Kentucky at 'Bama perfect script for CBS; Do you have a Bucket List?

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By Bob Watkins

Kentucky takes its perfectly scripted perfect record to Tuscaloosa this week. The real season begins for Rich Brooks’ team in the land of football frenzy, mega-tailgate, Bear Bryant barbeque (all visitors) and fan smuggery that Kentucky is another way of saying "let's party early and late."

CBS-Sports cameras will beam the proceedings nationally. Perfect for bowl conversations to come, No. 2 ranked Alabama and upstart Kentucky too.

Here’s how.

Nick Saban has ‘Bama back in poll high-rise early, way early. But the waters have parted perfectly. Southern Cal was shredded last week, the Tide steamrolled Georgia and No. 1 ranked Oklahoma has much to prove. Texas looms Oct. 11.

For its part, Kentucky represents a line that includes East Carolina and Oregon State this year and Appalachian State last year. Teams who oddsmakers list as NL or ya-got-no-shot.

A respectable showing by the Wildcats would set the table for the most important home-stand in the Rich Brooks Renaissance - South Carolina, then Arkansas Oct. 11 and 18.

Script? Perfect.


Oct. 2, 2004. Rich Brooks’ second season. Kentucky was reeling from a 28-16 loss to Ohio University. Fan unrest had gotten louder prefaced by “who IS this guy?”

Today, fans and the media herd believes Brooks could walk on Laurel Lake.

Last week Louisville came from ahead to lose to 23rd ranked UConn and Cardinal fans were squawking at coach Steve Kragthorpe again. Forgetting that Hunter Cantwell, not the coach, threw the game deciding interception, shortsighted fans also ignore that UofL has a legitimate chance to win its next six.

If that happens Kragthorpe will be thisclose to taking a walk on the Ohio instead of being thrown into it.


You have one, right?

Directed by Rob Reiner and starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, the motion picture Bucket List may not have pleased all critics, but its theme inspires us to move tomorrow’s to-do list up a day. Paul Newman’s departure last week was a reminder as are two lines from the movie.

Carter Chambers (Freeman): “Forty-five years goes by pretty fast.”

Edward Cole (Nicholson): “Like smoke through a keyhole.”

So, on one autumn day in Kentucky, an abridged version of my Bucket List. I invite you to construct your own one day soon. 

Before leaving this place, I would like ...

• Conversation with a father who endured the loss of a child, Frank Deford.

• Origins of Rick Reilly’s treasure chest of witticism.

• A walk around Shiloh Battlefield with Shelby Foote’s ghost.

• Another visit to New England and Basketball’s Hall of Fame at Springfield.

• Another trip to Great Britain with stopover at Woodford in Northamptionshire.

• Conversation with Billy Crystal about his Archie ‘Moonlight’ Graham moment, one Big League at-bat.

•  Bob Costas’s view of baseball card collections.

• A Brian Lamb (C-Span) interview with Ken Burns.

• Hike the Cliff Trail at Chimney Rock Park, North Carolina.

• Visit Hole-in-the-Wall Pass, Wyoming alongside Robert Redford.

• A walk-about at Yankee Stadium with sons of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.

• Another weekend series at Wrigley Field. Upper deck, third base side.

• Alaska. Train ride.

• Visit Antietam, Maryland, Yellowstone in Wyoming, and spend a fortnight in Vermont, gingerbread land of covered bridges.

• To photograph America’s most handsome covered bridge.

• Two-hour biographies in video stores - Ted Williams, Larry Bird, Billy Packer and Charles ‘Cotton’ Nash, all documented by Bud Greenspan and narrated by Will Lyman.

• See an in-depth KET documentary on History of Black High School basketball in Kentucky with Louis Stout’s book as starting point and Ashley Judd to narrate.

• Chat with David McCullough about life and times of David McCullough of whom NY Times critic John Leonard wrote, "is incapable of writing a page of bad prose."

• A nothing-is-off-limits chat with: Denzel Washington, Henry Aaron, Wes Studi (Magua in Last of the Mohicans), and Bob Knight.


NEWS. University of Kentucky announced its Billy Clyde Gillispie Camp last week. For $1,500 a man can hang out with UK’s ball coach for a few days.

VIEW. As our economy wobbles and we choose a new leader of the free world soon, perhaps there was a mistake in UK’s press release. Maybe Billy Clyde Gillispie will pay each attendee $1,500 to share their time with the ball coach.

NEWS. ESPN national voice Rick Reilly penned a column last week asking: Does any group take the art of lying as seriously as college football coaches?

VIEW.  Yes, college basketball coaches.

NEWS. University of Kentucky basketball has filled another slot in its schedule. Billy Clyde Gillispie’s Wildcats will host Ouachita Baptist from the Gulf South Conference Nov. 7.

VIEW. Ouachita Baptist is located in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. A shorter bus ride to Rupp Arena could have been a budget-maker for University of Cumberlands, Kentucky Wesleyan or Georgetown College.

NEWS. Allan Houston, 37-year-old ex-New York Knick says he will make a comeback.

VIEW. Wealth is seldom enough to stave off Brett Favre Lime Disease. As in limelight.


Last week I mistakenly wrote that Wayland is in Knott County. In fact, it’s in Floyd County. Thank you Sharon Grozenski of Frankfort.

To all those who e-mailed kind words about last week’s column on a Visit to Wayland, I am deeply grateful. Thank you.

And so it goes.

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