Some actors will always be defined by one role: Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter; James Van Der Beek as Dawson Leery; Alfonso Ribeiro as Carlton Banks. For me, Kyle Chandler is also one of those actors. Chandler portrayed Coach Eric Taylor, aka the best TV dad ever, on “Friday Night Lights,” aka one of the best TV shows ever. Despite his convincing Texas accent, Chandler was born in New York and raised in Chicago before moving to Georgia. He went to UGA, and in 1988, after the Bulldogs’ crushing 16-10 loss to Kentucky in football, dropped out to go pursue his acting career. (What? It could have happened that way.)
Athens, Georgia’s loss was our gain. After bouncing around the network sitcom circuit in the 90’s, Chandler landed a guest role in “Grey’s Anatomy,” which helped him get an audition for “Friday Night Lights.” The rest, they say, is beautiful television history. For five seasons, Chandler brought the complex Eric Taylor to life, with his tough love attitude, mussed hair and smoking hot wife. With him, we witnessed the Panthers win the state title, a really bizarre murder plot involving Tyra and Landry, a brief college coaching stint, and the rise of the ultimate underdog: the East Dillon Lions. Chandler won an Emmy for the role in 2011, and word has it a “Friday Night Lights” movie is in the works. If you’re able to watch Coach Taylor say those six spine-tingling words (you know the ones) without wanting to run into battle, then you must be a robot.
Happy 48th birthday, Eric. Clear Eyes, Full Hearts…
Some awesome pictures of the basketball team came out on Monday, so I’ll sprinkle my favorites throughout the news and views.
Basketball practice has begun
On Sunday, the basketball team had their first official practice of the season. From now until September 27th, teams can practice as a full group for two hours a week, as opposed to the individual skill instruction they’ve received up until this point. Starting on the 27th, they move to a full 20 hours a week, several weeks earlier than past seasons, thanks to a new rule by the NCAA. Cal posted a video practice report on his website, complete with swaggy Cal mannerisms and sayings like “be the best version of us–the best version you and us” and “be humble yet hungry.” When you wade through all the “Calingo,” a few story lines remain:
— One of the messages Cal wrote on his white board was “Back to the dribble drive.” After years of tailoring his offenses to each set of players, Cal finally has the skill set to run his signature style. Plus, he’s got three extra weeks of practice to teach it. Translation: it’s gonna be a fun season.
— Cal said the team focused on lobs in their first practice, and apparently it didn’t go so well: “We knocked out the shot clock. The shot clock on one end got knocked right off its bearings. That’s how many times we hit the shot clock on lob passes.” But, Cal didn’t care: “But I was saying, ‘great, just keep throwing them.’ Because you know that’s what we throw. We throw lobs. This is a big team. We’ve got a good talented team, but boy, we’ve got a ways to go. But I’m excited about it.”
Stanley Johnson cuts it to five
After doing in-home visits with various schools last week, Stanley Johnson trimmed his list to five on Monday: Kentucky, Arizona, Florida, Oregon and USC. Johnson met with Cal on Thursday, and will visit for Big Blue Madness. He’s the top rated small forward in the 2014 class, and likes how he was the first in his position to get an offer from the Cats. His AAU coach Jules Milstead told Rivals’ Corey Albertson that Johnson also likes that Tyler Ulis committed to UK on Friday night:
“Stan was really excited about the (commitment) of Tyler Ulis,” Milstead said. “He likes playing with unselfish guards, and he thinks that Ulis is one of the best passing point guards in the country.”
Johnson visits Arizona this weekend, and many think it’s down to them and UK for his services. Hopefully he’ll find Big Blue Madness more entertaining that Tuscon on a 100-degree day.
Cal visits James Blackmon, Jr.
After visiting Tyus Jones, Myles Turner, Stanley Johnson, and Stephen Zimmerman, watching a fight in Vegas, and returning to Lexington to coach the team in their first practice, Calipari hit the road again on Monday to see James Blackmon, Jr. Blackmon is considered the fifth best shooting guard in the 2014 class, and also plans to visit Kentucky for Big Blue Madness with his friend Trey Lyles. If you’re keeping track, Cal is also recruiting Devin Booker and Rashad Vaughn at that position, and many think that Booker is likely to commit soon thanks to a good visit for the Alumni Game with his BFF Tyler Ulis.
Kentucky vs. Florida will be under the lights
Tailgaters rejoice! The UK/Florida game on September 28th has been scheduled for 7 p.m. ET, and will air on either ESPN2 or ESPNU. That means you’ll have a full day to get ready for Joker Phillips’ homecoming. Traditionally, Kentucky has a go-to-pieces when they play Florida (hence the 28-year losing streak), but Florida looks vulnerable this season, and the longer I have to think about UK’s performance against Louisville, the better I feel about the team. Yes, there are questions at quarterback (get well soon, Max Smith’s shoulder), but Kentucky lost that game because of mistakes THEY made. While that’s frustrating, mistakes can be corrected. More importantly, the old Kentucky would have laid down and given up in the fourth quarter, but the Cats gamely fought back, and once Jalen Whitlow calmed down, he looked like a quarterback capable of running the offense. The defense was outstanding for three quarters, and there were some flashes of hope for the offense in JoJo Kemp, Javess Blue, and Ryan Timmons. We should hear more about the severity of Max’s shoulder injury this week, and if it’s nothing a bye week of rest can’t heal, does a rowdy atmosphere + a hungry Kentucky team = an upset?
On that note, I’ll leave you for the night. On Tuesday, Drew Barker will stop by with his latest diary entry recapping his visit for the Louisville game, which includes some really encouraging things about the 2014 class, namely Matt Elam, whom Barker says had another great visit.
See you in the morning.