By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 25th, 2019 @ 10:30am
Yesterday morning, former Kentucky basketball star Tony Delk posted on Instagram that he was “training and advising” current Wildcat forward EJ Montgomery during the NBA Draft process.
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On Friday night, Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader caught up with Delk about his time with Montgomery, who said that he thinks the Kentucky freshman will ultimately leave his name in the NBA Draft.
“I think he’s staying in,” Delk said. “Just from what I’ve been hearing. He’s already had a couple workouts with teams. So I guess he’s got some good reports from GMs.”
While he added that he doesn’t believe the decision is set in stone, Delk did say that Tuesday would be a huge day for Montgomery and his future.
The reasoning? The 6-foot-11 forward will be participating in a Pro Day in Santa Monica, California, where several NBA teams will be in attendance to see what he has to offer.
“A lot of GMs will be there,” Delk said. “I think that will be the determining factor. They’ll get a chance to see him up close with other guys, and see how his shooting is, see how his lateral movement is, see how his ball-handling skills are.”
While he says he would “love” for the Fort Pierce, FL native to go back to Kentucky for a sophomore season and thinks he would have a tremendous year, Delk understands that the decision is entirely up to Montgomery. Teams love drafting on potential, and the ten-year NBA veteran certainly thinks he has a lot of it.
“I’ve talked to him and I’ve talked to mom and dad. Gave them words of encouragement and words of wisdom. It seems like it’s a him-decision,” he said. “I told him, ‘You don’t make a decision for your parents. This is your life. You have to hopefully make the right decision. Also knowing it’s a learning process. You’re still young. There’s a lot to learn. Hopefully, if he stays in, he gets drafted by the right organization.”
Montgomery has until Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. ET to withdraw from the NBA Draft and retain his college eligibility. With his Pro Day taking place on Tuesday, it looks like we’ll be seeing yet another decision at or close to the final deadline.
By Nick Roush on ©May 25th, 2019 @ 10:00am
For those who have never had the pleasure to spend time with Shaun T, consider yourself lucky. To everyone else who has interacted with Satan’s spawn, God bless you.
This week Shaun T has transformed into public enemy No. 1 at the Roush house, thanks to his new exercise program Transform: 20. You probably recognize his work in Hip-Hop Abs, Insanity and the temptation of Christ in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights.
As he tries to motivate my wife and I through grueling 20-minute workouts, we respond appropriately — with curses. It’s not just that Shaun T kicks your ass physically. He completes every workout with ease while constantly spouting out punch-in-the-face worthy motivational talk.
“Transform your life!” Push Through!” “I know you can do this!” What a monster.
Is Shaun T keeping me alive longer with the power of aerobic exercise? Yes, but at what cost? This is one deal with the devil I’d prefer not to make. Although after one week of work, I might as well see it through.
Even if you don’t hate Shaun T, I’m sure you love the long holiday weekend. Here’s what’s on the docket.
UK Softball Trails in Super Regional
The first night of UK’s west coast Super Regional did not go according to plan. Plagued by untimely offensive droughts, when the Cats could not put it together, Washington made plays. Kentucky left nine runners on base before ultimately falling to the Huskies 3-0.
To keep their Women’s College World Series hopes alive, UK must respond with a win tonight to force a decisive game three. First pitch is at 10:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
The EYBL is in Dallas
The top basketball prospects in the country are playing in the Lone Star state. There will not be the same buzz in Texas as there typically is on the recruiting trail. It’s currently a quiet recruiting period, which means coaches cannot evaluate prospects in person. Even though we won’t see who UK’s coaches are recruiting, Jack Pilgrim can provide you a few stats and highlights from UK’s top targets at the event.
Since he walked into the 2018 PGA Championship with his hat on backwards, Tiger Woods has his swagger back. That fully came to form when he won this year’s Masters. This isn’t the same old Tiger. He’s physically lost a little bit, but he’s become more open with fans. Once an untouchable star, now he feels like one of us. Nothing illustrates it better than this video that surfaced yesterday (WARNING: it features a few bad words).
This is the greatest video I’ve ever seen. (Tiger says a naughty word too so heads up.) ?? (credit to Adam Weinraub on Insta.) pic.twitter.com/tNcVIwEHpP
— Tiger Tracker (@GCTigerTracker) May 24, 2019
Can Raptors Clinch in Game 6?
It’s Toronto’s opportunity to drive the nail into the Milwaukee Bucks’ coffin. Leading 3-2 in the seven-game series, a win tonight would put the Raptors in the NBA Finals for the first time. Can Drake carry them to a W at home? We’ll find out at 8:30 on TNT.
Billy Ray has a Maserati sports car
Since acquiring ‘Old Town Road’ fame, Lil Nas X has remained generous. Yesterday he rewarded the man who helped propel his song to the top of the Billboard charts, Kentucky native Billy Ray Cyrus.
— nope (@LilNasX) May 21, 2019
Stay Away from Mt. Everest
I hope you spend your Memorial Day weekend somewhere warm near a body of water. I do not advise you spend it near the summit of the world’s highest peak. So many people are trying to climb Mt. Everest at once, people are dying. There have been three deaths in the last week. This picture by climber Nirmal Purja is astounding. Ecology, man.
If you do decide to spend time next to a warm body of water, I do have one sound recommendation. Everybody do the Weekend Dance! Everybody do the Weekend Dance! If you won’t do your Weekend Dance, I will. And I’ll keep this song stuck in my head for another week.
Have a safe and spectacular Memorial Day weekend.
By ShopKSR.com on ©May 25th, 2019 @ 9:45am
Posted in Main
The KSR Shop and Kentucky Branded have a neat gift offer right now. Through Monday, you can register to win a Kentucky-Americana gift set valued at $100! Package includes a watercolor racing flag, Kentucky graphic tumbler, Kentucky watercolor flag tee, and a fun Kentucky trivia book.
But that’s not the only offer this Memorial Day weekend. The KSR Shop and Kentucky Branded are also offering 20% off on everything else.
Hurry and sign up for this great gift package before Monday. Also stock up on KSR, UK, and State Pride apparel to complete your summer wardrobe.
By Brent Wainscott on ©May 24th, 2019 @ 11:45pm
Kentucky is at risk of being bounced in the Super Regional for the third straight year, as they are shutout by Washington 3-0.
The Wildcats have been an offensive juggernaut, but tonight their bats went cold on a brisk night in Seattle. On an uncharacteristic performance, the Cats left eight runners in scoring position in the shutout.
Taran Alvelo mowed through the Kentucky line up during her 3.2 innings of work. She only allowed two hits and walked one in her half-game performance. Gabbie Plain came in for Alvelo’s relief when Kentucky had runners on the corners in what was honestly a brilliant move by the Washington coaching staff.
Alvelo throws hard from the circle, usually clocking in around the high-60’s low-70’s, so when Kentucky was starting to make their adjustments in their second time through the lineup, Washington turned to Gabbie Plain who stays in the low-60’s which caused the Cats to have to go through another adjustment halfway through the game.
Kentucky just couldn’t make that adjustment as evident by the shutout.
While Kentucky’s top of the order was quiet, going a combined 1-10, Washington’s top of the order scored a run each time through the lineup.
In the first time through the lineup, Washington got on the board before ESPN could even figure out how to properly broadcast the game on a sac-fly by Samie Reynolds that scored Sis Bates.
On their second time through, it was Bates turn to get the RBI as she singled to put Washington up 2-0 in the third.
And finally on their last time through the order, Washingtons power hitter Morganne Flores clobbered a ball down the left field line for her 22nd home run of the year.
Grace Baalman, who has been battling tendonitis in her throwing tricep, was credited with the loss tonight as she gave up three runs on five hits through five innings of work.
Kentucky will look to even things up tomorrow to keep their season alive tomorrow night in game two from Seattle, Washington. Last season, Kentucky took game one to have Oregon win two straight. Hopefully, it’s Kentucky’s turn this season. First pitch is at 10:00 pm ET on ESPN2.
By Nick Roush on ©May 24th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
Kentucky’s name is usually thrown into the bottom of the barrel throughout college football talking season. That has changed after a ten-win season that culminated with a Citrus Bowl victory over Penn State.
Most preseason prognosticators forecast based on attrition and potential. Pro Football Focus uses an advanced algorithm that rewards teams for overachieving, a.k.a. beating teams they probably should not. That’s my best attempt to explain their methods in layman’s terms. Here’s how they describe the formula:
The Elo algorithm updates a team’s rating dynamically through using the outcome of a game versus what was expected to happen in a game, assigning bigger bumps to teams that upset great teams than teams that narrowly beat teams for which they are big favorites. The PFF version uses PFF grades for every facet of play to derive what the score of a game should have been based on an ensemble of models that weigh positive and negative plays in said facets.
Even though Kentucky is losing Josh Allen, Benny Snell and its entire secondary, Mark Stoops consistently put his team in a position to win in 2018, regardless of circumstance. That’s why Kentucky is the preseason No. 19 team in the country, according to PFF.
Four UK opponents also crack the Top 25: No. 4 Georgia, No. 8 Florida, No. 15 Mississippi State and No. 17 Missouri.
Typically the preseason press clippings are nothing more than motivation for a UK team that carries a chip on their shoulder. There will be plenty more of that over the next 99 days, but it feels good to be in the mix, if only for once.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©May 24th, 2019 @ 10:30pm
KSBar and Grille is the place in Lexington to catch University of Kentucky games (pre and postgame too) as well as other events such as the NBA Playoffs, UFC fights, the World Cup, MLB games, PGA tour events, and more.
KSBar might be known for their smoked wings but don’t miss out on the brisket platter, fried katfish, chicken and waffles, and the great assortment of burgers. Start off with the house chips loaded to the ceiling smothered with pulled pork or chicken straight off the smoker topped with the house BBQ sauce.
Head to the KSBar and Grille website ksbarandgrille.com to see a full menu and drink list.
Be on the look out for different specials and events.
KSBar and Grille is located at: 1030 South Broadway, Lexington, KY 40504
You can be a part of KSR’s Top 10 Tweets by using hashtags like #KSR #BBN or #KSRtop10. You can also nominate tweets by mentioning them with the hashtag. If we like what we see, it could be posted the next day.
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#10 Reese Sherrow
— Reese Sherrow (@Reese_sherrow) May 24, 2019
#9 Matt Jones
In more positive news, we are on our way to Mt Vernon for KSR….our first trip to Rockcastle County
“Putt for Prison” has raised $21,500 and counting. Ryan has 3 more nights to serve next week, one with me and @DrewFranklinKSR locked up as well
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) May 24, 2019
#8 Lynda Clark
— Lynda Clark (@lynclark) May 24, 2019
#7 Amber Smith
Good luck to @UKsoftball tonight in their first game of Super Regionals!! Let’s take care of business this weekend and show what #BBN is all about!! Everyone tune in and support!! #WeAreUK pic.twitter.com/HmzOdm9IDh
— Amber Smith (@CoachA_Smith) May 24, 2019
#6 KY Clips
15 years ago Tayshaun Prince chased down Reggie Miller for one of the greatest blocks in NBA history. #BBN
— KY Clips (@KY_Clips) May 24, 2019
#5 Andrew McGinnis
— Andrew McGinnis (@AndrewMac529) May 24, 2019
#4 Kentucky Athletics
— Kentucky Athletics (@UKAthletics) May 24, 2019
#3 Dillon M. Webb
— Dillon M. Webb (@CaptainDHook) May 24, 2019
#2 Stephen Hunt
I know he has made his share of mistakes. Big ones. But he served his time and needs to be welcomed back with open arms by the #BBN. Richie will always be an “Unforgettable” and “The Pride of Clay County” to me.
— Stephen Hunt (@Incredible_Hunt) May 24, 2019
#1 Drew Franklin
I wish we talked more about tacos and early 2000s trap music tbh
— Drew Franklin (@DrewFranklinKSR) May 24, 2019
Follow me on twitter and tag me in one of your tweets for a chance to make KSR’s top 10 tweets: @ZackGeoghegan
By Zack Geoghegan on ©May 24th, 2019 @ 10:00pm
Golden State Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins participated in full-contact scrimmages with the team on Friday, according to The Mercury News.
Cousins has been out since he suffered a torn quad back on April 15 but returned to practice on Thursday and is expected to be back sometime during the Warriors run in the 2019 NBA Finals. Potentially even by Game 1.
In the article by Darren Sabedra, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said he could not remember the last time Cousins scrimmaged.
Cousins did not speak with reporters on Friday but told them on Thursday that he’s in “a lot better place”. His teammate, Steph Curry, also said he thought Cousins looked much improved from his injury over a month ago.
“He looked good considering what he’s been through the last year and a half, having not been on the court for almost a month,” Curry said. “He’s making strides.”
Cousins played in only 25 total minutes through two games in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs before injuring his quad.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©May 24th, 2019 @ 9:30pm
As you all might have heard by now, our friend Ryan Lemond has been sentenced to hard time at KSJail after failing to make a five-foot putt. On Friday’s episode of Hey Kentucky!, we get a firsthand look at the mistreatment that the inmates of this restaurant turned penitentiary have to experience once convicted of heinous crimes.
In the rest of the episode, Matt and Drew are On The Road in Mt. Vernon discussing Mitch McConnell, marijuana laws in Louisville, and that time Tubby Smith supposedly boxed Evander Holyfield. Check it out!
By Zack Geoghegan on ©May 24th, 2019 @ 9:00pm
The NBA released its list of fifteen players named to the three All-NBA teams for the 2018-19 season and one notable name left off was Karl-Anthony Towns. The absence will cost him $32 million in future contract incentives.
The NBA’s latest Collective Bargaining Agreement incorporated the “supermax contract” – or Designated Veteran Player Extension – given to elite-level players who have to meet a certain set of criteria in order to qualify. Had Towns made any of the All-NBA teams this season, he would have been eligible to receive up to 30 percent of the Timberwolves current salary on the extension he signed back in September. Instead, he’ll only receive 25 percent of the team’s salary. The difference between that five percent turns out to be roughly $32 million, or $158 million over five years instead of $190 million.
Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker and Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard both earned the supermax by being named to the third- and first-team All-NBA, respectively. And like Towns, Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson and Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal will all fall short of the criteria to be eligible for the supermax after missing out on All-NBA teams.
$158 million is still $158 million. But $190 million is an absurd number. While I personally didn’t pick Towns to make the All-NBA team as a center (I went with Joel Embiid [first-team], Nikola Jokic [second-team], and Rudy Gobert [third-team]), he had more than a legitimate argument. Considering everything he went through this season (Jimmy Butler, coaching change, etc.), Towns posting averages of 24.4 points and 12.4 rebounds per game while shooting nearly 52 percent from the field and 40 percent from deep is damn impressive.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©May 24th, 2019 @ 8:30pm
Kentucky assistant coach Joel Justus sat down with TJ Beisner during the latest episode of the Behind Kentucky Basketball Podcast. Justus mainly talked about the incoming recruits and how he perceives they’ll be received by Kentucky fans along with their character and even a little bit about their basketball skills.
You can listen to the entire 24-minute podcast here on SoundCloud, but if you don’t have the time for that, here are some of the highlights.
Justus spoke highly of each player as an individual person and not strictly as basketball players. He sounded particularly excited about how much fun these kids appear to be around and talk with.
“This is going to be the second year in a row where you’ve got some great personalities,” Justus said.
He touched on the most recent addition to the class, Johnny Juzang, and how he could be one of those hidden gems type players. A guy who wasn’t as highly sought after when he came to Kentucky but quickly proved to everyone he belonged. Think Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in that sense.
“He joins a group of guys that have come here with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder,” Justus said. “to say I want people to say, ‘Man, I knew you were good but man, I didn’t know you were that good.’ And Johnny is in that group.”
Juzang’s sister is also apparently an incredibly talented singer.
Keion Brooks stood out to Justus, as well.
“I remember the first time I saw Keion I don’t think he was in the same place twice,” Justus said. “He was at the high post, he was at the elbows, he was on the baseline, he brought the ball up the floor, he rebounded, they put him in the post, he was being moved around and I said if this isn’t positionless then I don’t know who is.”
Check out the full podcast if you have the time. There’s a ton of cool insight regarding the players and how they are perceived by their new coaches.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©May 24th, 2019 @ 8:00pm
Tyler Herro possesses one of the finest shooting motions you’ll ever see out of an NBA prospect. But one thing you don’t notice when watching him nail triple after triple is that his arms are unusually small for a player his size.
According to Jonathan Givony of ESPN, Herro recorded the shortest wingspan measurement of any player at this year’s NBA combine. Standing at 6-foot-6 with shoes on, Herro’s wingspan topped out at 6-foot-3.
On the other end of the spectrum is the dreaded “negative wingspan,” which is somewhat rare among NBA players. Here are the shortest wingspans relative to their height. pic.twitter.com/sPYK1sop2P
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 16, 2019
It’s incredibly rare to see a prospect – especially one as gifted as Herro – with a wingspan that is significantly shorter than his height. Typically, a shorter wingspan is comparable to when a player’s height and arms equal in length. However, Herro wasn’t blessed with that attribute and it doesn’t appear to have hampered his shooting abilities one bit. The only area it will noticeably hurt him is on defense when he’s swiping for loose balls and guarding quicker and smaller guards.
P.J. Washington actually recorded one of the longest wingspans at the Combine. His wingspan stretches past seven-feet despite him standing at 6-foot-6 without shoes.
One of the most interesting things to study with the measurements is comparing players height without shoes w/their wingspan. You often hear NBA scouts saying “he’s a plus X”. Talen Horton-Tucker is a huge outlier in the context of our database, which has thousands of entries. pic.twitter.com/dyvQCExTw2
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 16, 2019
There was always this (unnecessary) red flag surrounding Julius Randle and his “Tyrannosaurus Rex” build. Randle has obviously since become a dominant player in the paint despite his “small wingspan” (talking down on Randle’s 6-foot-11 wingspan compared to his 6-foot-9 height is just nit-picking, anyway). Randle could use longer arms to help protect the rim, but he never came into the league with the identity of being an elite shot blocker.
By Adrian Bryant on ©May 24th, 2019 @ 7:44pm
[Spoilers for “The Blue Scorpion” follow.]
At midnight this past Thursday, the comedy music troupe The Lonely Island dropped a visual rap album (think Beyonce’s Lemonade) called The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience. The “visual poem,” as they refer to it, centers on the eponymous Bash Brothers Mark McGuire (Akiva Schaffer) and Jose Canseco (Andy Samberg) and their use of steroids to propel their skill as Major League Baseball players. In the song “Focused AF,” Canseco engages in a question-and-answer breakdown with McGuire that reveals their true motivations for ‘roiding out: “Where is the limit? / There are no limits. / And what is the goal? / To make dad love me. / To make dad love me. / [In unison:] To make dad finally love me!” One of the album’s latter songs “Daddy” is directed to both of the athlete’s dads: “Got much bigger, faster, stronger, Dad / Hit so long / But you always want it longer, Dad / ‘But therapy’s for losers, little boy / therapy’s for losers.'”
Oddly, the incredibly hilarious Bash Brothers is a much more successful portrait of obsession and daddy issues than The Twilight Zone’s newest episode “The Blue Scorpion.” But instead of focusing on steroids as a coping mechanism, the addiction that controls Jeff Storck’s (Chris O’Dowd) life is a gun. Jeff is at the lowest point in his life, staying with his dad while he goes through a divorce that he can barely afford. When he returns home one night, though, Jeff finds that his father has committed suicide. During the police investigation Jeff is presented with a gun and asked to confirm whether or not it was his dad’s gun. Jeff is confused at the sight, as his dad was a “hippie” that loathed guns his entire life.
The gun, gold-plated and stamped with rose-pedal imprints with an ivory grip featuring a blue scorpion, soon entrances Jeff. Once he sees the gun, he grows more paranoid and distrusting of the world. Every man he runs into is named Jeff, and even one of his students reports a feeling that the objects in her dorm are communicating with her. The gun itself (named The Blue Scorpion), Jeff finds out from a gun shop owner named Bob Jeff, was once owned by Che Guevara and has only been owned by six people before Jeff. “The legend is,” Bob says, “you don’t find [The Blue Scorpion], it finds you.” Any bullet that Jeff loads into The Blue Scorpion’s cartridge is engraved with his name. As the gun radiates some sort of mystic energy, Jeff begins to believe that he cannot trust anyone. All he can trust is The Blue Scorpion which came for him.
“The Blue Scorpion” seems to be leading its viewers to see Jeff’s sanity as crumbling due to the gun. Given the leftist politics of the show so far, it’s expected that the episode is going to condemn guns and advocate for either a ban on guns or further restrictions. And I think the episode believes it is doing that. Peele’s closing narration bemoans human tendency to treasure objects more than human life, which is a not so subtle message that the U.S. is more caring about the rights of guns than people who die from them. But the ending of the episode’s plot shows Jeff using the gun to kill a neighborhood house-invader after the invader tries to break into Jeff’s car. Once the invader is killed, Jeff is praised in the newspapers as a hero and is granted a position as the Chair of his university’s Anthropology Department. Everything works out perfectly for him thanks to the gun, but Peele’s narration claims that the gun has led to great tragedy.
But where is this tragedy? My best guess is that “The Blue Scorpion” is saying that instead of everybody focusing on the death of the invader and mourning the loss of life, they are celebrating his demise at the hand of a gun. I could buy that if the show treated the invader with any amount of sympathy. He dies and the cops are like, “Oh, great job killing this dude,” and that is as much time as is spent on him. There is a large incongruity between Jeff’s ending as a character and Peele’s narration that I cannot square. Even though the episode claims to be anti-gun its plot delivers an oddly pro-gun story.
The Lonely Island’s Bash Brothers toes a similar line as it consistently refers to the players’ use of performance enhancing drugs. But McGuire and Canseco are portrayed as broken buffoons who retreat to baseball as a way to, albeit unhealthily, deal with their fathers’ rejection of them. While the piece ends with the Oakland Athletics winning the World Series, we know that their use of steroids is not being promoted as a means for success. “The Blue Scorpion” tries to do the same thing – showing Jeff’s rise and success because his obsession with the gun but not endorsing the gun as a path to success – but it fails tremendously.
If anything distinguishes “The Blue Scorpion” from the other political episodes of The Twilight Zone, it is that it drops the ball so hard in its messaging that it ends up romanticizing the very thing it means to attack. Its embellishment of the gun with mystical properties makes the gun come off like a well-meaning genie rather than the deceptive demon it is meant to be depicted as. It is hard to tackle to the anti-gun argument of the episode because it fails so hard at making that argument. The previous episodes of this show have been bad, but they have at least had a clear message; “The Blue Scorpion” cannot even make it to that low-bar.
Episodes of “The Twilight Zone” are available exclusively on CBS All Access. For more of Adrian’s piping hot-takes and foolish opinions on pop culture, follow him on Twitter @APBryant32.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©May 24th, 2019 @ 7:30pm
Over at The Stadium, they recently released a report detailing the recruiting expenses that the University of Kentucky has invested into its men’s basketball program. Spoiler alert: it’s a lot of money.
The report posted by Andy Wittry, which details expenses charged by the coaching staff from Sept. 1, 2016 – Jan. 30, 2019, goes through every recruitment visit that head coach John Calipari and his assistants have traveled for. So how much does the most historic program in all of college basketball spend on consistently bringing in the top-ranked freshmen year in and year out? The total just for flying tops over $1 million.
From Sept. 2016 – Jan. 2019, the University spent over $1.2 million on private flights visiting recruits such as Zion Williamson, Mo Bamba, Kevin Knox, Nick Richards, and hundreds of others. In total, the report claims that Kentucky spent close to $1.5 million over the same time span on recruiting expenses – $90,000 on commercial flights, $33,000 on rental cars, and nearly $5,000 to park at Blue Grass Airport.
The article also lists plenty of other interesting tidbits on what these visits have resulted in. Such as how four members of the staff racked up 232 flights just in 2018. Or how Joel Justus spent time watching prospects in Argentina and Chile. Or how Billy Gillispie’s recruiting budget in 2009 was $289,000 compared to Calipari’s 2016-19 annual budget of over $605,000.
All that money sure has paid off though. Kentucky currently boasts the second-best recruiting class in 2019 and has finished second in all of the previous three seasons along with number one the year prior to that. As long as the team keeps winning, the budget will only increase.
By Hayden Adams on ©May 24th, 2019 @ 7:00pm
After participating in the 18th bowl game in program history—a 27-24 Citrus Bowl victory over Penn State—and landing just the second five-star recruit since 2002 (when Rivals.com began ranking recruits) in Justin Rogers, Kentucky football is riding high. While the recent success is cause for celebration, the program cannot rest on its laurels. This is a pivotal point for the football program, one where they can take the next step and gain recognition as a legitimate national competitor. The key to achieving this is for the program to schedule tougher non-conference opponents.
Being a member of the Southeastern Conference means Kentucky has an inherently difficult schedule, and with eight SEC opponents every year and a home-and-home series with Louisville, UK’s non-conference flexibility is limited to three games. Also, the Wildcats prefer to play two out-of-conference games at home, and they are not yet to the level where premier opponents would be willing to travel to Lexington. Essentially, this means that there is only one game available per year, and that Kentucky would have to make the trip.
Still, were the Cats to volunteer to travel to tough road venues, it would show a willingness to seek out the best competition, which would help improve their national reputation and give the Big Blue Nation a chance to visit some historic stadiums. Also, a tough out-of-conference game would help prepare the Cats for when they travel to hostile environments within the SEC.
So, if Kentucky is willing to take the next step by scheduling better, here are five theoretical opponents the program should consider adding to its schedule to increase its national profile:
5. Any decent Pac-12 team
A prerequisite for being a national program is putting together a national schedule. Washington and Oregon have each made the College Football Playoff, Washington State is a consistently solid program and USC, while in the midst of a rebuild, has one of the richest histories of any football program.
The Pac-12 has been down in recent years, but the conference should be looking to reinvigorate their own national reputation by getting opponents from other Power 5 conferences, particularly the SEC, to compete with their teams. The Cats would have a good chance of winning against any opponent, despite the trek from Lexington to the west coast. Recording a marquee win over a big-name school could open up a new area of recruiting for the program and finally allow UK to travel west of the Rockies.
4. Ohio State
It would be a long shot not only for the Wildcats to win this game, but also for them to simply schedule it. Ohio State is in the upper echelon of programs and already look to schedule a tough Power-5 opponent every year, so they may not be inclined to add an on-the-rise Kentucky team to their non-conference schedule.
If the matchup does occur, the fact that Kentucky and OSU constantly vie for Ohio prospects would provide plenty of intrigue for the matchup in terms of future recruiting battles. Also, should the Cats actually prevail in Columbus, it would not only aid in terms of recruiting but be one of the greatest moments in the history of Kentucky football. It’s just a shame that Ohio native Benny Snell wouldn’t be on the UK roster to add to the hype.
3. Notre Dame
Notre Dame is arguably the most historic program in the history of college football. They have recently scheduled an SEC opponent annually, facing Vanderbilt in 2018 and Georgia in 2017, with a rematch scheduled this season in Athens. If the Wildcats want to throw their hat in the ring, the Irish could be a willing participant.
What’s more, playing in Notre Dame stadium could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for UK fans, coaches and players. Notre Dame is a brand that Kentucky should strive to match, and scheduling this game would improve UK’s profile among even casual college football fans.
2. Penn State
Kentucky’s victory over Penn State in the Citrus Bowl proved they could compete with top-tier programs. That victory may have left enough of a sour taste in the Nittany Lions’ mouths for them to want some revenge.
Happy Valley, much like Columbus (Ohio State) and South Bend (Notre Dame), is a premier environment for players and fans to experience. Also, the Nittany Lions are another program that consistently competes with the Cats for Ohio recruits. Another victory would give Kentucky some extra cachet when recruiting against Penn State, and give the Cats experience with a tough road test. Plus, Mark Stoops handing James Franklin another loss, this time on his turf, would be a nice bonus.
1. West Virginia
This is the top choice on this list because it is probably the most realistic to achieve and would arguably be the most intriguing matchup on paper. The relative proximity of the two schools would make it a convenient trip for the fans, while Mountaineer’s head coach and Boyle County native Neal Brown’s stint as a wide receiver and offensive coordinator for the Cats already provides an interesting link for both programs.
Brown has put together a high-powered offense, as is typical of Big 12 teams, while Mark Stoops is a defensive-minded coach who has molded the Wildcats into a stout test for any offense. This game could provide the college football equivalent of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, but most importantly, WVU might be the most willing program on this list to arrange a home-and-home series, allowing the Big Blue Nation to see a Big 12 opponent come to town.
College football schedules are set years in advance, so it could take several years before any of these matchups becomes available. However, that means that the athletic department must act swiftly to ensure they can schedule a difficult non-conference opponent. Doing so would pay dividends for the program on the recruiting trail and help develop the Cats’ national profile—and possibly give basketball a run for its money in the Bluegrass.
By Nick Roush on ©May 24th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
In his first week with NFL vets, Lonnie Johnson’s teammates left the Houston Texans’ practice fields impressed with the rookie.
The 6’2″ 213-pound second round draft selection from the University of Kentucky was picked primarily based on potential. Still relatively new to the cornerback position, he showed in OTAs that he has the ability to be an NFL cornerback. Johnson just needs to refine his skills.
“He’s a real big kid,” second-year safety Justin Reid told the Houston Chronicle. “He’s a big kid, almost bigger than me. You see it when he plays. You see it on the practice film. He knows how to use it as well, which is one of the good things about having good corners, is they know how to actually body receivers, especially if they’re going against a big guy. He’s someone that we can see as a potential matchup for those type of situations.”
He wasn’t just getting praise from his teammates. John McClain, a Houston Chronicle columnist (not the NYPD cop who saved lives atop Nakatomi Plaza), pointed to Johnson as one of his overall standouts from OTAs.
“Rookie cornerback Lonnie Johnson looks and acts like a big-time prospect, but he’s still feeling his way and unable to react instinctively, like all rookies at this stage,” McClain said.
If Johnson continues to grow as a player, we’ll hear No. 32 called early and often on Sundays.