Meeks moves on, Willard moves back and Martin Newton moves in

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By Bob Watkins

News & Views.

In a time of tweets, twitters, instant messaging and breaking the cell phone-while-driving law, a few reflections.

NEWS. Three and done, Jodie Meeks decided to move on.

VIEW. Disappointing for those who care for college game quality and not a nickel for the professional facsimile. He won’t say so, but an obvious issue in Meeks’ decision was “... next year at Kentucky with Patrick Patterson back, show-time John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins playing for NBA contracts, there won’t be enough shots to go around, let alone average 23 a game. Time to go.”

Meeks will do well. UK-at-Euclid fans will miss his personality.

NEWS. Ralph Willard is Rick Pitino’s new lieutenant (again) at University of Louisville basketball.

VIEW. A reminder, isn’t it, this special place, Kentucky? Pitino and Willard came to the Commonwealth together two decades ago, left for greener greens, and are back to close careers. Older and wiser, Willard is an ideal “yes, BUT hold on a minute, Rick!” foil for Da Coach.

NEWS. University of Kentucky’s Bear’s Boys Reunion is June 19-20. More than 30 of Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant’s Wildcats will gather including Wah Jones, George Blanda and Babe Parilli.

VIEW. Jones, Blanda and Parilli are legends. Yet, on behalf of Kids from the 50s, special tribute should go to other Wildcats who perhaps never knew what heroes they were to us. Radio broadcaster J.B. Falconer made them stars in our minds. Thank you: Tommy Adkins, Dick Rushing, Ken Lutz, Jim Proffitt, Bob Fry, Dick Mitchell, Joe Koch and Neil Lowry.

Bryant’s UK teams 1946-53 compiled a 60-23-5 record.

NEWS. Kentucky’s Miss Softball ‘09 is Amber Riddle of Rowan County. Her resume’ is League of Her Own impeccable. Hit .610, with 17 home runs, 64 RBI and 25 doubles. And, established KHSAA records for home runs, 55, RBI 259, and double s 92.

VIEW. Good news out of Rowan County is always good. Best part for Riddle - scholarship at Morehead State.

NEWS. University of Kentucky-at-Euclid hired a director of basketball operations last week. Martin Newton.

VIEW. With unemployment creeping toward 10 per cent nationally and layoffs at University of Kentucky, landing any job is good news. Newton’s new gig is like a purchasing officer at the Pentagon going to work for a defense contractor. Ex-Nike salesman, Newton was well connected enough to apply for work on the deep pockets side of Avenue of Champions. UK-at-Euclid will pay him $165,000 for each of two years including fish-in-a-barrel incentive bonuses - $250,00 if UK wins the SEC East, another $2,500 for a regular season title, then $13,750 when (not if) UK makes an NCAA Tournament the Wildcats are 5-1 favorites to win. Or, $27,500 if UK reaches the Final Four. More? Four tickets to all home games and two for seven home football games this year.

Newton’s job description? UK won’t say, but considering the compensation it must include a seat at six-party talks with North Korea.

America! I love this place.

NEWS. UK president Lee Todd is driving a 2009 Grand Cherokee these days valued at $30,000 to $45,000 and purchased from a UK trustee’s car dealership and donated to UK for Todd’s use, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported June 9. The story included: “... (this) comes as the state’s flagship20university faces worsening budget because of cuts in state funding.”

VIEW. Had to be a relief when Todd didn’t have to answer an everyman question: “With all due respect, Mr. President, considering your pay, how come you don’t pay for your own vehicles?”

America! I love this place.

NEWS. Good news is four UK baseball players were chosen in Major League Baseball’s draft last week.

VIEW. Bad news to coaches trying to build the program to compete with Vandy, LSU and Arkansas, seven UK signees were also drafted by Big League teams including Steven Inch, a 6-foot-4, 190-pound pitcher from Alberta selected 197th overall by the Phillies.

NEWS. Matt Pilgrim and Kevin Galloway did not have scholarships renewed at UK.

VIEW. Obviously workouts by 6-8, 240-pound Pilgrim did not impress John Calipari. Galloway being jettisoned could be a signal DeAndre Liggins is growing up.

NEWS. Another NCAA enforcement probe is focused on Southern Cal. This time men’s basketball. USC football is already under investigation.

VIEW. Found guilty, both programs deserve the death penalty. A ban from which SMU and Western Kentucky have not fully recovered. If the NCAA confirms evidence ex-coach Tim Floyd bought O.J. Mayo’s one and done services, he should be banished as Dwane Casey, Ned Fowler and Kelvin Sampson were.

Footnote. But don’t hold your breath waiting for a death penalty on big20draw, big bucks Southern Cal football because the school has power and legal means to sue the NCAA.

NEWS. Alabama football must vacate (21) wins between 2005 and 2007, the NCAA committee on infractions said last week.

VIEW. Third probation penalty for ‘Bama in the past decade. The school also was ordered to pay a $43,900 fine.

Footnote. See previous Footnote.

NEWS. Tim Patterson is listed 6-5, 230-pound. Louisville Central’s senior-to-be linebacker is rated the Commonwealth’s best college prospect.

VIEW. As college recruiters queue up with the hype and titles, including Mr. Football favorite, I hope Patterson does not become our state’s third straight Mr. Football to leave the state for college at a time ...

 • When UofL sorely needs a centerpiece recruit to recharge Cardinal football, attract  more top-flight players, and save Steve Kragthorpe’s job.

• When Western Kentucky’s D-I climb, including an opener at Tennessee, needs a blue chip recruit to advance its program.

• When Kentucky has All-American candidate Micah Johnson for one more season at linebacker.


Inadvertently left out of a segment last week on Kentuckians in 1968 Super Bowl was University of Louisville hall of famer Lenny Lyles for the Baltimore Colts. In a dozen NFL seasons Lyles played 150 games.

And so it goes.

You can reach bob Watkins at sprtsinky@aol.com