Good evening, friends and foes of Kentucky Sports Radio, and welcome to your May 1st, 2012 edition of the News and Views. Tonight, we salute One World Trade Center, the lead building of the World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan that just surpassed the Empire State Building as New York City’s tallest structure. On Monday, just one day before the anniversary of Osama Bin Laden’s death, construction workers added steel columns to the unfinished frame that brought the building’s total height to just over 1,250 feet. That’s a couple feet higher than the rooftop of the Empire State Building’s observation deck.
One World Trade Center, formerly known as the Freedom Tower, will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the third-tallest building in the world once it is completed in 2013. When the spire is in place atop the building, 1 WTC’s pinnacle height will reach a symbolic 1,776 feet in reference to the year this great country was founded.
I visited the site back in November when Kentucky was in town to beat Kansas and it is an unbelievable sight to behold. Not only is its record-breaking size and construction remarkable, but its significance and tribute to those lost on 9/11 makes it a truly special place right in the heart of the world’s greatest city. I encourage all of you to take an afternoon to visit if you’re ever in the Big Apple.
The big news on Monday came from Frankfort, where a state audit unveiled a long list of misconduct from former Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer. The 150-page report included findings of controversial spending, poor personnel management, time and travel concerns, using state employees and money for personal projects, and an extravagant conference that cost Kentucky taxpayers $96,000 and had less than 200 attendees. Farmer had his staff order excessive numbers of gifts, including rifles, rifle cases, knives, cigar boxes, shopping mall gift cards and watches for the 2008 SASDA (Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture) conference that was attended by just 12 other commissioners. The excess gifts were taken to Farmer’s home after the conference.
Careless spending by politicians happens everywhere at every level, so it’s tough to condemn Farmer for all of the findings, but a couple of instances from the investigation are just a complete embarrassment to the administration. The story of Farmer having state employees take him hunting is the worst in my eyes, especially since he reportedly shot a deer from inside a state-issued vehicle and then ordered the staff member to bag the animal for him. He also ordered an employee to leave a training course at a local university to drive him to a outdoorsman store Indiana.
Farmer’s personal backyard basketball court — installed by state employees with $900 worth of concrete from a vendor — also jumps off the pages of the report. As does the four missing laptops (purchased as upgrades for state employees), the rush delivery of a 60-inch television for his personal office during March Madness, and the $60,000/yr. job for his girlfriend, who co-workers say rarely does any work.
The misbehavior by Farmer during his eight-year tenure is a slap across the faces of taxpayers, the same people who loved and idolized him as homegrown basketball star in Kentucky. He was elected to office based on his popularity and then abused his power for his own personal gain and enjoyment. His legacy will now be defined as a corrupt politician, rather than Mr. Basketball from Clay County with 898 career points for the Kentucky Wildcats. What a shame.
Now, let’s move on to the positive news from around Kentucky basketball, including a possible addition to the 2013-2014 roster. 2013 wing Troy Williams is ready to announce between Kentucky and North Carolina and he’ll do so on Tuesday afternoon. But unlike most top recruits, the No. 7 player in the country won’t need an ESPNU special with Dari Nowkhah or a press conference from his high school; he will announce via Twitter.
After hitting a game-winner at the Nike EYBL Hampton over the weekend, Williams told Evan Daniels of Scout.com he likes Kentucky’s get-up-and-down style and he has a good relationship with Coach Cal. He said the very same thing about North Carolina and Roy Williams.
It’s crazy that a top 10 player is about to announce between Kentucky and one other school and there really isn’t much excitement surrounding it. That’s because the class of 2013 is loaded with talent and Cal is involved with the best of the best. Williams will likely pick UNC — his uncle Boo let it slip in an interview — and it won’t hurt the Cats one bit if he does.
If you thought Arizona had an advantage in landing Mark Lyons because of his relationship with Sean Miller, well, you were wrong. Lyons told Adam Zagoria’s that he’s focusing on three schools and there is no favorite in the group. He said Arizona doesn’t have an advantage “at all.” The junior transfer is focused on finals right now and plans to take visits to Kentucky, Arizona, and Kansas when he’s finished. He said he’s going into the recruiting process with open eyes and he’s doing to do whatever is asked of him by the school he commits to.
The news on Anthony Bennett is there is no news on Anthony Bennett. Although he is expected to cut his list to two or three schools this week and finally start taking his visits next week.
Kentucky’s third recruiting option at power forward may end up not being an option at all. Virginia Tech’s Montrezl Harrell still hasn’t asked for his release from the Hokies, and there is a chance he could stay put now that former assistant coach James Johnson is back in Blacksburg to fill Seth Greenberg’s shoes. Johnson, who quit two weeks ago for Clemson, wasn’t the main recruiter in Harrell’s recruitment but he could be just enough to get Harrell to stick around.
You can plead all you want for the basketball rivalry with Indiana to continue, but it’s close to coming to an end, regardless of how much the 56-game battle means to you. Most of Big Blue Nation believes it would be a sin to discontinue the annual game with the Hoosiers; that same group of people don’t have a say in the matter, unfortunately. It all boils down to revenue and neither side is caving on the dispute. Kentucky is even willing to play on Indiana’s side of the river every year in Indianapolis, so long as it’s a 50/50 ticket share, but the Indiana administration is adamant on playing in Bloomington. If neither side gives in, we’ve seen the last of the Cats and Hoosiers, for at least the next few years.
To those arguing Kentucky needs Indiana on the schedule next year from a competition standpoint, keep in mind that Kentucky already has non-conference games against Duke, Louisville, Maryland, a road game in the SEC/Big East Challenge, and an undetermined slate of games in one of those weekend invitationals. UK doesn’t need the game to improve its strength of schedule. The Cats aren’t afraid either. It’s just all about the money.
How about Rick Pitino saying he doesn’t read the Courier-Journal because he’s upset with what they write? That makes all of us.
Kentucky baseball is now tied with LSU and South Carolina atop the SEC standings. The third-ranked Bat Cats‘ next series will be at home against Florida this weekend, with the first game of the series being televised nationally on ESPNU on Thursday night. Florida trails Kentucky and South Carolina by two games in the SEC East.
This Derrick Rose/Titanic mashup is Monday’s winner:
That’ll do it for now. Be back here at 9:00 a.m. when we get the party started again.