As I was searching the internet for our featured person of the day, I realized that today’s birthdays bring a unique twosome together. In my opinion, the two most important figures in the communication medium I like the most (radio) of the past 25 years are Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh. And bizzarely, both share the same birthday, today. Rush is 58 and Howard is 55. My soul cant take writing about Rush (although I noticed for the first time that he has a chip implanted in his head to help him hear…that is quite bizarre and intriguing), so we will talk Howard. Stern’s birthday is just a week before my mom’s birthday and they are the same age…a fact that has continually blown my mind since I discovered it about 7 years ago. He was the creator of most of what passes for modern “entertainment” radio and his movement to satellite radio is probably all that kept that form of broadcasting viable. At various times in my life, I go through Stern phases where I listen to him a great deal and my friends (usually the Turkey Hunter and Jason Miller) and I talk about the goings on of all things Stern. I am not in one of those phases now so I have missed his rantings for the past year or so. But regardless, he (along with Tony Kornheiser and Ron and Fez) remains the only national radio I consider to be great and has been a constant source of entertainment for me over the years. And yes, I do have a signed copy of a Beetlejuice DVD to prove it. Happy Birthday to Stern and sign on for a couple more years before you quit.
Lets update the (three) big sports:
The Cats get ready for what once was the hardest game of the year in the SEC, playing on the road in Gainesville versus Florida. The Gators have had a rough go of it at times this season, but do hold the one victory this year over Michigan State, so you cant write them off from producing a great performance. Most of the Kentucky media members I have spoken with believe this will be loss #1 for the Cats. I am not feeling this as the first loss, primarily because of the lack of an inside presence from Florida. The Gators have always been soft, but are especially so this year, at a time that Kentucky is rough and large down low.
What the Cats do have to do is change the tide of games against the Gators. While UK has won the last two in Rupp, they havent won a game in Gainesville since 2004 and have lost 8 of the last 10 to the Gators. Now granted, most of those games are ancient history at this point, but the title of “King of the Hill” in the SEC needs to be permanently reclaimed and a victory at Florida would go a long way to showcasing that the tide has turned back in favor of the Big Blue.
There was no real news from the Calipari press conference except his announcement of his “first 7 rotation for the upcoming SEC games. He said that Deandre Liggins will join Daniel Orton and the starters as the primary seven and that he needs more production from guys 8-10, presumably meaning Harris, Dodson and Stevenson. It has always made me laugh to hear Calipari talk about his primary rotation, as he never mentions Harris in particular, but nearly every game he is either the first or second guy off the bench. I expect he will also get playing time in the hostile environment on the road at Florida.
The larger point however is that there could be a real battle brewing between Miller and Liggins for the starting nod. Both players have the potential to have elite talent and both have struggled at times to reach their full ability. For Miller, he may be feeling Liggins breathing on his neck, as his increased play on offense has allowed Calipari to consider placing him in the starting lineup. If Miller does not contribute more on offense, he will not play as his defense is not in the ballpark of Liggins or Harris. The gauntlet has been sent down for Darius and these next two road tests will be big for his rest of the season.
I will not claim to know much about the coaching abilities of Kentucky’s two new coaching pickups (Mike Summers as the OL coach and David Turner as the DL coach), but I will say that both illustrate that Joker means business at UK. He essentially got two position coaches in the SEC to make parallel moves to another team in the conference. That is somewhat of a rarity in college football, especially when the move is not necessarily one that looks upward in terms of program strength. Mississippi State and Arkansas basically compete with Kentucky, South Carolina and Ole Miss for the middle tier of the SEC. To take two of their position coaches, when both were not being forced out, but rather were wanted for retention by their schools…well that is quite impressive.
In Summers’ case, his connection to Kentucky (he is Joe B Hall’s son in law) has to certainly be part of the decision. But the get of Turner is very impressive in its own right. Turner is considered to be a good recruiter and a great position coach and Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen did not want to see him go and tried to give counteroffers to make him stay. Such a steal is impressive. Will these coaches be upgrades over those let go? Who knows? But both show that Joker means business.
Finally, a big shoutout to the UK Hoops team as they are making waves in the SEC. They easily could have won their SEC opener on the road in Athens (losing in overtime) and beat Vanderbilt this past weekend, for the first victory over the ‘Dores since 2003. The UK women have only lost two games and set up to make the NCAA Tournament if they can have a good conference season. We hope to liveblog a couple of games and talk more about them as the year goes on. Coach Matthew Mitchell is doing a great job and fans should go and see them during their Thursday-Sunday games this year.
More all day as we countdown to the Florida game at 9 pm and LIVE BLOG at 8:30.