After a night spent watching the final days of the Olympics (Walsh and May wearing white bikinis in the rain couldnt have been a coincidence could it?), it is time to get seriously focused on sports on this side of the Pacific. Football is just around the corner, but before we get there it is time for one of those joyous internet treats…..the live commitment. Today at 10:30 AM, Morgan Newton will pick the college of his choice and officially announce whether he will be the second five star QB in America to join the Kentucky roster this year. If he does, it will be yet another recruiting coup for the Cats and one that will have Rich, Joker, Randy and the boys all celebrating their unbelievable abilities. We will have coverage on here as soon as it happens, but the anticipation got me to thinking about great commitment days of the past.
In fact, if you are looking at the Top 5 days of traffic in Kentucky Sports Radio history, three of the five have been on commitment days:
(1) Patrick Patterson Commits
(2) Billy Gillispie named Coach
(3) Tubby Smith leaves
(4) Jai Lucas makes decision
(5) Chris Singleton makes decision
In the internet world, games dont mean as much as recruiting decisions as even the biggest tournament days pale in comparison to a good off-the-court story. Of course the biggest commitment day in recent memory was the day of Patrick Patterson. With hype that was unprecedented, and likely will never be matched, Patterson ended a year-long recruiting odyssey by picking the Cats over Duke and Florida, as we broadcasted the decision live via cell phone to a radio audience. I still believe there may never be a day quite like that again with the UK fanbase. With a new coach and a player that was ranked nationally and centered just on the border, I remember seeing obvious looks of pain on UK fans’ faces that morning and lunch as we waited on the decision. As it approached in the afternoon, our server was crashed with the visitors and productivity in the state screached to a halt. The moment Patrick put on that ugly brown hat, an erruption of joy like none other signaled that UK basketball was indeed still on the map.
But Patterson hasnt been the only big decision. While some commitments come out of nowhere, some come from the dreaded “press conference”, where all eyes await the picking of a hat in a far away place. In basketball, do you remember the day that Randolph Morris committed to UK over Georgia Tech? How about the day that Darius Rice shocked the world by picking Miami over Kentucky? I knew the Cats had lost Jai Lucas when he didnt give an early call he promised if the Cats were the choice, making his press conference a dreaded affair. Chris Singleton made his “call” with all Cats fans waiting and the scoundrels at FSU pulling a fast one yet again.
Football has recently seen its share of big moments as well. In the famous Class of 2006, Josh Minton, Corey Peters and Micah Johnson all had their moments and all ended up with big-time success for the Cats. Those guys were the foundation of a new era in UK recruiting and after schools like Virginia Tech, Ohio State and Notre Dame were rejected by each kid respectively, you knew the Cats were about to make some noise. Recently, we had the case of Sam Simpson, a relatively unknown center to most fans, whose commitment still generated high levels of excitement and the most web traffic since the spring basketball commitments.
These commitment days are great, because you can always count on a few things: (1) Multiple people guaranteeing a result early on and saying “trust me” (2) Multiple fans saying they “cant take this anymore” (3) old fogies complaining about kids “with too much ego” wanting to have press conferences and (4) this site breaking down our server at some point due to the traffic. While these days often provide the most frustration (as I try to convince our web hosts that “yes, we get six figure traffic, but no I will not pay for a commercial server, and yes I expect you to allow me to continue paying almost nothing in hosting fees and oh yeah, would you please get the site back up immediately before I have to stick Hubby on you”), they also are the most fun as we find out who the new generation of UK players will be.
So today is another big commitment day….and this time it is football. Potentially the highest rated UK football QB recruit since….well, two weeks ago, is picking his school. UK may be the choice. If that doesnt get you excited, well then you are in the wrong place.