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New age. Kentucky football old-timers have to love it when Rich Brooks gruffs up, turns pit bull after a loss, any loss. The Wildcats boss did his Schwartzkopf best growl & bark after seeing the Alabama game film.
Three Crimson Tide turnovers produced nothing. Grrrrr.
Offensive line failed to open a crack for tiny Tony Dixon, and quarterback Michael Hartline had barely a nanosecond to deliver passes to pass droppers dressed up as pass receivers. Grrrrrr.
Once upon an October, UK losing by three in Tuscaloosa was reason to party. Bring a collective smile at the local Liar’s Club on Mondays followed by a longer than usual pause before someone asked, “So, when’s basketball season start?”
Brooks, instead of self back-slaps about “played ‘em close and made progress,” was having none of it. He growled about poor offensive line play again. And, we think, UK’s commander may burst a blood vessel if Dicky Lyons remains the only receiver tough enough to run a crisp route and catch a pass with soft hands instead of stone fingers.
This week Kentucky begins a season-defining homestand against a South Carolina team it has not only lost to eight in a row, but UK seems to save its poorest 60 minutes of football for the Gamecocks. Grrrrr.
2007 was typical. UK opened with five wins, laid an egg in Columbia, then stunned LSU and went on to an eight-shoulda-been-nine win season.
If Kentucky is to remain this close to a winning seasons hat trick, bowl eligibility and General Brooks’ goal of “being in the SEC conversation,” then a win Saturday is a must.
Meanwhile, an attitude fostered by UK coaches is new age and its working. One that says this close in Tuscaloosa or anywhere else, is no longer good enough.
UK, UofL & RUTGERS
To re-spin cartoonist Walt Kelly’s Pogo the Possum refrain, “We have met the enemy... and he is us,” we suggest, “We have met the enemy ... and he ain’t us!” Spotlight today falls on Rutgers University athletics and kinship with Universities of Kentucky and Louisville.
Three years ago when Rutgers football became what Vandy is today, the new thing, its school officials fell in love with marching bands, pep rallies and soaring ticket sales and allowed their mission statement title to morph from Up East Education to Big East sports.
Rutgers made headlines again last week when professors and students protested a $102 million earmark for football stadium expansion. How keep coach Greg Schiano? Throw cash - $1.6 million pay package, plus $250,000 from Nelligan Sports Marketing.
When protests grew too loud, Rutgers president Richard L. McCormick, became Pogo by creating a financial oversight position for athletics. To play Big Brother, Richard Costello gets $195,000 a year, $15,000 temporary housing allowance and a car allowance, $12,000.
What does this have to do with UK and UofL?
Plenty. UK director of athletics Mitch Barnhart intends to raise and spend $400 million for athletics and Louisville’s Tom Jurich is no lightweight spender either in athletics department arms races. Including an upgrade on a football stadium (more suites).
In these economic times, UK and UofL fans I know watch in wonderment as University athletic bosses throw money. On the other hand, maybe we should be grateful that presidents Lee Todd and James Ramsey have not hired a financial oversight director. Yet.
We wonder why educators at Kentucky and Louisville keep silent as athletic department big spenders and sinister partners (sports marketing firms) make sports the tail that wags higher education’s dog?
We have seen this enemy... and he ain’t us.
Postscript. Five years ago Vanderbilt University president Gordon Gee dumped his director of athletics and merged the department into the Student Life Department. Laughter across the SEC was palpable.
Three weeks ago an AP report said, “Nobody’s laughing now.
“The SEC’s smallest and only private university, and the only one without an official, full-time athletic director, is enjoying unprecedented on-field success...”
Men’s and women’s basketball, football, baseball and tennis. The school bowling team won the 2007 NCAA championship.
Vanderbilt. Place where academics and athletics are in harmony.
Harvard of the South.
Kentucky high school football playoffs won’t be staged at Papa John Stadium next year.
University of Louisville officials appear to have decided compensation for stadium use isn’t enough, and the school no longer needs good-will points that gave rise to a playoff rally cry, “our goal is to play on the carpet in Louisville.”
Next? Bowling Green tendered the only bid for the 2009 playoffs.
Done deal, right? Wrong.
KHSAA commish Brigid DeVries wants to wait. Tour Western Kentucky University’s facilities first.
Why wait? Wes Strader and Gary P. West of the syndicated Wes & West sports radio show based in Bowling Green suggested last week: With sponsorship profits at stake, DeVries may be stalling in hopes UofL comes back with another bid.
Good things come to those who wait. Bill Curry is the Gerald R. Ford Legends award winner for 2008.
The Ford award goes to former centers who “made extraordinary contributions ... proved to be an exemplary citizen, philanthropist and leader in the football community.”
Congratulations to one of the finest gentlemen in sports ever. Bill Curry.
And so it goes.
Have an idea, a question or point-of-view to share, write bob Watkins at SprtsinKy@aol.com