Perhaps the most impressive thing about Greg Gumbel, who celebrates his 66th birthday today, is the fact that you can look up a picture of him from 20 years ago and a picture from yesterday and his smile will look exactly the same. Go perform a google image search for Gumbel. Five hundred pictures. One smile. Gumbel became the first African American announcer to call play-by-play of a major sports championship in the United States when he called the 2001 Super Bowl for CBS. Gumbel got his first break in the industry in 1973 when his brother Bryant, also a sports announcer, called him about a Chicago TV station job opening for a sports announcer. Greg was in Detroit at the time, selling hospital supplies. Since then, Gumbel has worked for CBS and NBC among others. Currently, Gumbel is the #2 play-by-play announcer for the NFL on CBS. Happy birthday, Greg.
And now on to the news…
– After a week of back and forth, the verdict of the Indiana/Kentucky basketball series finally dropped. The two sides could not reach an agreement, although the comments following the announcement by Mitch Barnhart and John Calipari clearly indicate that Kentucky bent on nearly every issue in an attempt to keep the series alive. A couple of interesting notes about how it all went down:
1) Mitch Barnhart claimed that the two schools had verbally agreed in principle to play for two years at neutral sites, with the possibility of revisiting on-campus games at the conclusion of the 2-year deal.
2) Indiana apparently caught Kentucky off guard with a 2 p.m. phone call in which they indicated that they would be ending the series, at least for the time being. Indiana was not willing to agree to the idea of playing the games at neutral sites.
3) Within the negotiations, it seems as if Kentucky was doing everything it could to extend the series. Kentucky was willing to play the game over the next 2 years at Lucas Oil Stadium.
4) Calipari’s commentary on the situation: “We were willing to play them in the state of Indiana and they said no to that. That means they don’t want to play us.”
5) Calipari made a comment about Kentucky still having a game in Lucas Oil Stadium next year, even if it’s not IU. Lucas Oil officials told Peegs.com that Calipari’s statement is not true.
-The reaction to the end of the series among Kentucky fans seems to be split. Some fans are disappointed to see the end of an era, with the IU/UK game being a historically important rivalry between two border states. Other fans seem to embrace the “In Cal We Trust” motto, recognizing the flexibility that can be opened up in the scheduling as well as the revenue that can be gained from a neutral site series with another (hopefully) top tier program. The people who really stand to lose the most in this scenario might just be the Kentucky season ticket holders for next year. Without the Indiana game, the home schedule lacks an exciting non-conference game.
– In others news, it looks as if the UNC series will hopefully be picked up again in the 2013-2014 season. Unfortunately, the series looks to be a no-go for next season.
– The recruiting news of the day came in the form of Wright State transfer Julius Mays. Mays will be eligible to play for his senior season and lists Kentucky among his possible destinations. The sharp shooter is also considering Michigan State, Purdue, Cincinnati and Michigan.
– The University of Kentucky made a big investment in the future of women’s basketball by signing head coach Matthew Mitchell to a new and greatly improved 7-year contract extension. The extension shows a commitment on the part of the athletic department to keep Mitchell around for the long haul, building upon two Elite 8 finishes appearances in the last 3 years. Mitchell becomes the highest paid coach in the SEC (although Vandy apparently does not release those figures).
– Just a reminder that the national champion Kentucky men’s basketball team will be visiting the White House tomorrow. Regardless of your party affiliation, meeting the President of the United States is a cool thing for these players. According to KSR spies (just kidding Courier-Journal) at Men’s Warehouse in Lexington, Eloy Vargas was in the store today shopping for a suit for the big trip. ESPNU will be covering the White House visit starting at 5:00 p.m. EDT tomorrow evening. Andy Katz will be spending some time with the team during their journey tomorrow. ESPNU will also be airing a half-hour behind-the-scenes special entitled “All-Access: Kentucky at the White House” on May 11th at 11:30 p.m. EDT.
– Anthony Davis is 1 of 18 healthy finalists for the 2012 Olympic team. The roster will be cut to 12 players when it’s all said and done. Davis was quoted following the news, “It’s a tremendous honor to be this young and have a chance to represent my country.”
– The UK Baseball team dropped the first game of the 3-game weekend series with Florida tonight by a final score of 5-3. The Wildcats need to win the series to remain in the driver’s seat for the regular season SEC title. Game 2 of the series will take place tomorrow night at 7 p.m. in Cliff Hagan Stadium.
– Michael Kidd-Gilchrist could go pro in something other than sports. But he probably won’t have to…