It was exciting to watch Kentucky’s offense look (or at least in the vicinity of high powered) this weekend versus Kent State. But my enjoyment for the game was muted a bit by the news that one of the first KSR “celebrities”, OH Napier passed away in Breathitt County. Most of you probably don’t know the name OH Napier, and that is understandable. He was once a fixture on this site during its very early days, when most readers were either friends or family of the writers. (For an example of what KSR used to be like in those days, before we became corporate and started working for the man and the establishment, check out one of my favorite posts to ever write, the KSR PEOPLE OF THE DECADE post from Dec 31, 2009. Some great memories in there.) We discovered OH when we heard of a song he had written called “Tubby Can’t Coach.” It was a rant against Tubby and while I disagreed with the premise, I found OH amazingly entertaining. Then I discovered his propensity to make music, YouTube videos, and generally do ridiculous things, and we at KSR were hooked. Our posts about OH became the very first to ever get national attention (thanks to Deadspin and CBSSports.com) and it was conversations about OH that actually began my relationship with a number of national media writers. Over the years we followed OH, as he reported the news from his home, ran for Breathitt County Judge Executive (as a write-in candidate) and always cheered for the Cats, with his wife “Brown Eyes.” He also became a fan of KSR and one day wrote the only KSR theme song we have ever had. It is below, complete with a group of pictures of the site’s early days, and contains the only definitive KSR chorus:
Over the years, OH Napier fell into some bad health, but it didn’t stop him from making videos, including a weekly series on “the news in Breathitt County.” Here is one of his first newscasts, complete with a reference to an “unfortunate accident where a horse ran into a truck”:
In recent years, OH’s life saw its share of tragedy. His son died unexpectedly in a fire and health problems plagued him. But he still would cheer on the Cats and occasionally send me an email about his celebration of big victories. Last night a group of the site’s original writers, including Rob Gidel, Tomlin, Mosley and the Turkey Hunter, all engaged in a large group text about memories of those early days and OH’s carryings on, many of which can’t be repeated here. We all were saddened by his loss and will keep his family in our prayers. As his famous campaign song for County Judge Executive once went, “2, 4, 6, 8, who do we appreciate…O-H, O-H and Lacey Miller.”
To the news:
— While some remain full of negativity, most Kentucky fans considered Saturday night’s 47-14 win versus Kent State to be a huge positive. The offense once again looked explosive, with Max Smith giving signs that he could end up being the real deal as a Wildcat. UK drove the ball up and down the field and found huge success from its playmakers. Raymond Sanders (who was baptized today) broke a long run, Demarcus Sweat showcased his huge playmaking ability and some old names from the past, Aaron Boyd, Gene McCaskill and EJ Fields all made plays. It was an exciting and efficient performance that had Commonwealth buzzing. Defensively, we saw improvement, but still obvious issues that need to be corrected. Two long drives started the first and second half and Kent State was able to run at will. But in the 3rd quarter, Nuclear Minter FINALLY began to bring pressure and there was some signs of defensive life. The win doesn’t assure anything, but considering that Vegas only thought Kentucky would win by 7, winning by 33 shouldn’t be looked at as anything but a positive.
— In the aftermath of the game, the player that was the biggest story was of course, “All of my love, all of my kissin’, you don’t know what you’ve been a missin’ Oh Boyd.” Aaron Boyd has been the poster boy for disappointment for most of his UK career as he came in with a high expectations caused by the combination of a high recruiting ranking, hometown ties and a brother who was a former Cat. Until Saturday night, Boyd had not even come close to meeting the hopes, as he had career totals of 6 catches and 51 yards. But on Saturday, Boyd started and he performed. Double digit catches, over 100 yards receiving and big time plays when they were needed most made Boyd the star of the game. His brother Shane was in attendance, and watched as Aaron had a coming out party four years in the making. For those who have wondered when he would finally take off, it was great to watch Saturday as a feel good story hit Kentucky football.
— The crowd for the UK game was highly disappointing. It was announced as 48,000, making it the smallest crowd since 1996 and the smallest home opener since 1976. I will say however that while I am no crowd expert, I feel like I have seen smaller crowds over the years, but we go by the numbers they give us. The tailgate crowd started as SEVERELY disappointing, but got better as the day went on. Tara Bilby and JC Ausmus chronicled the tailgates for KSRCollege.com (you can see the pictures of UK fans doing their thing here and here. A few of the entertaining shots:
Stone Cold Willow and a guy trying to look into your soul:
The replica of Memorial Hall:
Bow ties for everyone!
— On the basketball side of things, the recruiting period is heating up for John Calipari. He said on the football game telecast (which by the way, looked to be recorded on a 1982 Betamax player) that he would be visiting 10 recruits over the next three days…a pretty amazing haul. We know he starts tonight with Julius Randle, who he was scheduled to visit at 8 pm. Calipari is getting the chance to do in-home visits for what may be the last time for a while (most of the future visits will be on campus) for the period that is known as “winning momma time.” Calipari is the best at this skill and the next three days will go a long way to determining if the Dream 2013 class can come to fruition.
— The UK NBA ALUMNI GAME is starting to take shape. We learned this weekend that Demarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Darius Miller and Nazr Mohammed all will be there. Also Doron Lamb and Eric Bledsoe are now likely to play, while John Wall will probably be in the building but unable to play. Plus Drake is a coach and there are other surprises to be seen. The 1996 team reunion is going to bring legends back to campus and the entire day should be a celebration of UK basketball, all the proceeds of which, will go to charity. John Calipari said today that tickets sales were a little slower early on than he had hoped, but was confident they would rise this week. I expect a good crowd by game time and a fun afternoon in Rupp this Saturday. For tickets click this link.
— Hats on Nerlens Noel make me laugh:
— Finally, Randall Cobb is a star. 224 all purpose yards, a punt return for a Touchdown and announcers praising his every move. The prettiest eyes in football also may be one of the more explosive players in the game in this his second season. I hate the Packers (Bears fan here), but love watching Cobb do his thing. Just as we were proud when Anthony got the gold medal, watching Cobb get stardom is a great thing for a UK fan to see.
We get back to it with radio in the morning. I start the John Calipari Fantasy Experience Camp on Thursday and we will have reports and more from the camp here this week. Until then, one final picture in tribute of OH, his most famous look, doing his thing while pickin’ and grinnin’.