(Via Dead Spin)
What’s left of the Big East is holding on for dear life. Despite Rick Pitino’s jabs toward other departing members earlier this year, Louisville made a break as soon as they got the chance. Louisville followed the lead of the other charter members of the Big East, bolting for greener pastures. Now another big shift has started to take shape in the Big East as the 7 Catholic, non-FBS schools reportedly decided to leave as well. The biggest loser in the grand scheme of things? UCONN. UCONN is the only remaining member of the original 1979-1980 basketball season. The original football teams have all left as well. A grand total of 17 schools have broken free from the Big East in the last 10 years. UCONN is left in a conference with virtually no football appeal at all. South Florida and Cincinnati are essentially the biggest 2 names left, and Cincinnati might be looking for a way out too.
For a school like UCONN, who has recently won national championships in both men’s and women’s basketball, the future of the conference has to be disheartening to say the least. The other conferences have plucked the schools they want, and UCONN seems to be the odd-man out. Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant took an interesting look at what the Catholic Schools of the Big East have done to “call the shots,” leading UCONN and the Big East to their current state. When the dust settles in the next few weeks, what will be left of the once almighty (at least in basketball) Big East? Looks to me like a glorified Conference USA.
News and views? Shall we?…
– The students of the University of Kentucky have been partaking in finals this week. As a result, the basketball news in particular has been very slow. The “Dead Week” for Kentucky basketball has left us with no mid-week game and very little news in general. John Calipari took the time to duck away to watch Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Eric Bledsoe square off head-to-head last night in NBA action. Both players were appreciative to see their old coach. Calipari seems to have taken some notes back to his players from the game as well… — The Harrison twins’ Travis team ended up the victor in an overtime thriller, 56-53. Aaron Harrison poured in 26 points, while is brother Andrew finished with 10 points. Aaron Gordon scored 14 points while receiving quite a bit of praise for his defensive efforts. Both of the Harrison twins were a bit hobbled with injuries. —- Mark Stoops had great things to say about both the Marrow and Scott hires.
“I’m very excited that Coach Marrow has joined our staff,” Stoops said. “His diverse experiences as a coach and NFL player will be invaluable to our players and our program. He also is a great recruiter, especially with his outstanding connections in Ohio.”
“I’m excited to have Chad join our staff,” Stoops said. “He has had tremendous success coaching in this system and his familiarity with Coach Brown, along with his experience with the Kentucky program, will help our transition with the team. He also is known as an outstanding recruiter and I’m confident he will help us in that area as well.”
— Kentucky’s new offensive coordinator Neal Brown paid tribute to Chad Scott’s recruiting prowess with his comments on the hire as well:
“Chad is a very detail-oriented coach and his players have been very productive at Troy and Texas Tech. His familiarity with the system is a great asset,” Brown said. “Chad is also a phenomenal recruiter. He does a great job building relationships with student-athletes, families and coaches.”
— Stoops has retained at least one former member of the Kentucky football staff in former UK quarterback Andre Woodson. Woodson will stay on staff as a graduate assistant, likely continuing to work with the quarterbacks. Stoops continues to build his staff with former Kentucky players. Woodson seems genuinely excited about the opportunity. “I think it’s an exciting time for everyone in the state right now,” Woodson told the Courier Journal. “The new staff seems to be very hungry. They’re excited to get out there on the recruiting trail and get us some talent. Everything we’ve seen so far is pointing toward an encouraging future.” — Speaking of the encouraging future, Stoops and his staff have already been making waves in the recruiting scene both locally and in Ohio. The Kentucky coaches have already been putting in some serious mileage, seemingly putting a big emphasis on the in-state talent (even those who were originally headed elsewhere). The impression this staff is giving shows that they are willing to go to bat with the perceived “bigger name” schools for the talented players. In case you need a few examples…
1. According to Cardinal Authority (a UL Scout website), U of L quarterback commit Kyle Bolin (Lexington Catholic) has picked up an offer from Kentucky.
2. Shelton Gibson, a 4-star wide receiver from Cleveland Heights, Ohio will be visiting Kentucky this weekend. The 6-1 WR in the 2013 class is rated as a Top 20 receiver in the nation. New assistant Vince Marrow is thought to be the key culprit behind Gibson’s immediate visit. According to Rivals, Gibson holds offers from Louisville, Nebraska, N.C. State, Ohio State and West Virginia.
3. UK has now offered Lovell Peterson, a 3/4 star DT from Huber Heights, Ohio. According to Rivals, Peterson is the 36th best available DT. Bill Greene, an Ohio recruiting analyst, reports that Kentucky had an in-home visit with Peterson tonight. He will take his official visit this weekend.
4. Anthony Siciliano, a 2014 quarterback from Orlando, Florida is also feeling the love from Kentucky. Siciliano was being recruited by Florida State, as well as a host of other schools including (according to Rivals): Oregon, Illinois, Mississippi State, Penn State and Tennessee.
— You know it’s a slow news day around here when you look to Tennessee’s wardrobe for interesting news. Between the basketball team’s warm-up uniforms and the inspired photo shop work for the announcement of the new football coaching staff, Tennessee gave us a few gems to work with this evening…
Exhibit #2, 3 and 4:
— And last but certainly not least, it’s hard to ignore the continued good deeds coming from one young man on the Kentucky men’s basketball team. From the moment he set foot on campus, Nerlens Noel has been going above and beyond when it comes to reaching out to the fan base. Noel is not required to do any of these things as a member of the Kentucky team. Noel is doing many of these things on his own time. Noel Skyped earlier this year with Lane Goodwin, a young Kentucky fan who battled cancer. Goodwin is unfortunately no longer with us, but Noel reached out to Goodwin and his family in his final weeks. Earlier this week Noel took time to visit some older Kentucky fans at a local nursing home. Today, Noel took time to visit a young child named Kelly. Kelly is currently in the UK Children’s Hospital with Leukemia. All I can say is that Nerlens Noel is making Big Blue Nation proud. What a neat moment for both Kelly and Nerlens Noel.
(Visit @KickinIt4Kelly to learn more about Kelly’s story)