You ever read an article that even after it is long finished, you can’t seem to stop thinking about it? Such has been the case for me since I finished this Grantland.com piece on the life struggles of Ric Flair. For those of you who don’t know Ric Flair, wrestling fans attachment to him may not make sense. Yes, we know the sport is fake and yes, we realize it is often ridiculous. But at times, wrestling can also be unbelievably compelling and entertaining. And there has been no one better at producing high quality wrestling entertainment better than Ric Flair. So when I read the above article and realized that in Charlotte alone, the last 15 years have seen Flair:
— be a part of three physical confrontations with three different wives (often on the receiving end)
— default on scores of debts, leaving himself over $1 million in the red
— watch his life completely breakdown to the point that he has to get back in the ring at the age of 62 in order to simply be able to live in a rented house.
Well I couldn’t get that story out of my mind. Ric Flair was the coolest. The “high flyin’, limousine ridin’, kiss stealin’, wheelin’ and dealin’ son of a gun” is now the real life embodiment of the movie “The Wrestler.” If you are now, or were ever, a wrestling fan, read the above article and tell me it won’t stick with you. I don’t exactly feel sorry for Flair, because most of the fault for his current state lies within himself. But it does still seem sad that a man who has entertained so many, can’t even afford to pay modest furniture bills at the age of 62.
On that bright note, four topics of news:
We have just undertaken a pretty monumental change in the day-to-day maneuvering of all things KSR. Beisner has moved to Kentucky and is now the daily producer for KSTV. Drew Franklin has become a full-time KSR employee, working on the blog and the tv show. And the site is now being run by the three of us, with a rededication to its founding roots. That means more absurdity, covering UK sports from a fan perspective, and pictures of Bruce Pearl photoshopped to the host of “Supermarket Sweep.” We also are going to be working on longer features and freeing but Beisner and Drew to do what they do best…write the funny, creative content that helped make this site grow. There is a (modest) site redesign coming in the next couple of weeks and the unveiling of a new KSR project as well. With three full time writers, a great staff of contributors and the new KSR “student reporter” team, the next season should be the best yet for getting UK news in the “most ridiculous manner possible.” And if it’s not, then you can have your money back.
FOOTBALL SEASON OPENING
With the beginning of the season now less than 48 hours away, everyone wants to know what team will show up on the field against Western Kentucky. A caller to my radio show complained about the lack of “practice information” on the site and that might be a fair complaint. So I was contacted by the one KSR spy that actually has had access to a couple of practices and this is what he emailed us about the team going into Thursday night (quotes are his, not mine):
— “I am not going to get too excited till I see him play/produce on the field, but Morgan Newton looks like a totally different QB than we saw vs Pitt. Hell, he has improved a bunch since I saw him this in spring practice. His mechanics look much improved and he threw a number of deep balls right on the money today. He missed a couple of underneath throws, but by and large he was very accurate throwing the ball and looked much improved in his overall game. Impressed.”
— “Now that Minter has taken over the defense you can clearly see a different style with the defense. There is a lot more movement along the line of scrimmage, more guys moving up and back trying to confuse the offense, and guys coming from every direction on blitzes. You can tell that a lot of the defensive guys are having fun with the new style of aggressiveness on the defensive side of the ball. I definitely think we are going to see a lot more sacks and TFL in the back field, but we are definitely going be leaving a lot of guys in the secondary on an island in coverage or have to make 1-on-1 tackles if they get past the initial line of defense. It could definitely set up for our “D” to give up some big plays if the initial sack or tackles are not made.”
— “The scout team was using Bookie Cobbins to run the ball as WKU’s Rainey. Defense was having to respond to him picking holes and running the ball as the RB. He also threw the ball a couple times, but not very accurately when he did. Cobbins is definitely very athletic and runs well with the ball, but if he ever wants to play QB at UK he has A LOT of work to do. In the end, I think he will be more in the mold of a Randall Cobb type where we use him as a WR, PR/KR, and wildcat formation type player. He is very multi-dimensional, but not in the QB mold I think UK is looking for, especially with the likes of Maxwell Smith and Patrick Towles being on the roster the next couple of years. We shall see.”
— LaRod King appears to be Morgan’s go-to receiver. Newton threw to him more than any other receiver. DeMarcus Robinson is a very good looking prospect. Looked good on a couple KR I saw them working on. I think he definitely gets in the mix at the WR spot sometime this year. Donte Rumph is a very big, good looking SEC type DL. Coach Turner was working very closely with him and making sure he understood each of his assignments during the DL walk thru stuff. Jordan Aumiller looks bigger. You can definitely tell he has added some good weight and strength. They also had Tyler Robinson split out wide a couple time at a WR slot. They want to get him and Aumiller involved where ever they can. Glenn Faulkner was running on the scout team(3rd string) but that has more to do with him missing some camp then lack of production. They are planning on him playing and contributing this year.
There you go…some practice notes
MIDNIGHT MADNESS TO BE MAD
What Calipari is doing here is unprecedented. Quite simply, he is bringing the best set of talent on campus at one time, potentially ever in college basketball. Think about this for a minute. Here is who has agreed to come so far (using Scout.com Rankings):
#1 Shabazz Muhammad
#11 Dajuan Coleman
#13 Archie Goodwin
#16 Alex Poythress
#22 TJ Warren
#28 Willie Cauley
#4 Andrew Harrison
#6 Chris Walker
#7 Anthony Harrison
- 2014 Class
#3 Dakari Johnson
Plus, I am told that at least two more members of the 2013 class are likely to join the group in the next week. That is without question, the best group of talent to ever visit Kentucky at one time, and it will be quite the showcase for the group. No one has ever really tried what Calipari is trying to pull off for this weekend. Lets just hope Madness is good. Does anyone have the number for those cloggers?
I spoke a bit about the controversy with the Kentucky student newspaper on the radio show today, but have generally tried to avoid discussion of what is clearly an “only in Kentucky would this be a big deal.” If you missed the chatter, a UK student reporter called the two UK walk-ons to confirm if they were indeed walk-ons. The players said yes, and then the reporter asked if he could interview them. That violates the UK policy preventing reporters from calling players to ask for interviews without going through the UK office. Dewayne Peevy, the SID at Kentucky then revoked the reporter’s access to a special session for the media today, in which a few reporters were allowed to talk to players for “season preview” additions of various outlets. The Kernel raised an objection (in the form of a manifesto/treatise that was approximately 56,000 words), the Herald Leader did a story and reporters on Twitter became outraged.
In the end, I do think this is much ado about nothing. The reporter, Aaron Smith, made a mistake and broke the rule. It thus isn’t surprising he would get some sort of punishment (remember my saying kids…”a rule is not a rule without punishment”). The Kernel objects to the rule, but in the end, without such a rule the players would get bombarded with interview requests. It is necessary. With that said, Aaron is a good guy and works hard and shouldn’t be berated for the mistake. Taking away today’s access might have been a bit harsh. However if I am correct, the Kernel had never been invited to this session until this year, so it isn’t like they lost anything they ever before had. Having attended the session, I would suggest that the biggest thing they missed was an unbelievable Chik-Fil-A sandwich that I had to eat with Alan Cutler staring longingly. The Kernel folks are outraged and see this as the journalistic equivalent of bringing down Communism, while reporters who know little about the story rallied to the youngsters’ defense. It took what should have been a little deal and made it huge, but that is the way we roll here in Kentucky. If it is about Kentucky basketball and can be blown out of proportion, the world will soon know.
But hey, at least we all now know that Brian Long and Sam Malone are the next names to live up to the Mark Krebs legacy. We come back in the morning with all the news and another exciting radio show where we hopefully will get a call nearly as good as the brilliant one by Fake Barney today.