Time for a confession…being named Matt Jones has started to become much more difficult. For most of my life, the only famous Matt Jones was the coke-head Arkansas QB, turned Jacksonville Jaguar bust, and thus the name was pretty innocuous. But now, things are changing and changing quickly. There is currently a PGA Tour golfer, British singer, Freshman Running Back at Florida and incoming Duke basketball recruit, all of which share my common, yet somehow haunting name. And that is not to mention my favorite non-me Matt Jones, the great Badger from “Breaking Bad.” From the first episode in which he which he was arrested for screwing up a sale, Badger has been one of my favorite secondary “Breaking Bad” characters and following around his various poor attempts at success is enjoyable. Sharing the same name was ultimately of little consequence, as his star power was so low that very few could have identified him even at a Matt Jones reunion. But not now. This weekend it was announced that this Matt Jones will play Dwight Schrute’s other cousin in a new spinoff of “The Office”, thus raising his visibility. While the show is likely to tank (it has “Joey” written all over it), it is yet another Matt Jones taking over the scene, making the name his own and screwing up Twitter/Google searches for eternity.
To ten things you need to know before Monday begins:
1. 6 Days from The Rivalry Game: After an offseason of complaints and grumbling, the UK football season will now begin, whether you are ready or not. The Cats have had the most positive fall camp that I can remember and there is an aura of quiet confidence coming from Lexington. Thankfully, no one is predicting a win (that would be guaranteed disaster), but you can sense from those around the program that everyone believes the team will be better. Whether “being better” will be enough remains to be seen, but I am slowly becoming more confident for Sunday as well. I said for weeks on radio that beginning August 1, I would predict a win. I did just that, but I didn’t really believe it…but now I am starting to come around. Maybe saying 21-17 Cats is foolish, but tis better to believe and be disappointed than be cynical and correct.
2. Phil Steele Picks the Cats: If you have been around these parts very long, you have heard us mention the name Phil Steele. He is my college football guru and his picks on the sport are likely the best in the nation. I received my copy of Phil Steele’s Week 1 Newsletter on Saturday, and much to my surprise, but the Cats were featured prominently. Kentucky (+14) were picked as Phil’s “Underdog Play of the Week” and he even went so far as to pick Kentucky 21-20 straight up over Louisville. The latter may seem like a stretch, but the former is a good bet in my view. Over the last five years, I have found Steele’s predictions during the first three weeks of the season to be stunningly accurate. On Week 1 every year, Hubby and I usually rack up in college football gambling, primarily by following his instinct. Reading his thoughts on the Cats made me even slightly more confident about next weekend.
3. Louisville Hate Day: We are now just three days from everyone’s favorite holiday, #LouisvilleHateDay. It is without question, our most creative day of posts of the year and this one is shaping up to be the best yet. There will be appearances by Turkey Hunter, Tomlin, Not Jerry Tipton and other KSR stars, and a number of posts by our man Drew Franklin that are…well, they will be legendary. Having seen some of what is ahead, I know you will be excited. What we need from you is simple…(1) come to the site early and often…but (2) Louisville Hate Day is what it is by your participation. If you have fan photos of UL folks that we dont already have (meaning dont send the Crown Royal guys, pink tank top guy, etc), then email them to us at [email protected] or [email protected] Time is approaching, and hating Louisville will never be so much fun.
4. Iconic Photos: As part of our Louisville Hate Day preparation, Drew and I have been looking through iconic photos and searching the web for pictures from the past. One I discovered that I did not know existed, is the picture below from Japan. It is of a Japanese student moments before he kills the leader of the Japan Socialist Party in an assassination attack. It really has nothing to do with anything Kentucky sports related, but hey, it felt like the kind of thing I needed to include:
5. Elite 24 and Harrison Twins: In case you missed it this weekend, 11 UK targets were in action at the Elite 24 game in California. Very little of interest happened, but Julius Randle did win the dunk contest in explosive fashion. Most of the players said the right thing, but Randle and Aaron Gordon in particular gave positive comments about Kentucky and the possibility of going to Lexington. Randle’s coach once again shot down the “Julius won’t play with the Harrison Twins” rumor, saying that their competitive nature would be a benefit for UK if all show up. But showing up will be required and this weekend Dave Telep suggested that the Harrison Twins may be more torn than we originally thought. Telep said on ESPN that Maryland is making a “strong push” for the Twins and are slowly catching up to the Cats. Who knows if he is correct, but the decision will be made October 29th, so we will have two more months of UK-Maryland speculation…followed by the game between the two teams after the Twins make their decision.
6. Kyle Wiltjer Continues to Improve: All summer, we have heard about Kyle Wiltjer improving his quickness and defense as he gets ready for a much more prominent role on this year’s team. This weekend however, Wiltjer was in Canada, working out for the Canadian National Team. John Calipari tweeted that he heard good things about Wiltjer’s play and that the officials were pleased with his performance. I have said this numerous times, but I expect Wiltjer to have some games where he puts up HUGE points this year. Consistency will be an issue, but when Kyle gets hot, and is surrounded by the athletes who can draw double teams…he will explode for some big numbers.
Here is a marriage proposal at the Craft Center. I think she said yes:
7. Alumni Game Sets up Kentucky Saturday: Some UK media types who tend to be very pro-football have complained about the timing of the UK Alumni Game on Sept 15 at 2 pm. They have suggested the game may take away from the UK-Western football game that night and have wondered if Calipari could have scheduled a different day. Here is the reality about the football game. The attendance was/is going to be low either way. I actually think the Alumni game may slightly help, bringing more people to town who might then decide to stick around, tailgate and watch football. It will be an excellent 1-2 punch of a day and in the end, raise money for charity. Football attendance will only be affected negatively by the product on the field..that is not Calipari’s responsibility.
8. Story to Read to Start Your Day: Any fan of UK basketball from the 1990s knows the long history the program has had with Rick Majerus. Rick was unlucky enough to play Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament five straight years, losing to the Cats in all five. He did however see his team play Kentucky in the National Championship game and came close to giving Utah a miraculous national title. Now, 14 years later, his health and life seem to be in the balance. St Louis Dispatch writer Bernie Miklasz, has an extremely moving column today about Majerus’s health situation that has caused him to step down from St Louis for the season. It is a moving read and definitely worth checking out as you start your Louisville week.
We get going on radio at 10 am tomorrow, talking all things UL-UK and putting our attention on the Dirty Birds taking a loss and causing #LineBeardSadness. This is going to be a good week…I can feel it.