On December 10, 2000, LaVar Arrington of the Washington Redskins came flying toward the right sideline and hit Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman just after he released the football, slamming his head into the Texas Stadium turf and essentially ending the happiest era of my childhood. It was rookie vs. future Hall of Famer and the rookie won by TKO. Aikman’s career was over and the slow decline on my beloved Dallas Cowboys was thrust directly into rock bottom. It was over. And, sadly, it’s been over for a very long time. This fine Thursday marks the return of the NFL, which should be celebrated with great fanfare as grown men put on jerseys and flock to Buffalo Wild Wings in droves. But, for me, it’s just the start of another season in what has become a painfully disappointing existence as a Dallas Cowboys fan. The Cowboys have won exactly one playoff game since I’ve been able to legally operate a motor vehicle and now features the painfully unlikeable Tony Romo as the face of the franchise. I’d like to say that this year is going to be different. I’d like to pretend that I expect them to return to dominance behind the leadership of the one-time third-string quarterback. Instead, it’s probably just going to be another year of talking about how great the 90s were and being glad I’m not a Bengals fan. I’m rooting for a win against the Broncos Thursday night, but I’ll settle for 27 1/2 combined sacks from Jeremy Jarmon and Wesley Woodyard.
Now onto a few UK notes…
– The biggest news in the world of college athletics late Wednesday could have a major impact on the Kentucky athletics program. Multiple sources are reporting that Texas A&M is considering a move to the SEC, with Texas governor Rick Perry confirming he’s been told the same thing to ESPN. The Aggies have long been rumored as a potential option for the conference, should it plan to expand, and would most likely be part of a four-team addition that would create a 16-team conference. If the SEC does decide to expand, the focus would, of course, be on finding a quality football school with a competitive basketball team, but moreso creating a new market for the conference. Branching into Texas, as well as Oklahoma, if the rumors that OU and Oklahoma State are also on the radar are true, would add a significant target audience for the SEC. There are rumors that the Big 12 could look to replace the departed schools with a number of teams, including Louisville, but others suggest that they’d be content at staying at nine teams if only A&M jump the boat. You can expect more rumors to circulate over the next several days, but it’s clear that the Aggies are clearly agitated by the new Longhorn Network, which appears to have given Texas a huge advantage over the other schools in the Big 12. For the SEC’s part, expansion doesn’t seem to be necessary, but if the right pieces are available – and those three schools certainly appear to be very nice pieces – then what is there to lose? Maybe bowl eligibility for the Cats? We’ll have to wait and see.
– As Kentucky fans continue to wait somewhat patiently for the first 2012 commitment to fall into their laps, they were met with two pieces of big man news Wednesday that didn’t appear to be entirely promising on the surface. Andre Drummond, clearly the most talented big guy in the class, announced that he’d be attending prep school instead of re-classifying, seemingly cementing himself as an early entry into the 2012 NBA Draft. Though he listed Kentucky as one of the schools that he’s considering, the chances that Drummond ends up as a Cat remain very slim right now. On the flip side of that, one guy Kentucky has seemed to be sitting very nicely with, DaJuan Coleman, told Adam Zagoria that Ohio State has now caught up with Kentucky in his recruitment and he’ll likely visit both schools. Coleman said that Jared Sullinger and his basketball tattoo on his chest have been pushing after him hard for the Buckeys and he’s intrigued by what they do with their big men. I, like you, do not find anything intriguing about how their highly ranked big men go on to ride the pine in the NBA. But, hey, we were all kids once. He has plenty of time to sort it out.
– With the game between his Dominican team and the UK Pros at the Yum! Center less than a week away, Coach Cal pushed hard Wednesday to try to get the game sold out. I’ve been told that the tickets have actually been selling pretty well, especially considering the game in Lexington the night before sold out, but there are still plenty available for the August 16 battle at Ricky’s Chicken and Brothel. Kentucky has traditionally not sold out their Freedom Hall game, but not having it tied to a season ticket package and playing a weak opponent has often been cited as the reason for that. It will be interesting to see if Cats fans can make a push in the coming weeks to get the Yum! Center to maximum capacity, or at least very close to it for the exhibition.
– As sometimes tends to be the case during this part of the pre-season, Wednesday brought some turnover with the UK football team as Qua Huzzie announced that he would be transferring and Josh Gibbs will be giving up football. Gibbs’ departure will likely force someone to switch positions, possibly an offensive player, to help provide depth at the safety position. Meanwhile, Huzzie’s departure appears to be a simple case of not seeing himself fitting in on a newly revamped Rick Minter defense. Minter has made it clear since day one on the job that he expects to play a certain way on defense and guys need to have a certain mentality to be a part of what he is building. Considering the significant departure from the previous defensive strategy, I’m surprised we haven’t seen more turnover. Huzzie gave us one of the greatest pictures we’ve ever posted and for that, we’ll be forever grateful. But this is Nuclear Minter’s world right now. You’re either in or your out.
– To say that the NCAA is having some serious PR issues right now would be a massive understatement. So it’s not a shocker that they’re having some of their employees pop up on Twitter to maybe help spread their message or control stories that they think are inaccurate. That appears to be why Dana T has joined up on Twitter. Is she worth a follow? I wouldn’t rush out to sign up anytime soon. But there’s something about her bio that’s just so refreshingly reflective of the NCAA. She is a real person! With real feelings! Take it easy!!!!!
– Finally, on a completely unrelated note, congratulations to KSR reader Michael Clos for being named the funniest man in Cincinnati. Try not to enjoy it too much or they’ll send you to New England.
That’s it for now. Make sure you stick around all day as Matt tries to pull himself out of bed and take to the airwaves on Kentucky Sports Radio with John Calipariat 10am. Hopefully he can survive for the full two hours. In the meantime, pray for all the Cowboys fans you know. It’s going to be a long season.