Sports in Kentucky by Bob Watkins

Posted January 3, 2014 at 2:34 pm


Kentucky 73, Louisville 66.

Fans (and CBS) got their money’s worth at Rupp Arena last week. Louisville at Kentucky was entertainment at its delicious best: Adrenaline, antagonist-protagonist (coaches), passion, rise-and-fall drama, more passion, players appreciated the crowd, then a Bill Keightly “whew, glad that’s over!” joy. For the other side, a few tears, lots of jeers, “we got cheated!” rant then, “How about those Charlie Strong Cards!?”

Beautiful college game. With personal bias toward the idea – “home team should win for sake of those who fill an arena.”

Kentucky 73, Louisville 66.

It served to remind us of these things.

√ Fans shouldn’t have to wait 13 games into a season for a high caliber home game. Until Saturday, neither team had played a home game worthy of their fans. Zero.

Likes of UNC Ashville and Texas Arlington at Rupp Area, and Fairfield-Uncaseville and Missouri-Kansas City at Yum Center were no more than show time for sideline screaming coaches.

Kentucky 73, Louisville 66 observations.

√ Russ Smith’s flying dunk over Julius Randle was large on style points and might have been a five-pointer except it was more a statement of one-on-everybody that counted two.

√ Where a game is played, how it is officiated makes national rankings irrelevant and is a sucker bet for those who believe point spreads.

√ A Louisville newspaper story was bound to tell UofL fans – Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng don’t play here anymore.

√ A Lexington newspaper story was bound to elevate a John Calipari remark into papal encyclical: “We grew up today.”

If Kentucky grew up last week, and UofL too, forgive me, but I am left to wonder – for two-and-half months and 13 games in – two ball coaches who could balance the Bluegrass State’s budget by writing one check each, what on earth have they been doing?


Sports Person of the Year candidates?

1. Teddy Bridgewater quarterbacked Louisville to a 12-1 season, bowl win and earned his college degree.

2. Antonio Andrews at Western Kentucky was first team All-American and led the nation (Football Bowl Subdivision) with 3,161 all-purpose yards, second-highest single season total in history.

3. Rick Pitino led Louisville to an NCAA title and was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

4. Bowling Green High School football team won another state title, had a 14-0 season and extended its win streak to 44 in a row.

Sports Person of 2013 winner is …

The Secret Santa in Louisville.

Insisting on anonymity, a person connected to UofL athletics went to a Wal-Mart in Jefferson County a week before Christmas and paid $13,000 to cover all lay-away items for 169 families. Merry Christmas.


√ In April, second time in three years a team from Kentucky won the NCAA men’s basketball championship. Louisville Cardinals.

√ Rick Pitino. His Hall of Fame induction speech included: “If a person has five great friends in life, then I’m the Warren Buffett (of friendships). I’ve had and have so many. Being at Louisville has taught me what true family is about.”

√ In September Dr. Orlando ‘Tubby’ Smith was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame. A place next to Adolph Rupp.

√ In December Cumberlands University’s football team played in the NAIA championship game. Patriot fans celebrated a 13-0 regular season.

√ Ex-Kentucky player DeMarcus Cousins took more than 100 San Diego-area children Christmas shopping, picked up the tab and gave their families $50 each.

√ Ex-Western Kentucky running back Bobby Rainey, after three NFL teams in three seasons, became feature back at Tampa Bay.

√ In October the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first winning season in 21 years, earned a playoff spot, after which Clint Hurdle and Andrew McCutchen won Manager of the Year and Most Valuable Player Awards respectively.

√ In November at Slugger Museum in Louisville, Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski auctioned his Pirates memorabilia. His family and Pirates charities will share $1.79 million. Mazeroski’s Uniform worn in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series sold for $632,500.

√ E-mail item from a life-long Cincinnati Reds fan in Whitesburg. Recalling Big Red Machine 1970s playoff games with the Pittsburgh Pirates, “… me and a bunch of high school friends, some of whom were Pirates fans, cut class in the afternoons to watch NL playoff games. (But) the best ever was April 4, 1974. Six of us were at Riverfront Coliseum to see Hank Aaron tie Babe Ruth’s home run record. I still have my ticket stub.” – Ben Gish

√ In December, 13 percent of 900-plus Heisman Trophy voters did not include Florida State’s Jameis Winston on their ballots.


√ FOX News reporter Jen Floyd Engel said “We have come to believe, in college basketball nobody is more important than the coach. We have built a Mt. Rushmore of Dean, Coach K, Bob Knight, Jim Boeheim, Bill Self, John Calipari, Rick Pitino, on and on and on while relegating players to props they expertly move around on dry-erase boards. This, too, is a lie.”

√ In July ex-Indiana star Cody Zeller was asked, “Any regrets about going back to college for 2012 season.?”

“No regrets at all. I wanted the college experience and I enjoyed being on campus. College is a one time thing. You can’t get it back.”

√ Former Western Kentucky U. basketball player Orlando Mendez-Valdez said: “Playing in the NBA is the dream of every kid, but as you get older, you start realizing there’s a lot more to life than basketball. That’s the direction my life has taken. Before, basketball was everything to me. But I realize it’s also important to be a good husband and a good father when we start having kids.”


In October John Calipari said “We are borderless. We’re everywhere. No corner is left untouched by the blue mist. UK (is) the gold standard of college athletics. We don’t just play college basketball. We ARE college basketball.”

So, Catch Phrase-of-the-Year for ‘13? Posterize? Sequestration? Duck Dynasty? Obamacare?

My choice: Blue Mist.

And so it went in 2013.