Sports in Kentucky by Bob Watkins

Posted September 11, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Best player quote last week, until Johnny Manziel opens his mouth about Alabama this week, came from Willie McNeal, wide receiver at Western Kentucky.

“We shot ourselves in the foot.” he said after the Hilltoppers turned a 3-0 lead into half-dozen turnovers, five in succession, and a 52-20 loss at Tennessee.

The Hilltoppers did not stop at one shot. Nor were there enough feet in Western’s loss. A loss more than a Tennessee win – look up total offense and time of possession numbers.

Louisville. Put a hurt on Eastern moved the Cardinals to within six spots of No. 1 Alabama. Can they fly higher? With this schedule?

Kentucky. After promise of an Air Raid that was more a train wreck in Nashville, signs of blossoming new life. Possibles for jersey sales at the book store – Timmons … Kemp … Badet … Montgomery … Blue (of course), and more to come.

Equally important, a performance to reassure February commits on the direction of Mark Stoops’ Process.

Footnote: How many Kentucky fans feel differently about chances against Florida and Tennessee?


Western Kentucky. Could be A Big Show on the Road. South Alabama is fresh off posting 41 points against Tulane while giving up 39 to the Green Wave.

Louisville at Kentucky. Well now. A Governor’s Cup match that may not facilitate ‘overwhelm … stomp … bury’ descriptives to headline writers after all.

Teddy and the NASCAR has a clever checkered flag ring, doesn’t it? I like it.

Louisville’s season theme “looking for perfection,” goes to Lexington after two qualifying heats. An “amp up the RPMs, boys,” call to a starting line in Commonwealth Stadium is A-plus for fans.

The Cards began the week favored by 7.5. In 48 hours spread was 10.5. If Charlie Strong’s No. 7 ranked Cards dispatch Kentucky, then UofL fans may see a snow storm before they see their team favored by less than 10 again this season.

PREDICTION: Noon kickoff – Teddy Time versus Air Raid – could stretch into sunset hour. Maybe an entertainment dandy, 49-35, NASCAR Cardinals.


Rick Pitino’s speech at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Sunday was, on scale of 10, a six. But, as ever Da Coach had notables.

• Last among them, presenter Dick Vitale was limited to head nodding.

• “If a person has five great friends in life,” Pitino said, “then I’m Warren Buffett. I’ve had and have so many.”

• “Being at Louisville has taught me what true family is about. Tom (Jurich) is my best friend.”

Note: Without naming him, Pitino included his sports information director for praise. Kenny Klein has long been one of the best in his profession and remarkably adept doing his work and staying in the background.

• Jamal Mashburn came to Kentucky ‘because his mother told him he was gonna play for that Knicks coach.’ “I told him I wasn’t the Knicks coach anymore and he said, “she said that doesn’t matter. I’m playing for you.’”

• “Being at Kentucky (eight years) was different than anything I ever experienced. Coaching there taught me how to deal with pressure. Was eight years of Hall of Fame experience.”

• “We won a national championship. Then, one of my brilliant assistants took over and won another (Tubby Smith).”

• Then, as often happens with Pitino, full of himself, he fired a couple shots at Kentucky.

1. While at UK he said he literally delivered his daughter. “They don’t care about malpractice down there anyway.”

2. Going to meet C.M. Newton about the UK job, Pitino told his wife he was “going on vacation.” She replied, “who goes to Kentucky for a vacation?”


A fan wrote last week to express outrage with Richie Farmer’s plea bargain. “Two years! Ridiculous,” he wrote. “If it were you or me, instead of just another corrupt politician, the sentence would be 10 years and no plea deal, period.”

Ironic, the exaggerated attention Richie Farmer has gotten for quarter-century. Dating to press conference at Clay County High in spring 1988 to announce he would sign with Kentucky, all the way to now.

Beyond his inclusion with the Unforgettables, Farmer’s prime legacy at Kentucky is no more than humor grown out of Rick Pitino answering a recurring question on Big Blue Line “what about Richie’s playing time?”

Any conversation that rises to a level of discussion about his number hanging in Rupp Arena, is absurd. In light of questions below, any mention of Farmer’s ball jersey is laughable.

Waiting for answers?

How will Farmer’s sister, also convicted, recover from the scandal?

Will Farmer’s children and ex-wife live down the disgrace?

How will two years in federal prison affect a man who stole almost half a million dollars from Kentuckians, many of whom adored him?

How will convicted felon Farmer pay taxpayers the six-figure restitution part agreed to in his plea bargain?

Beyond these things, any Richie Farmer discussion is out of proportion, exaggerated.

And so it goes.