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One day in February, one news cycle, college football flies over road to Final 4

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By Bob Watkins

That Super Bowl thing — what was that?
Television commercial, $4 million for 60 seconds? Some heist. First play third quarter, across America we could hear TV remotes clicking to The Beatles special on CNN.
This week: For one day, one news cycle, followed by marathon analysis, college football flies above college basketball’s road to the final four.
Signing day.
College Haves reload – Florida State, Alabama, Ohio State; wannabe(s) Louisville, Duke and others, then the flashing street sign: Under-Construction – Kentucky.
Wildcat football is in its best stretch since Tim Couch was drawing raves for Air Raid in the ‘90s.
The calendar ...
• Two weeks ago, an arms race update. UK announced another multi-million dollar investment in football. Privately funded.
• A week ago, Matt Elam chose the blue helmet.
• Kentucky had beaten Alabama for something besides a basketball game.
Elam isn’t just any player. Here is a man-child with potential to rare up at scrimmage and shout to his defensive fellows, “Hey, guys, I got this side.”
Elam is a kid with Cherub grin and block top and sculpted at 360 pound 6-feet-six. He is Donte Rumph with wheels, personality of Sweet Pea Burns and promise of Art Still. Arguably, the new face of another football renaissance at Kentucky.
Reflecting a bright mind beyond his years, Elam came home from visits to Alabama, Notre Dame and the rest then, with wisdom beyond his years, said “they all have nice facilities,” but (in the end) “it comes down to relationships.”
Here, here.

Football signs
Rivals.com and other recruiting services are a like a TV commercial for Super Bowl, a hustle, a mirage for wishful thinkers. They are to high school athletes what polls are to politics – pick what pleases you, dismiss the rest.
Consider University of Kentucky.
PICK. Coach Mark Stoops’ incoming class is rated ahead of Texas, Penn State, Oklahoma, Stanford, USC and Michigan. Upside – other prospects are impressed; Big Blue fans’ hopes rise, season ticket sales go up.
DISMISS. Ratings that project UK’s class is only seventh best among teams it must play, the SEC. Media loves underdog (UK); Stoops loves his bolstered red-shirt options; and Big Blue fans love 2014 schedule.

Groundhog Day at UK?
Kentucky’s 5-point take-down at Missouri was an RPI boost, but ended more Whew! than Wow!
“We’re so young ...” ... “we’re learning to play together ...”we’re so young.” ... “we’re still learning.”
Groundhog Day again and again for the Calipari(s).
The Wildcats purred to a 16-point lead, then Mizzou guards Jabari Parker and Jordan Clarkson discovered the right side of Kentucky’s defense was soft as a lamb’s bottom but ran out of possessions. Kentucky escaped by five.
With three winnable games before Florida comes to Rupp Arena February 15, UK’s win at Missouri could be the grow-up fans have waited to see. Or, it could add more fuel to the argument:
“... these kids are NOT ready for the next level. They all need another year in college!”
As opposed to:
“These kids ARE definitely ready for the next level! The NBA’s developmental league.”

Dakich delight
Amusing, the criticism and praise lavished on ESPN analyst Dan Dakich after Kentucky’s fiasco at LSU January 28.
Straight-talking Dakich told us what we’ve seen for ourselves – Andrew and Aaron Harrison are whiny and pouty college freshmen whose best advice would be, “best thing we can do is become sophomores.”
By last week Dakich was being exalted for his courage candor and forthrightness. Say what?
He seemed puzzled by the (media) love as if to say, “isn’t that what I’m here to do?”
Irony is this question, how long until Indiana U. graduate Dakich becomes Second Coming of ... Billy Packer
Ah, the politically correct times we live in.

News amd views
NEWS. During the Kentucky-LSU game coach John Calipari walked onto the floor during the game, which he does often, grabbed Andrew Harrison and shoved him into the play.
VIEW. Perception becomes reality. When Bob Knight grabbed a player during his tenure at IU, seemed everybody noticed. He was criticized mightily. Calipari got a free pass.
NEWS. Eastern Kentucky’s Glenn Cosey got himself and Colonels fans one shining moment last week. Ahead of the final horn, the senior banked in a 37-foot shot and Eastern earned a 79-78 win over SE Missouri.
VIEW. EKU owns a shiny 16-7, 7-3 in OVC record; Across the state, Western Kentucky is 15-7 and on a five game win streak. That two old rivals don’t play each other home and home cheats fans and deprives both schools of (ESPN) television revenue.
NEWS. Knott Central High junior Camron Justice withdrew his commitment to Tennessee last week. The 6-2 guard reportedly has scholarship offers from Vanderbilt, Butler, Western Kentucky, among others.
VIEW. Justice’s decision to step-back is opportunity come knocking. Chance to twitter or e-mail with, say, Luke Hancock at Louisville and Chris Harrison-Docks at Western Kentucky. Get advice on finding the right school and best fit to play before making a final decision.
NEWS. Latest attempt to re-ignite interest in the Kentucky-Indiana summer all-star series on this side of the Ohio River: Move it to central Kentucky, Transylvania University.
VIEW. Good move. Now, the hard part.
• Convince state media the Indiana-at-Kentucky game at Transy in June is newsworthy to convince fans to spend their entertainment dollar.
• Underpinning it all: Convincing high school seniors to try out, to wear a Kentucky jersey “against those Hoosiers” is a one-time in life-time honor.

Worth repeating department
Internet fan rant following Kentucky’s game at LSU.
“Over-rated! Harrison twins got away from high school ball and have no idea.
“Time to put a ‘For Sale’ sign in Calipari’s front yard.
“I’m tired of turning rosters over every year. Where’s Tubby Smith when UK NEEDS him?”
And so it goes.