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Football Season Coverage

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Randy Sanders to be named Head Coach at ETSU

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

FootballScoop is reporting that former Kentucky offensive coordinator Randy Sanders is expected to be named as the next head coach at East Tennessee State. Sanders served as the Kentucky quarterback coach from 2006-2012 and offensive coordinator from 2009-2012. After Joker Phillips left Kentucky, Sanders went to Florida State where he won Quarterback Coach of the Year in 2013 for his work with Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.

A member of the FCS, ETSU went 4-7 this year. Head Coach Carl Torbush retired from the position following the season.

Good luck to Coach Sanders in what will be his first head coaching opportunity!


WATCH: Joey Couch Shares his Greatest Kentucky Memories

Today Eastern Kentucky and the entire Big Blue Nation was shocked to receive the news that former UK defensive lineman Joey Couch suddenly passed away.

An All-SEC performer for Jerry Claiborne’s Kentucky Wildcats, one of Paintsville’s greatest representatives spoke with Bluegrass Sports Nation two months ago prior to the Tigers’ matchup with Hazard.  An assistant coach at Paintsville where his son plays, Couch took some time away from his team to talk about his favorite moments at UK.  A goal line stand stop at Indiana is a memory that stands above the rest.

“I never really dreamed that my career would go as well as it did,” Couch said.  See everything Couch had to say to Bluegrass Sports Nation:

All of our thoughts and prayers are with Couch’s family in their time of need.


Mark Stoops Brought Ed Reed for UK’s Huge Football Recruiting Weekend

@JenNimePalumbo

A future Pro Football Hall of Famer was in the Rupp Arena stands for today’s Kentucky-Virginia Tech game, along with 24 UK football official visitors.

For Mark Stoops’ biggest recruiting weekend of the year, he invited one of his most successful former players to Lexington, Ed Reed.  Stoops was Reed’s position coach at The U before the Ball-Hawk terrorized NFL quarterbacks for more than a decade.

That wasn’t the only thing Stoops’ staff did to impress the recruits in the stands.  Benny Snell, Mike Edwards, Lynn Bowden, Courtney Love and C.J. Conrad were introduced to the Rupp Arena crowd.  Benny took the mic and told the Big Blue Nation, “We going to Nashville. We’re going to get this W. I promise.”


WATCH: Australian News Report Prepares the BBN for New UK Punter Max Duffy

WATCH: Australian News Report Prepares the BBN for New UK Punter Max Duffy

The Big Blue Nation knows very little about Dean Hood’s latest Australian sensation at punter.  When Max Duffy committed to Kentucky in November we knew two things: he’s a former professional Australian rules football player who was named the top punter at the Ray Guy Kicking Camp.

A report from Paddy Sweeney at 9-News in Perth, Australia has shed a new light on Kentucky’s next punter.  The 24-year old kicker has been kicking 1,500 balls a week to prepare for the next four years at Kentucky.  “I just can’t wait to get over there and be a part of the Big Blue Nation,” Duffy said.

The quotes from Duffy aren’t the best part of the report.  Hearing an Australian newsman describe Kentucky football from thousands of miles away is a perspective nobody has ever heard.  Described as the “U.S. sporting heartland,”  the report tries to capture the scope of UK football by saying, “The Kentucky Wildcats are so big, they’ve even got their own TV station.”

Watch the two-minute report and you will want to watch the fascinating piece again, again and again.


Former UK Great Joey Couch has Passed Away

With great sadness, I regret to inform you that former Kentucky football defensive lineman Joey Couch passed away suddenly at 49.

One of the best football players Eastern Kentucky has ever produced, Couch was an All-State linebacker who also played tight end and fullback at Paintsville High School.  A two-sport star, Couch scored 2,000 points while sharing the basketball court with Unforgettable John Pelphrey.  He is the only player from the state of Kentucky to play in the Kentucky-Tennessee All-Star football game and the Kentucky-Indiana All-Star basketball game.

For Couch, choosing to play for Kentucky was an easy decision.  “Because that’s our University. The state’s school,he told KSR “I wanted to be a Wildcat. I wanted to play where Cawood Ledford would call my name on the radio.”

Cawood frequently called Couch’s name.  One of Jerry Claiborne’s most tenacious defenders, the Kentucky head coach moved him from linebacker to defensive line.  Couch thrived in the trenches.  He became a three-year starter, an All-SEC selection, a Street and Smith All-American and in 1991 he was voted a Team Captain.

The loss of Couch hits close to home.  Couch was Freddie Maggard’s Kirwin/Blanding roommate.  Their fathers, Big Fred and E.A. Couch, were teammates on the legendary 1956 Carr Creek State Championship team.

Couch’s passing is a tragedy.  KSR’s prayers are with his young family and all of his friends.


Mark Stoops is excited for busy recruiting weekend, continued bowl preparation

Mark Stoops opened today’s press conference talking about his excitement for a big recruiting weekend and continued bowl preparation, but turned focus on some of his athletes that graduated this afternoon.

17 football players, including grad-assistant Alex Montgomery, walked across the stage and received their diplomas this afternoon, and Stoops said he’s proud of all the work they’ve put in.

“I’m very proud of that. Having 17 members of this bowl team that came in (four years ago), I’m proud of them and the work they’ve put in,” he said.

Nick Roush wrote a post this afternoon talking about all of the talented prospects making their way to Lexington this weekend (you can find it here), and Stoops told the media it’s going to make for a very chaotic, yet rewarding and successful time for the program.

“We have upwards of 24 prospects on campus for official visits, so it’s a very busy and exciting time for us,” Stoops said.

When asked about the schedule for the recruits in town this weekend, Stoops said they have a full itinerary set for them. He said they watched practice and went out to eat tonight, they’ll go to the basketball game tomorrow, and then a big dinner celebration afterward.

As far as bowl preparation goes, Stoops says his team has been rusty due to limited practice in two weeks, but they’re finally finding their grooves.

“We’ve done a lot of good against good, and that usually gets the intensity and the pace picked up a little bit,” he said. ” It’s been really good.”

You can watch the entire Stoops presser below:

Go Cats.


LOOK: Several Kentucky athletes graduated this afternoon

This afternoon, the University of Kentucky had 35 student-athletes walk across the stage and receive their diplomas, marking the end of a long journey at the school.

There were several current stars and popular past names that all deserve applause on such a big day.

First up, we had UK quarterback Stephen Johnson with a few other football players posing after graduation:

Kentucky receiver Garrett “Juice” Johnson with his family:

Former basketball players Erik Daniels and Gerald Fitch came back and earned their diplomas today, as well:

Current WNBA star Makayla Epps donned her cap and gown after walking across the stage:

Here was Matthew Mitchell’s video of Epps walking across the stage and receiving her diploma:

Yesterday, we shared the story of UK basketball manager Kevin Massey’s inspiring story and his tough journey to graduation.

Today, he got up on stage and received his diploma. He also got a visit from President Eli Capilouto:

Congratulations to all University of Kentucky graduates and good luck in their future endeavors!


Join the Free Money Podcast Bowl Pick ‘Em Challenge

Join the Free Money Podcast Bowl Pick ‘Em Challenge

Do you think you’re smarter than the Free Money Podcast?

If so, now is your chance to prove it.

The Free Money Podcast Bowl Mania Challenge is open to anyone interested in trying their hand at picking the bowl games. Simply go to the Free Money Pick ‘Em Challenge on ESPN and select your winners for each of the 41 college football bowl games, and then rank them based on confidence level. Use password “KSR1” when prompted at sign-up.

Whoever walks away as the overall winner will receive two tickets to the UK-Florida basketball. Second and third place winners will walk away with prizes as well.

Good luck, everyone.

Free Money Pick ‘Em Challenge on ESPN


Recap: What We Know About Northwestern So Far

William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

The long-time gap following the Governor’s Cup to the Music City Bowl allows us to present the Northwestern scouting report in small increments. Hopefully this post will allow you to catch up on what we’ve covered up to this point. There’s much, much more to follow on the Purple Wildcats, but next week we’ll focus on December’s National Signing Day.

Let’s take a look back:

Northwestern Tops Kentucky in the Red Zone

Quarterback Clayton Thorson has started over thirty games. The junior quarterback is testing NFL waters for early entry and will present a challenge for the Kentucky pass defense.

Remember that Name: Northwestern QB Clayton Thorson

Head coach Pat Fitzgerald was an All-American linebacker at NU and has two All-Big Ten linebackers at his disposal. Northwestern is ranked ninth in the nation by allowing just 111 rush yards per game.

An Early Look at the Northwestern Defense

But, Northwestern has struggled against the pass and is ranked last in the Big Ten.

Northwestern Pass Defense Similar to Missouri

We’ll continue to update the scouting report after Wednesday’s National Signing Day. For now I’ll leave you with a full-game film so you can see UK’s Music City Bowl opponent in its entirety.


Your guide to the Music City Bowl fan events

Your guide to the Music City Bowl fan events

Coming to Nashville for the Music City Bowl? There will be plenty of events throughout the week leading up to the game, so come down early to party with the BBN. Here’s the schedule of fan events:

Tuesday, December 26

3 – 4 p.m.: Teams arrive at Opryland

Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, 2800 Opryland Drive 

Kentucky rolls into town on Tuesday, so if you’re already in the area, come to Opryland to greet them. Make a day of it by checking out the hotel’s famous Christmas decorations and lights or taking the kids to the ICE attraction. This year’s theme is “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

7 – 10 p.m.: Bowl Welcome Party, Songwriting Contest, and Hot Chicken Eating Contest

Wildhorse Saloon, 120 2nd Avenue North; Invitation only

Once the teams get settled in the hotel, it’s off to downtown for the official welcome party. Five players from each team will participate in a songwriting contest AND a hot chicken eating contest. I nominate Matt Elam. There will also be a round of Coaches Karaoke. Maybe Mark Stoops can get some singing tips from Toby Keith?

Wednesday, December 27

8 – 9 p.m.: Global Force Wrestling Event (Players Party)

Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, 2800 Opryland Drive 

As Drew mentioned last week, the players are invited to a Global Force Wrestling event Wednesday night, although whether or not this event happens is still uncertain because the company may no longer exist. The event is still listed on the Music City Bowl website, so stay tuned.

Thursday, December 28

10:15 – 11:15 a.m.: Coaches press conference

Gaylord Opryland Hotel – Ryman Ballroom, 2800 Opryland Drive

Stoops and Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald will hold a joint press conference at the team hotel Thursday morning.

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.: Coaches Luncheon

Gaylord Opryland Hotel – Tennessee Ballroom, 2800 Opryland Drive

Fans can purchase tickets to the coaches luncheon, which will feature comments from Stoops and Fitzgerald. The pep band, cheerleaders, and mascot will also be in attendance.

12 – 9 p.m.: Fan Zone opens on Broadway

Broadway will be shut down on Thursday and Friday for a block party, which includes concerts, activities for kids, and a live-fire cooking area featuring some of Nashville’s best chefs. I’m all in on that.

4 p.m.: World Hot Chicken Eating Championships

1st and Broadway

How much hot chicken can you eat in eight minutes?

There’s a Hot Chicken Eating Contest before the Music City Bowl

5 – 8 p.m.: Battle of the Bands featuring Champagne Dynamite

Broadway

If you can only attend one event, make it the Battle of the Bands Thursday night. Kentucky and Northwestern’s bands and cheerleaders will square off on Broadway, playing four or five songs each. Afterwards, a band called Champagne Dynamite will perform (Google tells me they’re a very popular wedding band).

Here’s the event back in 2009:


Friday, December 29

10 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.: Fan Zone opens on Broadway

Grab a mimosa and brace yourself for a busy day.

11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.: Kentucky Pep Rally

Broadway

Cheer the team on as they head to the stadium before the game.

1 – 2:30 p.m.: Pregame Concert featuring Two Story Road

Broadway

Mitch Barnhart said that’s he’s working on a way for UK fans to be able to watch the Louisville game in Nashville, which hopefully means they’ll set up some big TVs in the Fan Zone on Broadway. No offense, Two Story Road, I’m sure you’re a nice band and all, but all Kentucky fans will care about from noon to 2 p.m. on Friday is basketball.

8 – 9:30 p.m.: Postgame Concert featuring Resurrection

Broadway

One way or the other, Broadway will be wild Friday night. The Fan Zone will still be open and Journey tribute band Resurrection takes the stage at 8 p.m.:

Yacht rock lovers rejoice!


Send a kid to the Music City Bowl for Christmas

Feel like giving back this Christmas? UK is teaming up with Boys and Girls Clubs across Southern and Western Kentucky to send some lucky kids to the Music City Bowl, and you can be a part of it.

Gifts are being accepted now through December 22 and are tax deductible. A gift of $85 is enough to send one child to the bowl game from one of the following organizations:

  • Glasgow/Barren County Boys and Girls Club
  • Franklin Simpson Boys and Girls Club
  • Hopkinsville Boys and Girls Club
  • Bowling Green Boys and Girls Club
  • Hopkinsville Middle School Football
  • Christian County Middle School Football
  • Fort Campbell Staff and Family

The K-Fund’s goal is to raise $50,000, which will enable 600 people from these communities to attend the game. If you’re interested in helping, click the link below and help some kids make some lifelong memories.

[Bowl Game Tickets for Kentucky Communities and Children]


The KSR Football Podcast: Signing Day and Music City Bowl Preview

Before things get crazy on the football front over the next two weeks, the KSR Football Podcast has everything you need to be prepared for the chaos.  Drew, Jared, Freddie and Nick preview the matchup between two Wildcats in Nashville before turning to next week’s signing day and the 2018 UK football recruiting class.  Highlights:

—  What caused Drew to break out in tears?

—  Why Freddie believes next season’s starting quarterback will be announced immediately after spring practice.

—  Which freshman has arms as big as Jared’s stomach?

—  Nick is a nerdy jerk.

—  Which UK commit looks like Lamar Thomas on the football field?

—  Is the early signing period a good thing for Kentucky football?

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play.  Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “KSR Football Podcast” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.


Today on KSR, powered by DRAFT: Hokies, Hurt, and Star Wars

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One step closer to Virginia Tech

The Hokies may not be the marquee non-conference opponent we all had hoped for, but the closer we get to Saturday’s game, the more excited I am to see how the Cats respond to their potent offense. We’re used to seeing Kentucky overwhelm opponents with its speed and athleticism, but Virginia Tech is one of the rare teams thus far capable of keeping up. Plus, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s cousin plays for them and he’s very good.

ICYMI, Kentucky offered Matthew Hurt

There was a lot of news last night (most of the Louisville variety), so you may have missed John Calipari extending a scholarship offer to Matthew Hurt, the fifth-ranked prospect in the 2019 class. Clearly, watching Hurt drop 48 points Tuesday night made an impression. UK has now handed out eight offers in the 2019 class:

  • PG: Tyrese Maxey
  • G: Bryan Antoine
  • SG/SF: Scottie Lewis
  • SF: D.J. Jeffries
  • SF: Keion Brooks
  • PF: Vernon Carey
  • PF: James Wiseman
  • PF: Matthew Hurt

The Music City Bowl Gift Suite looked awesome

Yesterday, the football team got to choose their bowl gifts from the Music City Bowl gift suite, which included HDTVs, Yeti Coolers, recliners, gaming consoles, and pretty much any cool electronic you can think of:

Which gifts would you have chosen?

Did you see the end of the Wisconsin/Western Kentucky game?

The Hilltoppers would have gone to overtime with Wisconsin if not for this terrible call by officials:

Rick Stansbury had every right to be furious. I’m furious.

Podcasts everywhere!

The football podcast crew is reuniting this morning to tape a new podcast, and later today, the OTT Podcast crew is tackling yet another bracket to determine the Worst Christmas Song ever. I know you’ve got feelings on this, so feel free to share them in the comments.

ICYMI, new episodes of the Funkhouser Situation and the Free Money podcast dropped yesterday, so refresh that KSR Podcast feed.

Anyone else seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi tonight?

I’m tagging along with my husband and friends to check out the latest installment of the Star Wars series. I’m far from a Star Wars nerd but I enjoyed The Force Awakens, and the people watching should be spectacular. Plus, popcorn.

Shoutout to Brandon for repping KSR on the cliffs of Ireland

I hope you warmed up with a nice pint of Guinness, Brandon.

Radio in an hour. I have a feeling they’ll mention Rick Pitino once or twice.


The Free Money Podcast’s Bowl Season Spectacular

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: college football bowl season.  To prepare you for the bowl mania, Matt and Drew make selections (and share Phil Steele’s) for every 2017 postseason football game.  Highlights:

—  What should Matt get Ryan for Christmas.

—  Where do they come up with the names for some of these bowl games?

—  Do they like Kentucky’s matchup with Northwestern?

—  Matt likes Arizona State, but why?

—  Drew absolutely hates his picks.

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play.  Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.


Kentucky football receives their Music City Bowl gifts

Christmas came early for UK Football.

The Kentucky Wildcats received their gifts for the Music City Bowl this afternoon, and they’re pretty impressive.

Take a look:

Not too shabby at all…