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Train-wrecked Kentucky: Eat humble pie, man-up and move on

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By Bob Watkins

Humble pie comes to us all. Last Saturday, near 2 o’clock eastern time SEC East south-bound Kentucky was struck by a north-bound coal train called Florida at sonic speed. 63-5.

By 2:45, as jubilant Gator fans flapped their arms and clamored for more from the Urban Meyer diesels, three things happened.

First, Steve Ortmayer, the special teams coach, got a chin job from Rich Brooks after which he looked as if he’d been hit by a blocking sled.

Next, Brooks took off his headset and stared as if to say, “I’m 67. I could be somewhere fishing.”

The ‘new’ UK football was confronted by an old story. A stock market collapse. Another 60-something whuppin’ at the Swamp.

Then, as Mike Hartline’s first throw of the second half went for a touchdown, Florida’s, Kentucky’s preparations began for Mississippi State this week.

UK’s boo-bird element, rightfully furious, should pause for a History Minute. A dozen years ago, 1996 at Gainesville: Florida 65, Kentucky 0. A month later, UK had beaten Georgia, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt in succession.

63-5 is still one game.

“... (this is) part of the cascading effect that can have a real negative attitude on your football team,” Brooks had said following the Arkansas game. “I find it interesting that (coaches) get more phone calls after a loss on the call-in shows than you do after a win.”

Because, coach, this is Kentucky where glasses have been half empty for generations.

What now? Kentucky coaches earn their pay this week. While fans clamor for Hartline be thrown from the train and Ortmayer sent packing, Brooks will coax his players to take their bite of humble pie, hang together, man-up and move on.

Life is a humble pie waiting to happen. Next. Mississippi State.

LOUISVILLE CHARGE!

Bowl eligibility? Think Louisville. While Steve Kragthorpe critics have gone Christmas shopping, the Cardinals clipped South Florida, have a three-game streak that reasonably could become six, and are on track to ranking and a bowl invite.

And, to the astonishment of a few UofL bleacher coach geniuses, a name on the Big East coach-of-the-year list could be, Kragthorpe.

Who knew. Right?

UofL, UK HOOPS

College basketball debuts this Saturday. Things to look forward to ...

• Louisville. Loaded? Embrace RPF (Rick Pitino Formula) will tell us how soon speed and rhythm are married to team-ness. Da Coach could introduce his best rotation since Walter McCarty was a stringbean. Watch how Cardinals use 40 minutes against Georgetown College, then Northern Kentucky this Saturday and next.

• Kentucky. In a three minute interview on ESPNU recently coach Billy Clyde Gillispie used the word excited like a kid at Christmas. He believes he has something special this season. With size, depth and skill level, could be.

Western Kentucky. Forecast as a Sun Belt middle-of-the-packer, the Hilltoppers season will be about two things - how Ken McDonald excites WKU’s fair weather fan base, how quickly he rebuilds and who he recruits.

• Louisville and Kentucky. That neither state power is picked to win its league title is pressure-relief left to UConn, Tennessee and Florida to look over their shoulders.

• Newcomers. Anyone else anxious to get a look at Samardo Samuels and Terrence Jennings at Louisville, DeAndre Liggins and Josh Harrellson at Kentucky?

NEWS & VIEWS

NEWS. Kentucky fans yowling “Play Randall Cobb!”

VIEW. At 67, Rich Brooks knows when, where and how to use a gifted 18-year-old. I am reminded of 1972 when Fran Curci hesitated to throw his prize into the fray too soon, Sonny Collins. In 1996 a chant burned Bill Curry’s ears.Turn the Deuce loose, Tim Couch.

So far Brooks has ignored critics because he knows the brutal SEC schedule is a marathon not a sprint. And throwing Mike Hartline aside has more ramifications than fans realize.

NEWS. Randy Sanders has been mentioned as candidate for head coach job at Chattanooga.

VIEW. Kentucky’s quarterback coach can do better.

NEWS. Ex-UK player-turned-SEC-official Wilbur Hackett Jr. was embarrassed when television talking heads alleged he took a shot at South Carolina quarterback Jeff Garcia during the LSU game.

VIEW. Steve Spurrier’s reaction was first class. Carolina’s coach agreed with SEC officials that Hackett was in position and contact was incidental.

LIGGINS LAND

In seasons gone by Kentucky fans have seen killer clever point guards wear enemy uniforms. Georgia’s Sundiata Gaines doing a juke job, Nick Calathes penetrate and feed, and Devon Downey’s stop-and-go.

Change has come. UK may have its own mercury quick backcourt man to swoon over. At 6-6 DeAndre Liggins is taller than Gaines, as clever as Calathes and cocksure as Downey.

A heady and instinctive rookie, how quickly Liggins settles in, beats his man off the dribble and gets the ball to Patrick Patterson by flash instead of slow mail, could catapult the Wildcats into everybody’s popularity polls.

Welcome to Liggins Land.

WORTH REPEATING

With politically correct preamble, it was quite a mouthful come from Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau Sports Sales Director Amy Cardwell after the KHSAA Board of Control voted 14-1 to stage its high school football playoffs in the Warren County city next year.

“Louisville has done a fantastic job and set the bar very high for this event,” she said. “Our goal is to create a new experience and allow each one of these student athletes to feel like a superstar when they arrive in Bowling Green.”

Every player a super star? I like it.

And so it goes.

Have an idea, a question or point-of-view to share, write bob Watkins at SprtsinKy@aol.com