Good morning, my beautiful KSR brothers and sisters, and welcome to a special edition of your Wednesday News and Views. Special not only for the blood, sweat and tears that have once again been shed in hopes of a fascinating piece, but special because today marks the 42nd anniversary of the “Game of the Century”. Most of you likely associate “Game of the Century” as being what Matt would need to possess to even have the slightest shot with ex-neighbor Kelly Kelly when, in fact, it’s an actual sporting event. College basketball to be exact. In 1968, #1 UCLA rode a 47-game winning streak into a rematch of the previous Final Four against #2 Houston in the ultra-plush and super techy Astrodome. The big story, though, was not the matchup between the Cougars’ Elvin Hayes and the Bruins’ Lew Alcindor. It was that, for the first time, a regular season college basketball game (this one, duh) was being broadcast nationwide in primetime. Prior to this game, only post-season games were seen nationally and showing a regular season game – no matter who it involved – was seen as a major financial risk. A guy named Eddie Einhorn (not sure if he’s related to Ira) purchased the rights to the game for $27,ooo and sold it to 120 stations nationwide, hoping to piggy back on a marketing blitz by the two schools billing the game as “The Game of the Century”. As far as the competition goes, it certainly didn’t disappoint as Elvin Hayes free throws with 2 min left, ending the Bruins’ streak and proving that the game was more than just a big payday (each team made $125k which was four times the NCAA tournament payout). But, the bigger story came after the game as it was apparent that college basketball had just entered a new era. The game lured 52,000 people to the Astrodome and a massive television audience, encouraging networks to take a shot on broadcasting college basketball (NBC would be the first to air the title game in 1969) and would eventually pave the way for March Madness, Courtside with Seth Davis and 24 hours of Lowell Galindo on ESPNU. And, as we all know, a .667 winning percentage is pretty good in this game.
Now, onto some quick notes on a somewhat newsy day….
– Not that we should be too surprised by this, but there was a record turnout at the student lottery on Tuesday night. Memorial Coliseum packed itself out, forcing hundreds of students to stand in aisleways. I believe this is the second time this year the “biggest crowd ever” has showed up for a lottery. It’s almost like people are excited or something.
– If you managed to get into Memorial Coliseum for the lottery, you also were let in on a little secret. The 1996 and 1998 championship teams will be at Rupp February 13 for College GameDay (and presumably the Tennessee game too). I was going to make a joke about the only person left that Cal hasn’t reached out to or spoken with is Adolp Rupp, but that’s not true either. This guy is all over it. Side Note: I’ll also be in attendance for this game and these a-clowns are finally going to let me be on a podcast. I hope you’re as excited as I am.
– I wouldn’t necessarily rate this at #3 in terms of importance, but while we’re talking about the lottery, we might as well bring this up. Kentucky quarterback wide receiver kick returner football player Randall Cobb tweeted this out Tuesday night:
Didn’t know the lottery for bball tix be like this- I hope to have operation win like this in a few years!
I’m only going to say this one more time (doubtful). How is “Operation: Win” slipping through the cracks? This could be the best UK phrase since “Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane”. Or, at least since “pooping ice cream”.
– I think we’ve all been debating and discussing this with our friends lately and, today, ESPN’s Chad Ford let us all in on a little secret. Eric Bledsoe might be the second-best point guard prospect in college basketball. While Ford did say scouts think he could drastically improve his stock with at least one season A.W., he still ranks him #20 on his draft board and says scouts are falling in love with him.
– As part of my final day of paternity leave, I again subjected myself to a never-ending cycle of ESPN programming. This paid off handsomely Tuesday evening when PTI spoke for roughly 30 seconds about who would win if the New Jersey Nets played Kentucky. The incredibly overrated Tony Kornheiser (yeah, I said it Matt) immediately dismissed it and said the Nets would win by 20 points every time and Wilbon said something pointless afterward that involved comparing the Nets to the Dream Team. As you can tell, it was riveting television. I should have stuck with Holmes on Homes.
– I have to admit that I’ve been following Tennessee basketball now more than ever. I wasn’t surprised by the early top-10 ranking or the slew of arrests, but this “play as a team, achieve as a team” thing is blowing my mind. The Vols beat Alabama Tuesday, continuing their undefeated run without Tyler Smith and Brian Williams. I keep telling people that they’re just playing on emotion and it will all level out here pretty soon….but they’re really playing well. Next week’s games with Vandy and Florida might be where the bottom falls out. Or, it might just solidify them as a team more. I really don’t know what to say about this team right now.
– On another Tennessee note, though, Pat Forde had a pretty funny blurb in his ESPN column Tuesday. When running through all the excitment in Knoxville after the Vols beat Kansas, Forde presented the ultimate “You know how I know you’re a women’s basketball school?” moment. The Tennessee store started selling everything but their sister’s welfare check, including a photo captioned “Hobson Battles for a Bucket”. I know a lot of people reading this don’t get that joke. They’re the same ones that want to know about Darnell Dobson’s shot or Darren Lamb’s recruitment.
– A small note from the SEC Coaches Teleconference this week that flew under the radar some…Mississippi State expects a ruling on Renardo Sidney soon. You would have to assume that it would take somewhere between 20 and 700 Randolph Morris faxes to clear Sidney but, since they face the Cats on Feb. 16, it bears watching. Especially if you’re a certain beat writer who picked them to win the SEC.
– Hey, speaking of The Good Doctor, he told Seth Davis on this week’s episode of Courtside that “John Wall might win National Player of the Year but you could argue that he’s not even the best point guard in the SEC” and then went into his little blurb on Devan Downey. In Tipton’s defense, he’s right that you could make that argument. You’d be horribly wrong, but you could technically make that argument. Unless you didn’t have a tongue or arms or legs and didn’t know how to communicate through winking.
– If there was one publication that you’d expect to have at an Arkansas vs. Kentucky basketball game, that would have to be The New Yorker, right? The New Yorker is on the media list for Saturday’s game, which is a drastic change from the Louisville game when The New Yorker was on the prowl for after hours cougar meat.
– And, finally, SEC football stole some headlines in a less-than-ideal fashion Tuesday as Mississippi State found themselves in strip club recruiting trip mess and a University of Florida broadcaster was hit with federal child pornography charges. This, of course, explains why Tiger Woods awoke from his nap in his Mississippi sex rehab facility to people chanting “S-E-C! S-E-C! S-E-C!”.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned throughout the day as we provide you with either the greatest website content in the history of the world or some mediocre UK sports reporting. No matter what, you’ll get your money’s worth. See you in a few…