Some thoughts from a hotel in Nashville as we prepare to fly out to California:
— It has been a good night so far for UK and its NCAA Tournament hopes. Bubble team Southern Miss was basically extinguished after a loss to Marshall. Arkansas’ loss at Missouri probably permanently takes them out of the conversation and UNLV is favored to win vs Boise (or so we hope). Things are actually setting up quite well for the Cats so long as they do one thing…they simply must win at Georgia. A loss to Georgia means that a game 36 hours later versus Florida at home will determine UK’s NCAA Tournament hopes. You simply cannot have that. As Dale told us so passionately today on the radio, we can all still believe in this team. But they have to hold up their end of the bargain and give us something to believe in. A win at Georgia can make that happen and help have a NCAA Tournament berth close to fruition.
— I am not nearly as upset as others are at this point about the Sports Illustrated snub of Kentucky in its 75th NCAA Tournament Anniversary issue. While I do think it is unbelievably stupid to leave the Cats out (who do they think will buy this besides UK fans?), I can’t get up in arms because I don’t think Sports Illustrated matters any more. For fans who are of a different area, being in Sports Illustrated was the sign that your team had made it. While the covers are still very cool, the notion of SI as a statement in America is done. Their print magazine is now simply a throw-in to other promotions and until the Swimsuit issue comes out, almost no one talks about the magazine in any cultural sense. They are basically now an internet outlet just like everyone else, most famous recently for screwing up the Manti Teo story. If they choose to leave Kentucky out, that may be stupid, but ultimately irrelevant to UK’s position. ESPN matters…SI doesn’t.
— I really am excited about the football buzz and the Spring game.. Over 33,000 tickets have been distributed and it is looking as if UK will have a crowd that will be one of the top 10-15 in the nation. The move of the UK vs Miss State game to a Thursday night is more of a symbol of the increased buzz around UK football and its (slight) growth and relevance nationally. When the basketball season ends, we will delve into this more, but there are so many great signs from what I am seeing and hearing around the program that it is hard not to get excited. This staff is going to do great things and there is a change in mindset that I just know is going to bring a change in results. UK football will be relevant nationally on a level that I haven’t seen in my lifetime. I firmly believe it.
Drew and I leave for Palm Springs and our work with the Tennis Channel at the Indian Wells event tomorrow at 7 am. We will let you know here what we are doing and we will still be posting occasionally on the site about what is a huge week for UK’s basketball team. Tyler and the gang will hold down the fort while we are gone (with special contributions from former KSR College writer and now ESPN college Football employee John Wilmhoff). Radio will have Ryan with co-hosts Mike Pratt, Tom Leach, Dave Baker, Alan Cutler, Jared Lorenzen and more while we are gone. It is going to be fun and we will be hear to document it. But it is also very random, and the oddest Matt/Drew KSR moment since the picture two years ago at a Derby party with us and Kate Upton. My hope is we get something even close to this on our current excursion. See you soon: