NCAA Sports: Playing Catch-Up

Well, after two weeks of being under the weather in a big way (and believe me, it seems like two months), I'm finally ready to grace the front page of A Sea of Blue once again.  For better or for worse, it's time to take a look at some of the happenings of the last couple of days, and offer up my thoughts on some of the more interesting items found in the sports pages.  So please bear with me, for if I seem off my game; it's been awhile since I've put "pen to paper."  

So without further waiting, and with all the insight I can muster, after the jump I'll take a look at Pat Forde and what he's been up to, Trevor Lacey and his thoughts on Rupp Arena, Randall Cobb traveling to New York, and the cautionary tale of Jim Tressel.   

UK fans' favorite sports writer Pat Forde -- Forde, in this piece, once again laments the one-and-done rule currently plaguing college basketball (as if we didn't already know the rule is bad, bad, bad, for college hoops).  The difference in this article and some of Forde's previous efforts regarding the bad, bad, bad, NBA rule is that he isn't castigating UK and John Calipari, instead, Forde cites the case of Kansas guard Josh Selby (a presumed one-and-done player) as yet another reason the rule is bad, bad, bad.  For it seems at the end of Kansas' season, Selby left campus and began working out in preparation for the NBA Draft, forsaking his class schedule, his coach, and teammates. 

But does Forde paint Kansas and their coach Bill Self with the same harsh brush he has used to criticize the UK program?  Of course not (Forde obviously doesn't despise Self with the same enthusiasm as does Calipari), rather, he almost apologizes for holding up KU, Self, and Selby as an example of why the one-and-done rule is bad, bad, bad, for college basketball.  It's almost laughable ... almost, and just another example of how some writers/commentators have allowed personality conflicts and (off target) personal opinions to rape the integrity sports writers/commentators are supposed to possess when offering up their thoughts on the subjects they choose to write/talk about. 

Texas Longhorns trio declare for the NBA Draft -- Three Longhorns, sophomore Jordan Hamilton, and freshmen Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph, have all tossed their names into the NBA Draft, and as I frantically searched the web for (the sure to come) vilification of the outlaw Longhorn program, I began asking myself, "Where's the outrage?"  "Where's the 'Rick Barnes is a slimy sleaze-ball that represents all that's wrong with college basketball?'"  But alas, none such musings were to be found ... typical.

Trevor Lacey and Braeden Anderson like Rupp Arena just the way it is -- In Jerry Tipton's Sunday College Basketball Notebook he quotes UK-target Trevor Lacey and one-time UK target and Kansas commitment Braedon Anderson as saying they think Rupp Arena is a great place to play basketball, and they wouldn't change a thing about the historic arena.  Said Lacey, "I don't know how nicer it can get.  They'd have to put in millions and millions of dollars to make it nicer than what is already is."

Anderson related how special it is for modern day players to perform in the place their idols once plied their trade, saying, "But Rupp Arena is fantastic.  Honestly, I think players will lean toward tradition over a fancy new KFC Arena."  (Yikes!  A completely unsolicited poke directed toward the vile Cards.  Gotta love it.)  Anderson continued his thoughts, "If Michael Jordan played in that exact arena, players want to be in the same arena.  We want to feel the same emotions."  I second that emotion!

It is refreshing to read two young players, still in high school, talk about tradition and contentment.  Perhaps we underestimate how important the past means to some of today's young players.  We many times make the assumption that today's players are unaware or don't care about the history of the greatest programs in the sport, but clearly, that would be incorrect.

Randall Cobb is going to New York for the NFL Draft -- Cobb is one of a record 25 players invited to attend the opening night of the NFL Draft on Thursday at Radio City Music Hall.  Cobb will join other SEC players, including probable No.1 pick Cam Newton, former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, and A.J. Green, in the Big Apple.

One of the most popular UK football players of all time is most certainly deserving of the honor, especially after shooting up draft boards around the league after most considered Cobb a late round possibility because of his size (or lack thereof), and speed (or lack thereof, although his 4.5-second 40-yard dash isn't exactly a snails pace).  But this time the NFL people have probably gotten it right; Cobb is versatile enough to play returner, receiver, flanker, and even quarterback in the occasional Wildcat package.  Cobb's ability to make defenders miss, ala Derek Abney, will prove worth it's weight in gold (both to Cobb's employer and Cobb himself).  Given the right opporunity (isn't that always the case), Cobb could see time on the field next season as he plays for pay. 

Also, look for UK wide-out Chris Matthews, running back Derrick Locke, as well as full back Moncell Allen to hear their names called before the Draft mercifully wraps up Saturday night.  

Good luck to all the young men.  May all your gridiron dreams come true.

And finally, the sad, pathetic case of Jim Tressel -- The NCAA issued its "notice of allegation" to Ohio State on Monday, and based on the notice, the allegations regarding tenuously employed Buckeye coach Jim Tressel are considered "potential major violations."

Tressel, who will eventually go the way of Bruce Pearl (and to be honest, should already be co-manning the top spot in the unemployment line along with Pearl), personifies the win-at-all-costs attitude which seems to permeate college athletics.  But not surprisingly, the Buckeyes are doing all they can to hold on to their highly successful coach, because he's, well, highly successful.  Never mind that he lied to the NCAA, lied to his athletic director and lied to his school President.  None of that matters because Tressel beats rival Michigan like a drum on a regular basis, and wins well over 80% of his games.  It doesn't matter to Gene Smith (OSU AD) that Tressel attempted to cover-up the misdeeds of his players, just as it didn't matter to UT's Mike Hamilton that Bruce Pearl asked recruits and their parents to lie.  If it did matter, Tressel would be the former coach of the Buckeyes as I type this, but that, soon enough.

Thanks for reading and Go 'Cats!

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