Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies.
Respect. That is the word that all sports fans like to hear directed at their teams, particularly those who have been... shall we say... historical underachievers — kind of like the UK football program. Let’s make no bones about it — Kentucky has obtained the position of being largely thought of as a doormat in the SEC the old-fashioned way — they’ve earned it through lackluster recruiting, spotty performance, and an uncanny ability to lose games in the last seconds. It’s a deadly combination from a fan standpoint, and has led to Kentucky’s current dubious honor of being an SEC “basketball school.”
Under Head Coach Mark Stoops, that is changing. As with all things worth doing, changing the direction of a historically underachieving football program the right way takes time and painful experience, and Stoops & Co. have had plenty of that early on. But now, after seven seasons, Kentucky is finally in a position to earn something more than disdain. Ben Roberts has this latest story in which a number of local and out-of-state sports media folks are asked to comment on Kentucky’s pending season.
What we see, generally, are realistic assessments, but surprisingly few losing season predictions. In the fairly recent past, Kentucky rarely would’ve been picked to win more than two or three games in an SEC-only season. Nowadays, only a couple of writers, mostly rivals or those simply living in the past pick Kentucky to win fewer than five games, and the vast majority pick six or more. Here’s an example of each from non-Kentucky media types:
Pat Dooley, Gainesville Sun: 6-4 — I have Kentucky at 6-4 and that’s only because Mark Stoops will find a way to have a winning record. The Wildcats could even be a surprise contender in the East.
Adam Sparks, The Tennessean: 4-6 — Kentucky is no longer a likely win for SEC opponents. The Wildcats are a tough matchup because of their physicality and toughness, and they can thank Mark Stoops for that. The defense should be good. The offensive line will be physical, which should allow UK to run the ball well. That being said, the offense can’t be one-dimensional this season. Unless there is an upgrade at QB, I think the lack of a passing game leads to at least a couple of losses that could have otherwise been wins.
Now, it may seem to you that some of these comments, like the second one above, are out-of-touch considering what Kentucky brings back, but remember — old habits die hard. The tendency to sniff derisively at any Kentucky football team is well-ingrained in most SEC writers.
Taken as a whole, this looks to me like the kind of respect Kentucky has been working to earn under Mark Stoops. What remains now is to prove themselves worthy of it, and that, as Frank Zappa once snarked, is the “crux of the biscuit.”
Tweet of the Morning
UK naming the Media Work room at the Joe Craft Center in memory of Lee Stewart, aka @NotJerryTipton according to the real @JerryTipton— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) September 20, 2020
Very nice gesture by UK and one that he would have been astounded and honored by.
I have to say, I’m speechless. Sometimes, your impact is greater than you think.
- Kentucky receiver Allen Dailey knows all about Auburn’s QB Bo Nix.
- Kentucky Wildcats season preview roundtable over at Team Speed Kills. More respect abides. I wasn’t sure I’d live to see the day...
- Sir Charles Barkley takes a swipe at Kentucky in the game versus Auburn. Well, you can hardly blame him, he kind of has a rooting interest. Plus he’s a basketball guy, so I wouldn’t put much stock in his football predictions.
- Kentucky to rotate jersey number 22 to show support for Chris Oats, the UK linebacker who was hospitalized in May for an undisclosed medical problem.
- Mark Stoops appears to take a subtle jab at Louisville. Well, Stoops has never been known as exactly controversial in his public persona, so I wouldn’t get caught up in it.
- Remember the name Carrington Valentine this season, Larry Vaught says.
- Terry Touchdown is back, but he still must take that first hit versus Auburn.
- Beau Allen’s TD total and other bold predictions for UK’s 2020 season.
- There seems to be an emerging trend for Kentucky basketball away from the top five recruits to concentrate on players further down the ranking. Speculation is that this is a defensive reaction by John Calipari to the G-League’s newly expanded program for high-school graduate players.
- More speculation as to why the Oliver Sarr ruling is taking so long.
Other Kentucky sports
- Kentucky soccer takes down Duke 4-2 in home opener. Way to go, guys.
- Hold your breath, SEC — football is here!
- SEC releases policies for canceled and rescheduled football games.
- NCAA basketball could be saved, in part, by plans for bubbles in big cities.
- Louisville responds to the NCAA, says its case should be classified as a level II mitigated violation. “Louisville responds to the NCAA...” is getting to be a very, very familiar phrase. I’m so old I remember when every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a sports platform was warning Kentucky fans that this would be the case under Coach Cal. That prediction didn’t age well...
Other sports news
- Anthony Davis says, “I want those shots” after hitting the game-winner over the Nuggets to take a 2-0 series lead.
- Scientists speculate on how life on Venus could’ve begun. Getting a bit ahead of ourselves, aren’t we?
- Rare “Blue Moon” on Halloween this year. Fitting — it is 2020, and a lot of “rare” things have been happening. Hopefully, they all stay “rare.”
- Researchers identify a new type of superconductor.