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SEC Headlines 7/24/12

1. Georgia coach Mark Richt said the Bulldogs are interested in Penn State’s players.

2. Georgia AD Greg McGarity hopes lessons are learned from the Penn State story.

3. Some schools have already begun aggressively pursuing some of Penn State’s players.

4. One SEC school started its pursuit Monday morning, according to ESPN’s Mark Schlabach.

5. If a school wants to land Penn State running back Silas Redd, it will likely have to battle Southern Cal.

6. Ole Miss tight end Jamal Mosley has been suspended after another arrest.

7. Here’s a sneak peek of Mississippi State’s new football uniforms.

8. Will Mississippi State pursue Penn State players? Here’s an early look.

9. Michigan – Alabama’s opening opponent – has suspended its starting running back.

10. Will Auburn see Clemson’s star wide receiver Sammy Watkins in the opener?

11. Here’s a podcast with SEC coaches Gene Chizik, Gary Pinkel and Kevin Sumlin.

12. Tennessee coach Derek Dooley knows why people speculate about his job.

13. LSU coach Les Miles is showing confidence in quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

14. South Carolina basketball forward Carlton Geathers will have right knee surgery.

15. Florida coach Will Muschamp will go through the “Car Wash” at ESPN on Tuesday.

16. Some Penn State players will decide to leave. Here are some possibilities.

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SEC Headlines 4/28/12

1. The NCAA chose not to add on to South Carolina’s self-imposed penalties.

2. Once highly-touted quarterback Phillip Sims has decided to transfer from Alabama.

3. Another Alabama defender, this time Courtney Upshaw, went quickly in the NFL draft on Friday.

4. Recruits were paying attention to Alabama’s success in the draft on Thursday night.

5. Here’s a look at the SEC defenders selected in the NFL’s first round.

6. Tony Barnhart of CBSSports.com believes Nick Saban’s team is helping provide hope to Tuscaloosa.

7. One writer believes former Gator Janoris Jenkins – taken by St. Louis - will be the next Pacman Jones.

8. Outside of Jankins, Florida saw its draft drought continue into the second day of the draft.

9. Here’s a preview for Texas A&M’s upcoming spring game at Kyle Field.

10. We’ll get a new look at Texas A&M’s defense on Saturday.

11. Mark Wiedmer of the Chattanooga News-Free Press shows us a nice side of Tennessee coach Derek Dooley.

12. Bill Belichick believes former Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette will be productive in New England.

13. Arkansas hasn’t had any receivers selected in the draft. That will change today.

14. Matt Hayes of Sporting News believes it’s time for college football to finally land a commissioner.

15. The LSU Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved an expansion of LSU’s Tiger Stadium.

16. SEC coaches can use the NFL draft as a three-day recruiting tool.

17. Former Georgia offensive lineman Cordy Glenn will help where needed in Buffalo.

Extra:

18. Here’s a look at the conference champion only idea for the future BCS.

19. Here’s another preview of Missouri’s offense as it enters the SEC.

20. Vanderbilt coach James Franklin will surely use Casey Heyward’s drafting in recruiting.

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UK Ready To “Shock The World”

The folks in Lexington are optimistic.  About football.

Well, at least the football team is optimistic.  Take these comments from sophomore linebacker Alvin “Bud” Dupree:


“We’re going to be a surprise team.  People don’t really expect Kentucky to have a good football team, but we’re going to work hard this spring and in the offseason.  We’re going to get bigger, faster, stronger. … We’re going to be a good team and shock the world, shock the fans.”


My first thought after reading that quote was of the movie “Patton.”  When an underling tells Field Marshall Erwin Rommel that he’s “optimistic” about the Germans’ chances against combined US and UK forces, Rommel replies coolly: “You can afford to be an optimist.  I can’t.”

But in UK’s case, head coach Joker Phillips — while not quite so exuberant as his young linebacker — also promised improvement. 

“Don’t give up on this football team,” he said when asked what he would tell Wildcat fans.  “We’ll battle; we’ll fight; we’ll scratch; we’ll claw.  Just don’t give up on this football team.”

Got that, Cat fans?

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UK’s Team Goes Pro; How Will They Be Remembered?

In the end, there was just a smidge of suspense.  John Calipari sitting with his five prize underclassmen at a press conference last evening told the media: “Let me just say that Anthony (Davis) and Doron (Lamb) and Terrence (Jones) have decided to put their names in the NBA draft, so they will do that.”

And then a pause.  UK fans’ hopes rose.  Until Coach Cal spoke up again…

“And Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist) and Marquis Teague have also decided to put their names in the draft.  I was trying to scare some coaches out there, that’s all I was doing.”

Ha-ha. 

With a national title and Banner #8 captured and hung, Wildcat fans are probably in such a good move that Calipari could have said, “They’re all staying… psyche!” and they would forgive him.

So the five underclassmen expected to turn pro will now do just that.  Saying goodbye, they hit all the right notes of togetherness — “We wanted to do it together like we did everything together” — and family — “I’m going to miss playing with these guys… it’s a brotherhood we created.”

And the talk will now turn to two other things.  First, whether all five youngsters plus senior Darius Miller will somehow find their way into the NBA’s first round.  Two years ago Calipari said UK landing five first-rounders was the best day in the history of Kentucky basketball.  (Here’s guessing a few Cat fans disagreed with that sentiment.)  What will he say if a full one-fifth of the NBA’s first-round draft picks come from Lexington?

Second, what about next year?  Well, already Davis is saying that next year’s UK team could be as good as his squad.  But Calipari is downplaying such talk:


“On this team, we had Terrence Jones, Doron Lame and Darius Miller.  All players with Final Four experience coming back.  Next year, we have one guy (Kyle Wiltjer) with any experience.  That’s it.  Everybody else either hasn’t played or played very little.

For some reason, we’ll be ranked very high.”


For some reason.  Yeah, like an Elite Eight team, a Final Four team, and then a national title-winning team all built in the same general fashion.  Next year’s Cats should be dominant, high-flying, and fun to watch once more.

But what about this just-departing bunch that The Louisville Courier-Journal has tabbed “The Farewell Five.”  This team of so many underclassmen who’ve entered the UK scene, stayed there for less than a year, won a championship, and then bolted… how will they be remembered?

And that’s the downside to Calipari’s way of doing business.  If you happen to view it as a downside.

There are no long-term strings attached.  Yes, Cat fans got their crown back and they love the guys who brought it home, but how much love can you feel for players who come and go so quickly?  It’s the college basketball version of professional free agency.  It’s tough to connect to what amounts to a rent-a-player.

Let me be very clear, I’m not talking about right now in the immediate afterglow of a championship.  I’m talking about the year 2032, for example.  Will Kentucky fans be able to easily recite the names and numbers of the 2011-12 title Cats? 

Old-timers can tell you all you want to know about the ’96 and ’98 teams.  They watched those guys over the course of multiple years.  There were “The Unforgettables,” four mostly homegrown products who over the course of their careers led Kentucky basketball from the NCAA doghouse back to center stage.  Richie Farmer, Deron Feldhaus, John Pelphrey and Sean Woods were all seniors in ’91-92 by the way.

Ask the real Kentucky bluebloods and you’ll hear tales of Joe B. Hall’s squads and Adolph Rupp’s. 

But what of the Calipari era?  Kids are coming and going at a pretty brisk pace.  As the mists of time cloud memories over the next couple of decades — and trust me, those mists do make things a lot more cloudy — will folks in the Commonwealth remember that John Wall was on this team and Marquis Teague was on that team?

UK backers know Pelphrey’s exploits because they heard of him for four years and they literally watched him grow up.  Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, Brandon Knight, DeMarcus Cousins… they all came and went quickly.

This is not an indictment of Calipari’s system, mind you.  The goal is to cut down nets and he’s already cut down quite a few nets in his three years at UK.  But I do wonder if all these guys won’t start running together in the collective memory of Kentucky hoops fans down the road.

That could be the give that goes along with all the recent taking in Lexington.


UPDATE — The national columnists are tackling UK’s long list of departees.  Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com writes that this bunch of one-and-doners have ended some myths and created a big legacy.  Meanwhile, Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports says a new group of stars is ready to take their place.  Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News says next year’s bunch will have a vastly different look.  And ESPN.com’s Dana O’Neil pens the obligatory “don’t blame UK for the one-and-done rule” piece.

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Kentucky Players Will Announce Plans Tuesday

Five Kentucky basketball players will announce their plans regarding the NBA draft at a press conference on Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern time.

Sophomores Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb and freshmen Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague will all attend the press conference. So will coach John Calipari.

All five players are expected to announce they’re leaving Kentucky, according to Gary Parrish of CBSSport.com. Each player, along with departing senior Darius Miller, has a chance to be drafted in the first round.

As Kyle Tucker of the Louisville Courier-Journal pointed out, the fact that all five players are announcing together could be a sign of their plans.

And if all five players decide to leave, Calipari will be just fine with it.

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Report: UK’s Jones To Declare For NBA Draft

This year’s NBA draft is expected to be littered with Kentucky underclassmen.  Today, Dan Rieffer of Lexington’s WTVQ-TV is reporting via Twitter that Terrence Jones will be the first Wildcat to make his plans officially known:


“Not that we don’t already know, but ABC 36 had confirmed Terrence Jones will declare for NBA draft.  Announcement could be as early as tmrw.”


If Jones does declare, we’ll have more coverage tmrw.  (What hath Twitter and texting done to Shakespeare’s English?)

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Calipari’s Latest UK Class Thinks They Can Win A Title, Too

During John Calipari’s remarkable three-year run at Kentucky, we have praised him repeatedly for his ability to take the blue chip stars off of high school teams and quickly create in them a team-first mentality and work ethic.

He draws praise because that’s just not an easy thing to do.  Which means sooner or later it’s likely that UK’s coach will land a group that doesn’t believe in unity or doesn’t understand the work it takes to earn a title.

And his current group of all-star signees are already talking about titles and success.



Alex Poythress:  “You’re following in the footsteps.  They’re setting the standard high, so you’ve got big shoes to fill.  And I feel that we can fill them.”

Nerlens Noel:  “Just the success (UK has) had with younger players going out there and winning a national championship, that’s not easy with five or six freshmen.  Just seeing what they did with that, and what Coach Calipari dos is real successful, and I think I can go there with Archie (Goodwin) and Alex and Willie (Cauley) and be successful the same way they were.”

Archie Goodwin:  “We’re going to be able to work together.  I know we are because (Noel is) a team player and I’m a team player and Willie’s a team player.  There are going to be a lot of amazing things that happen.”


For now, the smart money is on Calipari to turn this crew into another Elite Eight or better squad.  But eventually, the odds are he’ll sign one or more players who aren’t team-first guys.  Chemistry is important.  This year’s UK team had it.  An eighth championship banner was captured.

But whether the next wave will have that chemistry remains to be seen.  (And before any Cat fans email to point out that Goodwin said they were all team players, have you ever known anyone to say, “I’m a me-first” player?)

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ESPN’s Knight Gigs UK Fans

In his role as an ESPN analyst, ex-Indiana coach Bobby Knight spent most of the season ignoring Kentucky.  He failed to list them among his weekly list of America’s five best teams.  He would call them “that team from the SEC” until finally cracking and calling them by name late in the year.

Speaking to a group of Indiana fans this weekend, Knight fired another shot at the Wildcats, specifically at their fans:


“Kentucky managed to get irritated over that because I mentioned them as the SEC team rather than Kentucky.  Well, they might not have known that Kentucky was in the SEC.  I thought that was always a possibility with them.”


Knight also called the current one-and-done rule — which has so benefited the Cats — a “disgrace.”

Whenever I see or hear Knight three words come to mind regardless of what he’s saying or doing: Miserable Old Coot.

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Three UK Defenders No Longer With Football team

Two left on their own.  One was shown the door.  But overall, Kentucky is down three players from its defense today.

According to The Lexington Herald-Leader, defensive end Justin Henderson and linebacker Tim Patterson left of their own free will.  Henderson played in four games last season as a redshirt freshman.  Patterson was running as a third-team linebacker this spring.

Delic was given the heave-ho by Joker Phillips for the dreaded “unspecified violation of team rules.”  Like Patterson, he did not play last season for the Wildcats.

Henderson was listed as a second-string end.

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Writer, Izzo Says Race An Issue With Anti-UK Backlash; Both Are Wrong

Yesterday, William Rhoden of The New York Times examined the “outrage” that has followed Kentucky’s winning of the national championship in basketball with a team featuring several one-and-doners.  Personally, while I have seen and heard debate about whether or not the one-and-done system is good for college basketball, the term “outrage” seems a bit strong to me.  But Rhoden took things much further than that word:

“If the core of the Kentucky team had been made up of white players with phenomenal athleticism and acumen at every position — operating in the context of a largely black sport — we would not be hearing the complaining.  Their success would not be seen as a debasement.  The team would be celebrated and feted — as Butler was, as Gonzaga used to be.”

Since this is a family site, let me just call “poppycock” on that one (but a stronger word is bouncing around my skull).

This writer doesn’t deny the existence of racism in the United States today.  It’s real.  Sadly it will always be real.  This nation will never, ever completely wash away the stain of its great original sin — slavery.

Some blacks will always mistrust whites and see persecution even where none exists.  Some whites will always mistrust blacks and claim America to be racism-free or — even more ridiculously — racist against the white men of our nation.

But the one-and-done issue has absolutely zip to do with race.  The one-and-done rule is a bad rule.  Period.  So says NBA commissioner David Stern.  So says the man who’s prospered the most by it — Kentucky’s very own coach, John Calipari, who said last week he’d like to see it changed.

Butler and Gonzaga are ridiculous examples for Rhoden to use in his argument.  Those schools weren’t applauded because they had more caucasians on their rosters.  They were cheered because they are tiny schools that most people never hear of outside the month of March.  Gonzaga has an enrollment of just 4,700 undergraduate students.  Butler — in whose gym the film “Hoosiers” was shot — has an undergraduate population of only 4,000.  Butler and Gonzaga were the Davids trying to take down the Goliaths of the hoops world.

But more importantly — and this renders Rhoden’s comparison totally moot — Butler and Gonzaga didn’t build their programs with three consecutive classes of one-and-done athletes.  He’s comparing apples to oranges.  Lumping Butler and Gonzaga into a comparison with Kentucky is absurd.  And Rhoden — a brilliant writer — must know that.

Unfortunately, Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo went along with Rhoden’s black/white nonsense.  When asked “if he thought a highly talented, highly athletic team of white players would be viewed differently,” Izzo said:


“I want to answer that as honestly as I can.  I think it would be different.  I hate to say that.  It’s sad for me to say, but it’s probably the truth.”

That’s hardly a definitive answer.

If there is outrage over Kentucky’s winning of the national title — and again, I’ve seen nothing I would call “outrage” against UK — it likely has more to do with these two facts:

1.  Kentucky is the winningest program in college basketball history.  Many fans don’t like dynasties.

2.  Calipari is about as popular outside the Bluegrass State as Hepatitis-C.  There aren’t many college basketball fans who root for Coach Cal, fair or not.

The system is the issue here, not the color of Kentucky’s players’ skin.

A year ago, Connecticut won the NCAA Tournament.  Their biggest star was Kemba Walker who left school following his junior year and entered the NBA draft.  Their other stars last year were freshmen Jeremy Lamb, Shabazz Napier, and Roscoe Smith and sophomore Alex Oriakhi.  All were black, but all except Walker returned to school.  Do you remember outrage over UConn’s title?  Neither do I.

Black athletes winning and then leaving early is an issue.  Black athletes winning and then staying in school is not an issue.  Clearly, the trouble is the leaving early part, not the black athletes part.

The one-and-done system is bad for basketball.  Race has nothing to do with it.  Shame on Rhoden for trying to marry the two.

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