Back to the night post for me for the first time in nearly two months. The Super Bowl is now over and the Green Bay Packers beat down Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers in a relatively entertaining game that I only half-watched. I was pleased to see the win for Green Bay punter and former Cat Tim Masthay “If Ya Nastay”, who becomes the first redheaded former UK special teamer to ever win a Super Bowl ring (I have no idea if that is true, but lets just roll with it). Masthay had a great year, kicking it far and not getting hurt, a deadly combination that helped contribute to the Cheesehead glory. Tim is from all indications a great guy and I love to see someone from the UK football family have success. While he hasnt entertained me the most of anyone around UK football this week (that honor goes to Theltus “Bookie” Cobbins, who is going to be the most entertaining UK football personality in a long time…wait and see), he did give me at least a small rooting interest in a game that otherwise carried little for me. Five important thoughts about the Super Bowl however:
— There will never be a more random group of people in an owner’s box than what we saw on Sunday night. George W Bush, John Madden, Condi Rice, Ashton Kutcher, Michael Douglas, Emmitt Smith and Jesse Jackson, all sitting within two rows of each other….awesome.
— The best commercials were the NFL gear on tv characters and the Eminem Chrysler commercial. Darth Vader as a kid was ok, but the Chevrolet one was produced as impressively as any I can remember seeing. As for the Doritos one, it had the fingerprints of something BTI would do all over it.
— The music acts hurt me to see. Christina has a great voice, but she mangled the words and looks like she ate the 1999 version of herself. And the Black Eyed Peas…well that was just atrocious. Why not get Jay Z, Eminem, Kanye, Drake, etc and go in that direction if you are trying to be relevant? Fergie and the Peas need studio enhancement and that doesnt come through live. It hurt me to listen to.
— The pregame show was wayyyyyyy too long but did include O’Reilly getting his rude on with the President. Everyone knows I like Obama but a text I got from a good friend who is a hardcore GOPer sums up how terrible O’Reilly looked. “O’Reilly found a way to be so arrogant that it made my least favorite person seem likeable….nice job Bill.”
— If there is ever a moment in my life where I am on television being fed popcorn by my girlfriend, please make fun of me mercilessly. Because I know that I did it to A-Rod tonight.
Only two stories really matter tonight, so lets hit them quickly:
MITCH BARNHART CONTRACT EXTENSION:
I wanted to wait and deal with this later this week, but we went ahead and pulled the trigger tonight. Two sources told KSR today that Mitch is working on a contract extension with Lee Todd and the University of Kentucky that would make him the Athletic Director long term in Lexington. The sources tell me that the deal could be announced as early as this week and that it is being done now before Lee Todd exits office. I must say that I am very surprised by the timing of the decision as one would think that decision would be left for the new President. But Todd and Barnhart are very close and Mitch has obviously considered leaving the school, including a very public flirtation with Kansas earlier this school year.
Then there is the issue of Barnhart’s relationship with Calipari, which while not contentious, is not exactly warm and friendly either. Locking Barnhart in as Athletic Director for a long period of time would essentially long the two of them into a long working relationship as well, something that would likely be stressful for both. They differ on a few things with the program and with some major issues coming forward in the near future, most significantly the question of a new arena, a contract extension means that their tense relationship will go into the future.
The sources tell me that we could hear something this week on the longterm deal and I must say that I am surprised by this development. The sources tell KSR that it is “very close” to happening, and if it does get completed, I will be very interested to see the specifics. Barnhart has been a great Athletic Director in the secondary sports, is committed to raising the resources for the football program, but has a tense connection with those on the basketball side. The soap opera in Lexington will continue to be more fascinating.
The Cats now sit 4-4 in the SEC with a huge two-game stretch against Tennessee and Vanderbilt forthcoming. Win both games and you are right back where you want to be, on pace to get a good seed (3 or 4) in the tournament. Split the series and your season remains up in the air, almost requiring a win in Knoxville at the end of the year. Lose both and all of a sudden the potential for being on the NCAA bubble becomes real. Calipari today said that he believed in his team and that he was confident in them going forward. I believe in the team as well but they HAVE to find a way to close out games.
Kentucky is very close to being 7-1 in conference and has shown itself to be in every game. But they also havent been able to close in any game and at some point that starts to seem like a pattern. A caller to the radio show the other night also raised a good point which is that this team just doesnt look as good as it once did. Leave aside the results or the missed plays, but the UK team that played against Notre Dame and Louisville, was clearly better than their opponents and looked to have them outmanned at every position. Against Ole Miss and Alabama, somehow that changed. I dont mind a loss to Florida, but not looking better at every position against SEC West opponents is worrisome.
With that said, two wins this week and things are better. The Cats have to take care of business at home and then hope to make a huge statement in Nashville. I think they CAN do it…the question is will they.
We begin with Kentucky Sports Radio at 10 am on Talk Radio 1080 AM. You can stream at this link to hear the show and we will talk about the Gator game, Mitch and the Sports Junkies feud from Friday. Plus be sure and follow the KSR crew for news on Twitter….four are linked below and the rest will be linked through the week. Lets get it done….