Saturday the Cats welcome into town a program that is…to put it nicely…struggling on the football field. Western Kentucky made the decision to move to Division I-A and get the chance to play against the big boys every week. Last season they didnt win a game and they began this year only slightly better, getting waxed versus Nebraska. But that does not mean that Western doesnt have a rich football history. In fact, the program produced the only remaining memory of the XFL, the great He Hate Me. You may not remember the XFL, but you should, as it was a great attempt at combining two of our favorite loves…football and pro wrestling. The league was started by Vince McMahon, began with a great television deal and a huge rating for its opening game. However in that game, the play was poor, the one big innovation (a scramble to midfield in order to get first ball) ended in a torn ACL and Jesse Ventura proved himself to be crazier than we had even imagined. The only lasting memory was Rod Smart, the former WKU star who took the name “He Hate Me” on his jersey. During the game, he was interviewed as to why he had the name and he said it was because people (aka “He”) were hating on him. With such a simple explanation, Smart became a star and later played in the NFL. Thanks to his exploits, I purchased an XFL mini-football which I still have to this day. The Hilltoppers may not be good and the university’s creation of Eric the Red should not be forgiven, but He Hate Me will live on forever.
Some news and/or views:
(1): It was Labor Day so most people either had a cook out or watched eight hours of the Jerry Lewis Telethon (I am in the latter group). But some folks had to work, including Joker Phillips who gave a number of notes at his weekly press conference. Some highlights:
— Joker said the kicker duty is still an open competition and left the door open for Joe Mansour to win the job this week
— He announced the injuries for the week, which are: Nick Melillo out, Taiedo Smith questionable, Dakotah Tyler questionable, Jordan Aumiller day-to-day.
— He announced the suspension of DT Mark Crawford for one game for violation of team rules. Donte Rumph takes over second string DT instead behind Luke “I aint a walk-on no mo'” McDermott
— Joker said he would make sure his team knew about Jacksonville State’s victory over Ole Miss and use it as a lesson to warn about the game ahead.
— HE also made clear that he isnt interested in scheduling another BCS school nonconference in the coming years, adding that they will play Western.
(2): Joker Phillips also focused today on what has become a huge cottage industry for UK football, the Fullback spot and the success Moncell Allen had playing it in the first game. Thanks to John Conner’s remarkable success with the Jets and his newfound “Hard Knocks” fame, Joker Phillips said that he was much more able to convince Moncell Allen and his small neck that he could be a star and make it to the next level by embracing the FB position. Allen responded by playing great against Louisville and blocking so well that it got a shout out from Rich Brooks on his Twitter machine. Phillips said that while it means less carries for Moncell, the FB position is becoming an important part of the UK offense and he thinks Allen has the ability to be special this year. Penn State can have Linebacker U…it may not be too long until Kentucky becomes Fullback U in the SEC.
(3): Joker also noted today something that we have talked a lot about on this blog over the last couple of months. He said that he is all about recruiting speed and he will take speed over a particular position or skill set any day. The reason for this could be seen at times in the game on Saturday. While Kentucky had a number of young players with little game experience in the game, with one notable exception (the Bilal Powell run that saw three UK Defenders take poor angles for a tackle) the UK speed allowed recovery even when they were in the wrong spot initially. That is part of how Joker sees UK being able to compete in the SEC. By matching (and exceeding) other teams’ speed, the players can then be allowed to make mistakes, play freer and still have the ability to recover and prevent big plays. We saw that on Saturday and with the recruiting we are seeing going forward, I think we will see it much more in the coming years.
(4): Finally some basketball news. Chane Behanan makes his official announcement tomorrow and all indications would seem to suggest it will be for the dirty Cards. He is making it just after his official visit to the school this past weekend and has been thought to be a UL lean for sometime. Kentucky has laid off recruiting Chane since the Wiltjer decision and it isnt clear whether he currently has an offer from the Cats. If he ends up joining the Cards, it will be an interesting addition to the class and a solid player for Pitino to build upon. But the key is still Quincy Miller…and as of yet, he has not pulled the trigger.
We have a big week ahead on here so make sure and stay tuned. In addition, a couple of special guests will join us on the radio, which you folks should like. If you missed the Turkey Hunter on air with me today, it was epic so make sure and get a download or subscribe on iTunes. Until then, the jersey I have always hoped to see for the Cats is now out. Men shouldnt wear basketball jerseys if they arent on the team, but if any ladies want to sport this one, I can almost guarantee a Fan of the Day. More later….