Well, we did it, my friends. We made it through another nonsense-filled week thanks to the Karen Sypher extortion trial and subtly shut the door on the official dead season of UK sports that was anything but dead. With football camp kicking off officially on Friday, the focus of the Big Blue World will become undividedly affixed to the ole pigskin and the window for making a big splash will likely close when the sun rises on Friday morning. This was a notion not lost on former Fugee Wyclef Jean, who filed paperwork declaring himself as a candidate for Haitian president just 10 minutes before the deadline. Jean, who once famously sang “If I was president, I’d get elected on Friday, assasinated on Saturday, buried on Sunday, then go back to work on Monday” stepped down from his charity foundation in an effort to become the country’s 33rd black president and the first Ritz cracker spokesman to hold the country’s highest office. It’s that type of ambitious spirit that not only bumps a predictable birthday celebration out of this top spot, but also earns the Kentucky Sports Radio delegation’s votes in the upcoming election to succeed Jeffrey from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. So, happy Friday to you, Wyclef Jean. And a happier Friday to you, my KSR family. Let’s end this thing right.
Now onto some UK notes…
– As Kentucky gets all geared up for their Canadian vacation, it looks like they’re going to be mimicking our neighbors to the north by refusing to use their size to intimidate any opponent. With Eloy Vargas already guaranteed to not participate, Coach Cal threw some doubt into the availability of Enes Kanter and Terrence Jones for the trip, saying that he has “no idea” when Kanter’s amateur status situation will be resolved and that Jones will sit if there is any possibility if his ankle is still hurting. Get ready for a heavy, heavy dose of Josh Harrellson and the dribble-drive. And Molson Ice.
– When not speaking about who isn’t going to play, Coach Cal made sure to throw some high praise toward freshman Doron Lamb, who he compared to Chris Douglas-Roberts. Cal saw a little of CDR, a former First Team All-American, in the way Lamb finds ways to put keep putting the ball in the hoop in a variety of ways. For a team that lost all but 12.5 points per game, that’s a very good thing.
– Thursday also marked the debut of the NCAA’s public APR database, which they hope will encourage recruits to review the academic commitment their prospective coach holds for his players. Kentucky got what The Good Doctor Jerry Tipton appropriatelycalled “public relations ammunition” by proving a strong APR track record for Coach Cal. In the seven season available, Coach Cal saw his team’s number grow from 913 in 2003-04 to a perfect 1,000 during their championship game season of 2007-08, before posting a 980 in his final year at Memphis and a 922 in his first season at UK. In Tipton’s Herald-Leader piece, he was told that Cal’s last four Tiger teams would have ranked in the top-20 nationally.
– Also released on Thursday was the Maui Invitational bracket, which pits Kentucky and Oklahoma in the first round. For most people in the college basketball world (and I do mean most), the big intrigue is the potential second round matchup with newly minted rival Washington. This potential matchup also again got the trash-talking fires inside diminuitive Huskies point guard Isaiah Thomas, who Tweeted “They didn’t want the UW/UK in the 1st rd??? Guess we both gotta win so people can watch what they wanna see.”
– Thursday also brought the end of Karen Sypher extortion trial thanks to an across-the-board conviction of the temptress on all counts. Sypher now heads (sorry, poor word choice) toward an October sentencing while…
– The world wonders what’s next for Rick Pitino? Louisville’s head man remains in his position and we found out, thanks to a very odd press conference, that he holds the full endorsement and support of athletic director Tom Jurich. But, it won’t be smooth sailing for Pitino, who didn’t exactly hold the highest approval rating with his fan base before the public relations disaster surfaced and Jeff Goodman summarizes his situation in the best story of Thursday.
– As mentioned above, Friday signals the official start of football as camp opens at the University of Kentucky. The Cat Scratches blog on UKAthletics.com put together some solid video footage of the players reporting on Thursday and you can check it out here.
– Friday will also be the official Media Day for the football program and Matt will be in attendance, gathering all the pertinent info and fluffing his bangs for any coed who looks his way. One thing he will be certain to take advantage of is the opportunity to speak with the quarterbacks for the last time. Kind of. Joker Phillips will not allow any of his signal callers to be available to the media until a decision is made on a starter.
– On another football note, Chris Fisher of Kentucky Ink reports that three-star wide receiver Collins Moore will decide this weekend between UK, Ole Miss and LSU. The 6’2″ Alabama native runs a 4.5 40 and is ranked as the #42 wideout in the class of 2011.
– On a non-UK note, the NCAA continued to beat people down on Thursday, as it was reported that West Virginia is under investigation for five major violations, Kansas’ Josh Selby is ineligible while his amatuer status is determined and Will Barton is academically ineligible at Memphis. Late on Thursday, according to Dan Wolken of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, Josh Pastner announced that he would help Barton fight to become eligible, though early reports show his academic situation is so muddled that it wouldn’t shock me if the NCAA was questioning if his shot record was up to date. Pete Thamel had zero tweets regarding any of these situations.
– And, on a non-UK note, the Texas Rangers were sold to Beisner boyhood hero Nolan Ryan in a move that pretty much no one around here cared about. However, if you’ve ever wondered what its like trying to buy a sports team, you must read this fascinating account by Mark Cuban. And, if you’ve ever wondered what a pain in the tail a newspaper deadline can be, take a look at this picture of Thursday’s Fort Worth Star Telegram.
– Finally, let’s end this on a high and, in honor of the start of camp, Cats Scratches and UK Athletics takes a look inside “Operation: Win” and its day with the Kentucky National Guard.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned throughout the day as we keep you abreast of all the goodies coming from the football media day and continue to get you all fired up for the unofficial start of basketball season next weekend in Windsor. It’s going to be an oustanding finish to a big-time week. Make sure you stick around. See you in a few…