Big week looms for Junction City fans

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By Bob Watkins

Junction City. This week, that would be Lexington. And, wherever you live with a satellite dish on the roof.

Wednesday – Big Blue Nation gets a gander at two of college basketball’s best teams at the Blue-White scrimmage in Rupp Arena.

And, baseball’s World Series begins. If Bud Selig can get this done by Thanksgiving, the Phillies-Yankees could make the Fall Classic as good as it gets.

Saturday – As the injury list threatens to wreck his train, Rich Brooks’ Kentucky tries to find somebody not named Randall Cobb to help beat Mississippi State in another SEC Brute Bowl. A win would launch Kentucy bowl whisper. Pssst, CBS projects UK-Texas Tech in the Independence Bowl.


A fresh sparkle came swirling out of University of Kentucky-at-Euclid basketball last week. Not related to spin, Three Amigos, or John Calipari tweets and book promotion.

This one echoed Octobers past and warmed the hearts of Wildcat fans dating to days of Wah Wah and Uncle Adolph.

“Whatever he (coach) wants me to do, that’s what I’ll do. I just want to win, so whatever it takes.” – Rookie Jon Hood.

Not one of (self-anointed) Three Amigos, Hood has DNA and wiring for membership in a more distinguished fraternity. The Whatever It Takes Club includes: Reggie Hanson, Terry Mills, Deron Feldhaus, Scott Padgett, Winston Bennett, Cameron Mills, Patrick Sparks, James Lee, Mike Casey, and the list gones on.

All are native sons wired to recognize that letters across a jersey front sit on a higher pedestal in Big Blue Nation than who made it to The League.

Hood will do well.


Magazine hype (college player of the year?) to media herd ga-ga over John Wall’s hops and his denial of being a UK savior, there was Wall news last week.

A wolf was at the door. Dressed in AAU coaching clothes, Brian Clifton’s name and the NCAA police came on the radar screen. UK officials? A quick and predictable ‘we will have no comment,’ as doors slammed shut at Craft Center.

Welcome to big-time ball’s front page, kid.

The NCAA wants to know if Wall took cash from erstwhile professional agent who coached Wall in AAU ball, Brian Clifton.

In an era of Me-ism, marketing and show-me-the-money, Clifton may have slipped Wall a few dollars. What’s new? O.J. Mayo played the system, Derrick Rose did likewise and Michigan’s so-called Fab Five did also.

Yet, if you believe anything short of a Clifton signed confession will short circuit John Wall’s “amateur status,” please stand over there next to the that ain’t-gonna-happen crowd, Calipari, UK compliance director Sandy Bell and Little Red Riding Hood.

So, the NCAA should:

1. File its investigation in the trash, confirm with Bell that student-athlete Wall is attending classes, is behaving, and leave a college kid alone. And shut up.

2. Clifton? If he put at risk the glowing future of a teenager for personal gain, then I see two choices: Ban him from all NCAA-sponsored activities permanently, have his name put on a watch list.

Or, my preference, have Clifton bound and gagged and locked in a 12x12 room with Dick Vitale and a black and white teevee for couple days. That should do it.

3. If Wall took money knowing it would put in jeopardy the NCAA’s favorite investigation target, UK, the kid should take responsibility publically and quickly, make restitution, accept suspension for half-dozen games.

Then we can all move on.


NEWS. Next week, high school football playoffs. The other side of championships will be all-state selections, Paul Hornung Award winner, and the 24th annual Kentucky Mr Football.

VIEW. Permit me an annual request. I urge Associated Press affiliates who nominate and vote, do yourhomework, do not be swayed by geography, coach-speak or personal media lists. Create your own.

I hope Mr. Football voters go beyond individual statistics and team success. Elevate the award’s prestige by considering academic achievement, team leadership in school and community. Telephone school directors of athletics.

NEWS. Louisville’s Terrence Jennings and Jerry Smith pleaded guilty recently to charges in Indiana and issued apologies at a court hearing. Swift justice and end of story, right? Wrong.

VIEW. The two get probation, but mored get a life lesson to serve them when the ball stops bouncing – 100 hours of community service. Wonder if Rick Pitino lobbied a judge to order Jennings and Smith to duty in a homeless shelter kitchen, garbage or trash pick-up duty? Perfect.


At his celebrated father’s urging, Marcus Jordan, freshman on University of Central Florida’s basketball team, is refusing to wear a brand of sneaker not endorsed by Michael. UCF has a $2 million-a-year contract with a rival company, but school officials relented, let young Jordan wear his dad-approved shoes.

Compromise is good, but this was weak. Marcus Jordan should have been subject to the Bill Walton Rule. When senior-to-be (space cadet) Walton told his coach at UCLA before the season, he would not cut his long hair, John Wooden replied, “That’s your choice, Bill. We will miss not having you on the team.”

Walton got a hair cut.

Lesson: UCF director of athletics Keith Tribble could have and should have gotten national media points by telling Marcus Jordan the same and by suggesting Michael Jordan take a hike.

And so it goes.

Sports In Kentucky appears in community newspapers across the Commonwealth. You can reach bob Watkins at sprtsinky@aol.com