Now this is a news and views honoree we can all toast to.
Friday is National Bourbon Day, which has to be one of the best random holidays ever made. As Kentuckians, one of the things we hang our Derby hats on is that delicious amber liquid made from corn, yeast, grain and water. Wherever you go in the world, Kentucky is identified for basketball, bourbon, horses and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Those are our things, and we do them well. In the past few years, we’ve become especially famous for bourbon, as the perfectly potent potable has gone through a major boom in popularity. For a variety of reasons, bourbon has become downright trendy recently, to the point that bourbon bars are popping up in every neighborhood and the chances of getting your hands on a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle are about as good as getting season tickets to UK Basketball.
This past weekend, I had a bit of a bourbon snob moment when I went to Philadelphia for a wedding and ordered an Old Fashioned from the open bar. When asked which “whiskey” I preferred, I asked which bourbons they had, only to be told that my only option was Jim Beam. As a Kentucky native and resident of a city that likes to pretend it’s in Kentucky when it comes to drinks and college basketball, I will admit that I sniffed a little bit. Not only because of the Jim Beam, it’s fine, but how is an open bar at a very nice wedding only going to stock one bourbon?? Don’t get me wrong, this particular bar was STOCKED with about everything else (multiple vodkas, gins, and beers on tap!), but not even one bottle of Makers or Woodford in the bunch? Sigh. The North.
I digress. Bourbon rocks, but it’s even better neat. Raise your glass and toast to the national holiday that really, only the citizens of this fine state can truly appreciate. Cheers.
— On Thursday, we waited for the BOOM, and on Thursday at 5:15 p.m., it finally came. Stanley BOOM Williams committed to Kentucky, moving the 2014 recruiting class up to THIRD IN THE NATION. In football. (To all those negative nancies that want to go off on your “it’s early and that ranking means nothing, we will end out of the top 25” rant, please move on. I realize it’s early, but it’s also awesome, and we’re going to enjoy it because it’s FREAKING AWESOME. …off the soapbox.) Boom (as he will be referred to from now on) is a former Georgia commitment who is ranked the number one all-purpose back in the nation, and the 96th best player overall, according to Rivals. At #96, Williams is UK’s highest-ranked commitment since Micah Johnson in 2006.
He’s small, but fast, with a 4.39 40 and an explosiveness and elusiveness that will flourish in the Air Raid. He picked the Cats over the likes of Clemson, West Virginia, LSU, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and other major programs. Plus, he’s from Georgia, an area in which the staff would really like to expand. Boom told Steve Jones of the Courier-Journal that his commitment rendered Mark Stoops speechless: “Coach Stoops was blown away (by commitment). He didn’t believe it. He was at a loss for words.”
— This has been one hell of a week for Kentucky football. This week alone, they’ve racked up:
4-star DE Denzel Ware (fine, that was technically Sunday)
3-star DB Mike Edwards
4-star DB Darius West
3-star LB Nico Firios
4-star RB Stanley Williams
The momentum in UK football right now is so surreal that the only thing I can compare it to is watching the dominos fall in Cal’s 2013 class. It may be early, and the Cats will surely be surpassed in the rankings by others, but the national media is picking up on the scent of what’s going on in Lexington. Even Clay Travis paid the Cats a backhanded compliment, saying that if Stoops keeps this up, then USC will pick him up after just one year. While that type of comment is so Clay Travis that it might as well have a beard and a blog full of bikini pictures, it’s indicative of the changing attitude towards Kentucky football. We may not win many games next season, but the season after that, watch out. As Drew Barker said, they’re not messing around and “Kentucky is the hottest team on the recruiting trail right now.” In another little mini-dose of reality, while Kentucky has the third best class in the country, it only has the third best in the SEC. #SECproblems
— In a move that some many say is right out of Billy Gillispie’s playbook, Mark Stoops and company offered a 7th grader a scholarship. Louisville’s Jairus Brents recently played in one of UK’s camps and was so impressive that the UK’s coaches offered him a scholarship. For the record, that will be the first one they’ve offered to a member of the Class of ’18 (**obligatory “I feel old” moment**). Apparently, Brents is worth it. He was paired with the 2014 receivers in attendance and had three interceptions and broke up several other passes. Chris Vaughn, a former Louisville and Notre Dame player, is Brents’ godfather and says that his godson is “light years” ahead of 2013 prospects Jason Hatcher and James Quick, with several head-to-head matchups with the latter.
Does it seem a little extreme to me that UK is recruiting a 13-year-old? Yes. But, as Thaddeus Snodgrass put it, “If the 7th graders nice why not offer him?”.
— Orlando Antigua’s new job as the head coach of the Dominican Republic National Team became official on Thursday. Coach O, a DR native, takes over the position from John Calipari, who had nothing but glowing things to say about his successor:
“I’m happy for Orlando and this opportunity to lead the Dominican Republic national team,” Calipari said. “I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish over the past two years, getting this country to the brink of its first-ever Olympic appearance. I’m confident with the experience he has that Orlando will build on the team’s success and take it to new heights.”
Coach O will report to the DR training camp at the beginning of August before his team takes the floor for a pair of exhibition contests against Puerto Rico on Aug. 14 and Aug. 16. From there, the Dominicans will play in the Jenaro “Tuto” Marchand Continental Cup from Aug. 22-26 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
— Nerlens Noel finally signed with an agent on Thursday night. Frank Catapano of Pro Partner Sports Management and Andy Miller of ASM Sports will represent Nerlens, who works out for the Washington Wizards on Friday.
— On Thursday, Chris Tomlin turned in another masterpiece that got a spirited discussion going in the comments section about which SEC mascot is higher on the foodchain (apparently people have a LOT of opinions on animal hierarchy). EDSBS’s Spencer Hall had a similarly funny piece about how Kentucky’s Wildcat mascot needs to be more intimidating. My favorite suggestions: “tape a bunch of insanity DVDs to him.”
That’s all for now as we wind down from another thrilling round of Yahtzee. In the morning, Matt and crew will host the “First Couple of UK Trivia” contest during the radio show to find the most knowledgable couple in UK sports. Hopefully they can name all of the Unforgettables. See you then.