recent service trip to Ethiopia. While there, they distributed water filters and food to residents. It’s the third year in a row the athletic department has sponsored the service trip, which past participants Danny Trevathan, Stuart Hines, Mikie Benton, Matt Smith and Larry Warford all say changed their perspectives and helped them guide their teammates. Jonathan George said one memory stuck out more than the rest:
“We visited a leprosy community and there was an older man who didn’t have any legs. He walked around with flip flops on his hands and he used his hands to get around with. We were bagging food and charcoal for the people and he came in and started helping with his hands. He helped us bag the food that wasn’t just for him but for other people as well. He had a bike that he rode on and pedaled with his hands and that’s how he got around.”
Check out more of their comments in the video above.
— We’re 84 days away from the season opener against Western Kentucky! When asked about his team’s chances, Bobby Petrino delivered some relatively tepid and logical trash talk: “If we’re tougher than them in the fourth quarter, we’ll win the game.”
Be careful coming down Ridgetop on that hog, Bobby.
— Archie Goodwin’s slipping draft stock isn’t for lack of trying from John Calipari. According to Chad Ford, Calipari has been working the phones on Archie’s behalf. Ford says that while there’s still a chance Archie could go in the first round, the second is looking much more likely. And if that happens, he’ll be the first of Cal’s one-and-done players to go in the second round. As Ford put it, “He clearly should’ve returned to school.”
— In basketball recruiting news, ZagsBlog is reporting that UK has shown interest in 2015 big man Cheick Diallo. The Africa native has only been playing organized basketball for three years, and spent his childhood playing soccer. His upside is so impressive he’s already got offers from Kansas, Louisville, Syracuse, and others. Stay tuned…
— Finally, you know you’re from the South when…despite the brand, you call a carbonated beverage “Coke”:
Thank God I’m not the only one. Check out these other interesting graphs about the nation’s “dialects.”
Friday’s show will be a replay of show the day after the National Championship, so break out your Mardi Gras beads and get ready to relive some memories.
Drew will be by in the morning to take care of you guys before he leaves for a mandatory weeklong vacation. I’ve heard the plans and well, just be very jealous.