There are numerous things of interest in the news today, which we will run down in a moment. First, though, it seems that the decision of Roderick Flemings to matriculate to Hawai'i has placed the Big Blue Nation into a rather surprising funk. The Cats Pause, as well as numerous other Wildcat fan sites this morning, are filled with hand-wringing and prophesies of doom. The scare of Dick Gabriel's apparently incorrect report last night that Jodie Meeks was considering a transfer simply amplified the angst to levels not seen since Jai Lucas shunned the Cats for Florida.
First of all, it was advised by the normally reliable Marc Maggard at Kentucky Ink that he had spoken to several people in a position to know, and they had independently confirmed that Flemings was well short of NCAA qualifications to transfer from JUCO to Division 1. Assuming that is true, this begs the question, "Why would Gillispie have flown out to Texas to speak to the young man?" That is a very good question, and I don't really know, but there are all sorts of possibilities -- Gillispie wanting to evaluate his qualifications first hand, Gillispie just doing due diligence and trying to turn over every rock, etc. Besides, there is always the theoretical chance that Flemings could have made up enough hours to get qualified. We don't really know, and we probably never will. It is fairly obvious to me, though, that Kentucky didn't lose a straight-up, uncomplicated recruiting battle to the Rainbow Warriors, although I can't prove it. Call it a gut feeling.
But the point I want to make is to relax, take a deep breath and have a little faith. We brought Gillispie here, in large part, because of his reputation for recruiting. So far he has landed some excellent recruits, and is now feverishly trying to round out our roster for 2008. We have seen this before with Tubby Smith, and it is always difficult to make these come-from-behind recruiting moves successfully. Failures are going to happen, but in this frenzied environment, there are no givens and no sure things. So just keep yourself firmly grounded in the apparently obvious fact that nobody is going to beat Gillispie for a recruit by out-working him. Matt Jones had a surprisingly negative comment on this situation today over at KSR, making the point that "...if you are going to recruit him, fly down and see him and have him all but say that he is coming to Kentucky....well you gotta get him." All I can say is that this is pretty presumptuous -- recruiting simply doesn't work that way. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is that good a closer. Let's have faith, but keep in mind that we are talking about human beings here, and that one of them is a 20-year old.
Now, to the rest of the news:
Vanderbilt beat the Bat Cats last night in Nashville, 3-2. Kentucky really needs to get some wins against the tougher teams in the SEC or risk falling even farther behind in the SEC standings. As good as the Cats were early in the season, they have reached a period where they are losing as many games as they are winning, and that is not a good thing. The second game of the series is today at 3 PM. The Wildcats need this one bad.
Tyler Hansbrough will return for his senior year at UNC. Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington will be "testing the waters." My money is that at least one of them will be back next year, and probably both. Neither of them looks like a first round pick to me.
- Updating this post I had earlier, Pete Holiday of Fanhouse (and an Alabama law student) tells us that Nick Saban is finding ways around the so-called "Saban Rule," which outlawed "bumping into recruits" during the spring evaluation period, where direct contact with recruits is not allowed but "incidental" direct contact (i.e. "bumping into" a recruit during a visit to the school for a lecture or something) was formerly allowed. So Saban has figured out a new way to get in front of his targets during this time -- videoconferencing. You have to admire that kind of dedication and gumption in a coach, but you have to wonder a bit about the ethics of deliberately violating the spirit of the rule, if not its letter.
- Jerry Tipton informs us today that Paul McCoy has narrowed his choices down to Virginia and Kentucky. SMU, Southern Cal, Washington State and the other suitors now seem to have fallen by the wayside.
- If you were planning on trying out your new Twin Spires Club account on Churchill Downs' racing card this opening weekend, think again. It seems that the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Group are utilizing a provision of federal law to veto the on-line pari-mutuel betting except for a few big races like the Derby, Oaks, and Woodford Reserve Classic, holding out for a bigger piece of the pie. Churchill Downs has filed a federal lawsuit down in Florida over a similar situation. That is just posturing, however, as there is no way CD will allow this situation to continue -- they will either solve it through negotiations or removing the conditions that allow the Horsmen's group to exercise this power. Both will cost money, but trust me -- this piece of the pie is too huge to wait years for this to wind it's way through the courts. But for now, on-line bettors will have to wait to bet on CD races until there is a meeting of the minds.
- MSNBC reports that the BCS is inching toward a playoff of sorts by talking about the so-called "plus one" format that would essentially create a four-team playoff between the top four ranked teams in the bowls, then play a separate BCS championship game between the two winners. A variant of that format would play the bowls as normal, then select the top two teams out of the bowl system to play in a separate BCS championship. That is essentially what we have now, but after instead of during the BCS bowl season.
But the article warns that playoff proponents should prepare to have the patience of Job -- the earliest such a scheme could be implemented, even if the intransigent opposition can be swayed to agree -- would be seven years hence. So will this stymie the ridiculous proposed investigation of the BCS as violative of anti-trust called for by some in Congress? My guess would be no -- this is an election year, after all. Just one more question -- where is the NCAA in all of this?
AskMen.com has this story about an analysis using WhatIfSports.com to figure out who the top 10 basketball national championship teams were. They ran the teams against each other 100 times each, then ranked the teams by winning percentage. The UK 1996 national champions figure prominently, but many UK fans will not be that happy where they land. Read the whole thing if you're curious.
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, today is the start of the NFL Draft. As you know, we here at A Sea of Blue are interested in the draft results, but not as interested as many others because I am not much of a professional sports fan. I'll wait for the results to comment on them, but in the meantime, here are some sites that will give you much more coverage:
That's all for now.
Update [2008-4-26 12:14:40 by Truzenzuzex]: Regarding Flemings, I have a few more thoughts. It is possible that more of Flemings' hours will transfer to Hawai'i than UK. Of course, it is also possible that Flemings picked Hawai'i because he liked it better than UK -- he never did visit UK's campus, so he has no real first-hand knowledge of what it is like here. It is very likely that Gillispie was making a last-ditch effort to try to get him on campus, which makes a lot of sense. If so, his efforts were apparently in vain. But Flemings has always been flighty in his decision-making, as evidenced by this Rivals article back when he was coming out of high school.