I think at least half of you already like this night post just because of that picture. You're welcome. It's the least I can do, because I know that again, at least half of you are going to be a little frustrated by the amount of football talk in this post. But it was media day, and it's August...so tough it out. Before we get to the news of the day though, I would like to extend a Happy Birthday to an actress who played a character on one of my favorite TV shows of all time, Lost. Evangeline Lilly played the central female figure in the intricately written show, and coincidentally is a huge John Wilmhoff fan. At least half of the information in that last sentence is accurate. Lilly starred in the show as the character Kate, who was in handcuffs being escorted by an Air Marshall for murder charges when the infamous plane crash occurred to kick off the most absurd and addicting show of all time. Lost wasn't a show for the casual viewer. I always tell people that if they want to ever try to get "into" the series, they can't be doing anything else while watching the show. Don't slice bread. Don't check KSR. Don't tweet. Don't throw 3 goggles or you might obstruct your view just enough to miss one of the number sequences that repeated in various ways throughout the show. I'm still not entirely sure that the writers of Lost didn't just pull one over on all of us, seeing how long they could string us along--throwing so many curve balls and twists that were supposed to somehow all interconnect-- causing the masses to speculate about the truth behind it all for years. Literally years. Entire websites were devoted to figuring out the mysteries or how it would all end.
My favorite part of the show were the flashbacks. I loved how in the beginning, each episode would dive back into the past of one of the characters. The flashbacks revealed so much about the characters, while also intertwining many of the plane crash survivors stories. The concept was brilliant. I won't ruin the show for those who might still be catching up via Netflix...but when the writers "flipped the switch" on the flashbacks after a few seasons in the finale of (season 3 maybe? It's all a little foggy), my mind was blown. And also, I still have NO IDEA what it all meant in the end. But I do know that I wanted Kate to pick Sawyer. Jack was a little too goody-goody for me.
And now on to the news of the day...
How are you all? I am doing great. I have been thinking about you a lot since last weekend. A whole lot. How are you doing? (*Tom Crean voice)
- The UK Football Media Day kicked off this morning and I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to attend. I have never been to a UK Football Media Day, and quite honestly didn't know what to expect. As I've mentioned on here before, I am a fairly neutral UK football fan. I don't allow myself to get too deeply wrapped up into the positive or negative arguments. I float somewhere in between, usually able to see some truth to both sides. Perhaps it's because I have never had such an up close experience with the team or the program as I had today, but something changed for me today in regards to this year's football season. I'm on board. I was genuinely impressed with every player who I had the opportunity to speak with, and the ones I eavesdropped on speaking with other media members. They are a likable bunch and they haven't let the negativity and questions about what they are capable of accomplishing bring them down.
Don't get me wrong, they seemed aware. They weren't pretending that the reality was anything other than what it is-- morale is down amongst the fans-- but their team morale could simply not be any higher. They feel confident in the amount of work they have put in during the off-season. They seem hungry and ready to take on the role of a team who no one expects anything from. They have high expectations for themselves. I'm not sure how else to describe it than to say that the team has a very noticeable and intriguing "buzz" that radiates from them as they speak and interact. Of course, all of this is merely perception. I realize that. My perception of this team changed though, and became much more positive and excited for the season after today. The reality of the product on the field may or may not match the perception. But for now, until the season starts-- perception is all that we have. And mine continues to improve.
- Will Joker Phillips' seat get hotter as the season goes on? Will he be the coach next year? Will this team have success in the SEC? Will this team make a bowl game? Will this team beat Louisville? Will Commonwealth Stadium be half full for some of the games? I can't answer any of those questions with any more clarity than I could before attending Media Day. But what I can say is that I think people are going to like some things about this team and the players. There were some big time athletes walking around that field today. I think at least
a few of them are going to be the cause for some enthusiasm and excitement when the season starts.
And now for a few quick hitters/tidbits from Media Day:
- The quarterback competition is on. Joker made it very clear that he has not yet decided who the starting quarterback will be for the Louisville game in September. Four names were mentioned, not just the three everyone expected. Patrick Towles, Max Smith, Morgan Newton and Jalen Whitlow are all in the mix and they all want the spot.
- Patrick Towles has "it." Whatever "it" is that some big time players have when it comes to how they handle the media and situations like this morning, he has.
And lots of it. Towles appeared very comfortable in front of the swarm of media members who coveted his sound bites. He sounded like a seasoned veteran with his answers. The spotlight has been on this kid for a long time, and he knows how to handle it. He looks the part. He acts the part. It will be interesting to see if he gets the chance to play the part this season or if we will have to wait a while for the Towles era to begin. I don't think there is any doubt though that by the time he leaves Kentucky, he will be a very special and memorable player.
- In a bit of news that managed to slip through the cracks, a surprise showed up on UK's roster today. A walk-on who arrived on campus yesterday named Damon Sprouse suddenly became a talked about player. Sprouse was a three-star, 6-5, 255-pound offensive lineman out of Atlanta.
He had offers from Louisville and Southern Miss according to Rivals. Joker wasn't kidding when he mentioned in his news conference that he had players literally walk in the other day. Not a bad walk-up, I'd say.
- Bud Dupree is a big dude. No, really. If you haven't seen pictures of him, just wait. You will be amazed. I think he is poised for a big year.
- Shawn Blaylock is not a big dude. I was a little bit shocked when I saw him walking across the field. I had to check and double check my roster to make sure it was him. I'm not sure he has quite grown into his jersey yet, but hopefully he will put on a little weight. Blaylock is also unfortunately out for the season with a knee injury that will require surgery next week
. Best of luck to Blaylock in his recovery.
- The Marcus Caffey news (he is academically ineligible) is a pretty significant blow, whether or not Joker Phillips wanted to admit it or not to the media.
I think a lot of people assumed Caffey would have a chance to really see minutes this season and Phillips sounded disappointed (though he would not go into great detail with further questions about it) when he had to relay the news.
- The consensus seems to be that the offense will be much improved this season, although I'm not really sure it could go any other direction after the miserable display last season. The staff seems confident that they will have a few big time playmakers, especially with some of the young talent. A few names that continually came up were Demarco Robinson, Marcus Sweat, La'Rod King and Josh Clemons.
- Don't forget that Fan Day is tomorrow for the UK football team. The event begins at 5 p.m.
, with an open practice kicking off around 6. An autograph session will follow, with fireworks at 9:30 p.m. Admission is free and as we've said before, this is a great event especially if you have children. If you don't have children and would like an opportunity to see an open practice before the season starts, this is a great opportunity for you too.
Ready for something other than football? Okay. Me too.
- According to multiple sources on Twitter, Nerlens Noel will be in Lexington by August 19th.
- Tom Crean is creepy.
- Basketball news is rather slow right now to be honest. I know that comes as sad news to many of you. But the spotlight was squarely on football today. With that said, a few tidbits came out today. Torian Graham, a name we talked about in detail a few months ago, appears to be eligible for the 2012 class after most suspected he would not qualify. Graham is still waiting on the NCAA to clear him officially, but by all accounts will be part of the 2012 incoming college basketball freshmen class. According to a source, Graham has mentioned Kentucky
. Graham is a smooth shooting guard from North Carolina.
- Tom Crean is still creepy, and probably reading this from the comfort of his living room couch tonight.
- Evan Daniels brought up the top point guard in the 2014 class today, Tyus Jones, saying that he holds offers from Kentucky, UNC and now Indiana.
We already learned of the offer for Jones from Kentucky a few weeks ago. And we also learned this afternoon from Tom Crean's tweeting that Tyus Jones is probably not going to choose Indiana unless Crean switches up his recruiting strategy.
- Xavier Rathen-Mayes was expected to be on Kentucky's campus for a visit this weekend. As it turns out, Rathen-Mayes was unable to make the trip due to family reasons, but said he will try to reschedule in a couple of weeks.
- Zeke Pike, recently dismissed from the Auburn football team, will be transferring to the University of Louisville.
Write your own joke, if you must. Apparently Pike might make the switch to tight end with the transfer.
- And finally, if you haven't listened to Matt's interview with Joker Phillips from the podcast earlier today, check it out. I eavesdropped on a great deal of it and it's a very candid discussion between the two. You won't be disappointed.
I'll leave you with this. It's a picture I have seen floating around before, but the message someone sent it to me with was great: "How the sun sets in Kentucky..." (thanks, Lankster)
P.s. Sorry Tom Crean, but you threw up the lob. I had to take it.