If you were around a television this afternoon, chances are you at least caught a few minutes of the Red Bull jump from space that was one of the most oddly terrifying and fascinating things I have seen on television in a long time. But you also may have heard of the passing of one of America's most noted recent former Senators, Arlen Specter.
Specter served as one of Pennsylvania's two Senators in the United States Senate for 30 years. His career was best noted for being remarkably varied as his role as a moderate Republican found him in the middle of nearly every major political moment of the last 30 years. He was on the Judiciary Committee during contentious Supreme Court nominations and played a major role in keeping Robert Bork off the court and helping Clarence Thomas make his way on. He investigated Iran-Contra, was the main opponent of Clinton's Healthcare plan and found himself as the key Republican vote on Bush and Obama's stimulus plans. His votes were never easy to pin down by party and he seemed the type to genuinely make his decision based upon his beliefs, rather than the party line. Towards the end of his career, his party turned on him and he became a Democrat in 2009 to avoid losing his party's nomination. The same fate however befell him as a Democrat and he lost a primary in 2010. He died at the age of 83, living a public life that began as the prosecutor who came up with the "one bullet" theory as a lawyer with the Warren Commission that became the accepted version of the JFK Assassination and ended as one of the last true Senators able to cross party aisles to get legislation passed. He lived a long life of public service and one that deserving of much respect.
To the news:
--- If ever there was a weekend that better symbolized the dichotomy between the status of the UK basketball and football programs, I don't ever remember it. Big Blue Madness was once again a tremendous show and celebration of Kentucky basketball's status on top of the college basketball world.
An amazing techno-light show that turned Rupp Arena's floor into a big screen dazzled everyone in the arena, as John Calipari's fourth team was finally unveiled. We learned very little during the actual scrimmage that followed, besides the fact that Kyle Wiltjer is going to score a lot of points this season. But the night did remind everyone just how important and historic this basketball program truly is. UK made the tremendous decision to bring back at least one player from every Kentucky national championship team and the sight of players from Wah Wah Jones to Ron Mercer, raising the eight UK banners was one for the history books. And perhaps even more importantly, John Calipari brought Cliff Hagan back into the UK folks, after 25 years in which his name was rarely brought up in UK circles. It was a tremendous moment that symbolized what is great about UK basketball and its important meaning to the Commonwealth. And oh yeah...Kentucky is going to be pretty good this year as well. They may only have 7 that play...but those 7 can play.
--- With such a big night in Lexington, it became yet another recruiting show for Calipari and his troops.
UK had at least 9 recruits on campus (maybe more) and they all seemed to be having a grand old time if you believe their Twitter accounts. Throughout the weekend, all of the nine (which included UK's four 2013 commitments, Marcus Lee, Trey Lyles, Karl Townes, etc) tweeted positive thoughts and their presence was obvious everywhere in Lexington. Per NCAA rule, we cant report on their visit and thus pictures of the recruits out and about at Keeneland and the rest (which you folks sent to us in buckets...we do appreciate it) cant be put on the site. But needless to say, it does seem that everyone had a grand old time. If you werent impressed by the show in Rupp on Friday night, I am not sure what could impress you. And if the difference between UK and everyone else, especially when Kansas had Bill Self on a bike and UNC had players in tutus, couldnt be seen...well then you aren't looking.
--- So much for the good news. Then there was UK football. Saturday may have been one of the lowest days in UK football history.
I know that seems like a strong statement, but think about it for a moment. Arkansas is terrible, coming into the game 2-4 and playing for an obvious lame-duck coach. Yet they pounded UK into submission, leading 28-0 at the end of the first quarter and 49-7 when the game mercifully ended. The Razorbacks dominated Kentucky so thoroughly that UK's best first half play involved faking a timeout and then running for a first down. The Cats looked totally out of sorts and unable to make even the most basic plays. While the team was surely young, nothing excuses the lack of basic skills shown and the defeatist mentality that made the game nearly impossible to watch. I think we all had this feeling:
When the bizarre storm delay began to linger, every UK fan I know, and likely the coaches and players, wanted the travesty to come to an ending. Even though the SEC said such games cannot end until midnight local time, they made an exception for the mauling that was taking place in Fayetteville. Even the SEC league office gave us sympathy and we walked off the field with as low a moment as I can remember. If there was any doubt before, after Saturday, it was finalized. Change has to come. There is just no other way to state it.
--- Going into the seventh game of the season, here is where UK ranks out of the 120 FBS teams in the nation
: 106th (106 yards...Army #1 with 385)
: 93rd (199 yards...Baylor #1 with 398)
: 113th (306 yards...Ok State #1 with 601)
: 112th (18.5...La Tech #1 with 53.8)
: 87th (183 yards...Alabama #1 with 55)
: 111th (149 yards...Alabama #1 with 80)
: 77th (415...Alabama #1 with 181)
: 98th (32.8....Alabama #1 with 7.5)
Not much else you can say. We just can't have this.Our only stat in the Top 30 nationally? Net punting where we are 27th. We do have a hell of a punter.
So as to not end on a negative note, here are two pictures I like from this weekend
. One is of a rival coach getting the three goggles and one is of Bruce Pearl's awful jacket at NC State's Midnight Madness. Both were strong work: