GUEST COLUMN: It's a must-win week for UK

-A A +A
By Bob Watkins

Those diesel coal truck tread marks across Joker Phillips’ forehead, never mind.

It’s a new day. Move on!

MUST WIN WEEK is tag-line for football teams in Lexington, Louisville, Bowling Green and Richmond today.

• Kentucky, humiliated at Florida, and because of its $EC road ahead, time to Man Up. A win at Ole Miss is vital if the Wildcats are to do the next-level thing Joker Phillips aspires to with big visits on the horizon from Auburn and South Carolina.

• Louisville has had two weeks to prepare for Arkansas State (1-3) at Jonesboro for what must be launch a win-streak contest for the Cardinals.

• Western Kentucky (0-4) was better and tougher at South Florida, but still owns Uncle Charlie (nation’s longest L-streak). The Hilltoppers must make most of its bye-week before another trip to the sunshine state October 9, at Florida International (0-3 and at Pitt this week).

• Eastern Kentucky (0-3) comes off a bye-week to host Kentucky State in a last prep for seven straight OVC dates.

Must Win week in Kentucky.


In the afterglow of Eric Bledsoe’s Algebra-3 Miracle, Anthony Davis’s $ummertimeallegation in Chicago, and John Calipari’s divinely inspired assurances again that Enes Kanter is an amateur and will play at Kentucky this winter, Wildcat fans have grabbed up tickets for Big Blue Madness madly. Let the big show begin.

But, wait. College basketball’s winningest coach took center stage last week and served a dose of reality that today’s hardliner fans will want to dismiss as old school rant, even though it isn’t.

Speaking at a fundraiser in Indiana, Bob Knight put the light of day on the cheapness of John Calipari’s one-and-done approach to college basketball.

“An incoming freshman,” Knight pointed out, “only has to pass six hours in the first semester – six hours with a D.” Second semester a basketball player technically need not attend class at all to keep eligible since by end of semester and grade accountability, the season and NCAA Tournament are history and one-and-done candidates are ready for news conference to announce they will stand for theNBA’s June Draft.

“That’s not what college basketball should be about,” Knight said, accusing the NCAA of negligence. “Not only to what would be best for the game, but what would be best for the kids (who) play the game.”

Right again. Little wonder Calipari wants to engage the General.

A reminder, one of the golden cords that binds young fans to University of Kentucky s players. An element being eroded away by one-and-done-ism. A devotion based on, say, the Patrick Patterson model – pride in his university, appreciation for time spent there, personal achievement on campus and in community for after basketball. These things are as much if not more valuable than professional riches.


A motion picture Kentuckians have waited for comes to the Commonwealth next week. Secretariat. The Disney film tells the story of 1973 triple crown winner and owner Penny Chenery, played by Diane Lane.

The official premiere at Lexington’s Kentucky Theater is October 3 and will be screened nationally October 8. The place and release time were chosen to coincide with the Equestrian Games.

Because several scenes for the picture were done at Churchill Downs, some horse people lobbied for simultaneous premiere in Lexington and Louisville. Disney Studios said no.

Reactions to the studio’s decision brought to the fore one of Kentucky’s most quotable, credible and diplomatic voices when the subject is horse racing, John Asher.

Churchill Downs vice president for communications told the Courier-Journal last week: “Secretariat had a minute and 59 and two-fifth seconds of brilliance here at Churchill Downs. But he spent 16 years of his life in Lexington. As long as (the movie) premieres in horse country and focuses on Secretariat, I’m happy.”



Another double dose of 15-minutes of fame for Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski. The Pirates unveiled a statue last month honoring its Hall of Fame second basemen. Maz is the only player ever to hit a Game Seven bottom-of-the-ninth inning home run to win a World Series.

Joe Carter’s Game Six homer for Toronto is the only other player to end a Fall Classic with a home run.

Major League Baseball had no film of the dramatic Game Seven from 1960.

Then, last week in the late Bing Crosby’s wine cellar in San Francisco a mint-condition film of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series was discovered. Crosby was part owner of the Pirates at the time and had the game filmed. It has since been converted to DVD and will be subject of a Major League Baseball Network special hosted by Bob Costas this winter.

Stay tuned.


Politics being what it is, celebrity wrung from being a former UK basketball player may not be help enough for lieutenant-governor wannabe Richie Farmer any more than it was for Derrick Hord or, in the end, Scotty Baesler,

For a second time in two months, financial dealings by Kentucky’s Agriculture Secretary-turned-candidate brought media scrutiny and bad karma to Farmer’s ambitions.

Farmer’s campaign paid him $9,750 for 650 copies of his autobiography in February 2009, the Courier-Journal reported.

The $15-a-copy book was not found in book stores in Lexington or Frankfort. A listing for the book was found at Lexington’s public library. According to an internetsite, Antec Corporation published Farmer’s book in 1992. Ninety-four pages with illustrations and a pull-out poster.

I would have thought a Kentucky all-stater, 2,947 points scored at Clay County High, Mr. Basketball (1988) and a 9.6 points average at UK, would merit more than a 94-page autobiography with pull-out poster.

And so it goes.

Sports In Kentucky appears in community newspapers across Kentucky. You can reach Watkins at Sprtsinky@aol.com.