Today was the calm before the storm in the sports world of autumn. Football is back in Commonwealth Stadium — for better or worse — the NFL and its replacement referees jump into full swing on Sunday, and so does Fantasy Football. The Cowboys vs. Giants teaser in the middle of the week helped get me going, but I only had two players for my freebie league in play; so my interest was low. Sunday I will be glued to the television and ESPN’s Fantasy Tracker app. This will be a good weekend.
— Tomorrow is Kent State day. A fair assessment of the fan base is about one quarter are genuinely excited and ready to root for the team. Half the fans are completely disinterested and waiting for a real tipping point, either positively or negatively, to totally jump off board or get back on. And the other quarter despises Joker Phillips, Mitch Barnhart, footballs, the brand of Joker’s underwear and his favorite color.
— Kickoff is slated for 7:30, but will not be televised on cable in Lexington. You’ll need Dish, DirecTV, or an internet connection to stream on ESPN3.com
— If you’re going to the game, I want to hear about the experience. How are the tailgaters? Are they as amped up as normal? What is the pre-game in the stadium? What is the emotion and vibe surrounding the Blue Lot? How is the atmosphere at kickoff? Tweet me @StuartHammerKSR and fill me as a fan… What the rest of the fans are doing?
— Remember the last time Kent State played Kentucky? You don’t? Ask baseball fans that question and they wont hesitate. If Kentucky football is seeking any extra motivation tomorrow, they need to look no further than Gary Henderson and the UK baseball team. The Golden Flashes ended the Wildcats season, beating them twice in the regionals of the NCAA Tournament in June. You may remember the 21-inning marathon that was decided after 6 and a half hours, with the Cats falling by a run. Kentucky battled though the double-elimination bracket but was bounced again by Kent State with a spot in the Super Regional on the line. How about a little revenge?
— To basketball now: Drew Franklin posted an uncomfortable but interesting “blast from the past” earlier, an ESPN feature going all-access on Kentucky basketball in 2009. The tail end of that season was a disastrous collapse which saw the Wildcats lose four straight games and six of their last eight, all but sealing a postseason appearance in the NIT.
— A quote that really stuck out to me, and something that should have been just another warning sign of the kind of person Billy Gillispie was, came during a shoot around in the Craft Center as the team prepared for LSU. Gillispie stopped the workout and criticized the team saying, “That’s a very very typical play for us all year long. I can’t coach you to make a play, all I can do it put you in a position to make play. That’s on you. That’s where it’s been, that’s where it is.” It started off true enough, but in typical Billy Clyde fashion, he shoves the blame off of his own coaching ability, and now it’s solely player’s fault. I really can’t believe we put up with that a-hole.
— Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Holcutt will certainly be meeting with Gillispie sooner rather than later. Gillispie was released from the University Medical Center in Lubbock after being admitted last Friday and treated for high blood pressure. The end is nigh, Clyde.
— Shifting gears back to better and happier news, did you see that new Wildcat Coal Lodge? Holy smokes that is a nice place. When do we up the ante and talk about Kentucky being the Platinum Standard of college basketball?
— UK women’s soccer defeated No. 12 Louisville tonight on the road.
— Savannah State is the biggest underdog in the history of college football. Last week they were demolished by Oklahoma State 84-0 after being given +65.5 points in Stillwater (which was the record for a week). This week Las Vegas is spotting them +70.5 points against No. 6 Florida State. SEVENTY AND A HALF. The Tigers will walk away at the end of the day with a monumental loss, but not all is lost. The team will take a paycheck worth about $500,000 back to their athletic department. Will you bet the spread on this one? The line went down a point on Friday night to 69.5, so betters are picking the Tigers.
— Speaking of point spreads, Kentucky is a seven-point favorite over Kent State. A Mid-American Conference team. At home. Yeesh…
Have a good one, Big Blue Nation. We’ll see you back here tomorrow morning; gearing up for a win over the Golden Flashes. Max Smith is gonna go off. Mark it down.