No, no, don't worry. I do not give Thayer Evans the News and Views honor to praise him, I give it to bury him. If you've been under a rock this week, Evans (he of Pete Thamel partnership and Eric Bledsoe/Cam Newton witch hunting) is in the midst of publishing a five-part series for "Sports Illustrated" on the "scandals" going down at Oklahoma State. What are these scandals? Players received money from boosters! (Gasp!) They cheated on tests! (Quelle horreur!) They smoke pot! (No way!) Apparently on Friday, we'll learn that they have sex with women during recruiting visits, a concept so absurd that I may just have to sit down for a second to deal with the shock.
The internet has given Evans' expose a resounding "meh" so far (although, if it was about Calipari, everyone would be drooling over it...I digress), but it's the holes in his story that are becoming the actual story.
Multiple Oklahoma State players are coming forward to deny their roles in the story and claim that they were misquoted. Jason Whitlock, Evans' former colleague at Fox Sports, wasn't surprised one bit by the shoddy reporting, and threw down the smackdown to end all smackdowns earlier this week on the radio:
“ … When I learned Thayer Evans was involved, I just said, there’s no way I’ll read this because there’s no reason to trust this reporter on anything of any substance. If you go back and look at his track record of reporting and the consistent controversy that surrounds his reporting — he made a name for himself at the New York Times by writing these annual stories about some top high school football recruit that he would buddy up to, follow around with a tape recorder and then report what some immature 17-year-old kid said about the recruiting process. These kids tended to come from single-parent families with the mother working and busy, so there wasn’t the normal oversight and anybody with a brain could see the exploitation that was taking place. … It doesn’t surprise me there are sources in this story saying the reporting was heavy-handed and leading. I don’t want to make the whole thing about Thayer Evans, but there’s just no way to avoid it. I’ve worked with him. He’s simpleminded. He’s a hack that can’t write. This isn’t personal, I promise. I have no reason to dislike Thayer Evans personally, and I don’t. But I’ve read enough of his work this guy isn’t qualified for this job and by now Sports Illustrated and anybody else should be well aware of this. ...Let me end by saying this and I honestly mean this without malice. It wouldn’t shock me if Thayer Evans couldn’t spell "cat" and I say in all seriousness.
It's okay, Thayer. Pete will be over soon with a pint of Ben and Jerry's to help you through it. Moving on...
What happened to Louisville Hate Day?
The day before the Louisville football game is typically reserved for Louisville Hate Day around these parts. However, since the Cardinals made some pact with the devil and have had the best year ever, we're going to push that annual celebration back to basketball season this go around. But that doesn't mean we're playing nice. Their team may be good but their fans still suck. We encourage you to share your awesome and embarrassing Louisville fan pictures with us and we'll post the best ones throughout the day.
We're not writing Saturday off as a loss either. While Louisville is ranked seventh in the nation, a fact I can't repeat without hanging my head a little bit, they're not invincible. Sure, they have Teddy Bridgewater, the best thing since sliced bread if you listen to SportsCenter. But even Teddy is human. Beating Louisville would be a monumental upset for the Cats. A signature win for Mark Stoops. Here are three reasons to believe, but also three reasons to beware:
Three Reasons to Believe
It's time for the Year of the Cardinal to end
-- We get it: Louisville had a great year. It's been shoved in our faces left and right. From Kevin Ware's injury to Rick Pitino's nasty tattoo, they became media darlings. And yes, they won the Sugar Bowl, and have bragged about it more than any team in the history of football. (Thanks for nothing, Muschamp.) Louisville's fifteen seconds in the spotlight are almost up. The lights are coming on in Porcini's, so pull up your pants, Cards. The winds of karma are shifting, and after a monumentally terrible year in UK Athletics, we are due.
Stoops isn't holding back
-- I'll admit, after watching Kentucky fall flat on their face against Western, I worried that Louisville would absolutely blow them out. A quick start turned rout against Miami has me feeling better, as do Stoops' comments this week about the rivalry. Whereas most coaches in his position might approach playing the #7 team in the country with an "it's just another game" mentality, Stoops hasn't downplayed the significance of the rivalry one bit. In fact, he says he's going to do everything it takes to win. Kentucky MUST have that attitude going in if they have any sort of shot Saturday. Hyping up the game didn't work against Western, but hopefully Stoops and the players will find the right mixture of excitement and winning mentality along with a chip on their shoulder coming out of the tunnel.
Keep 'em guessing
-- I touched on this on Tuesday night, but one of the few advantages of the two-quarterback system is it keeps the other team guessing. While Maxwell Smith will start, Jalen will be used early and often to keep the Cards on their toes. I loved how Stoops used both quarterbacks in the exact same plays at times just to nail that mystery home. The offense still needs work on keeping up with the Air Raid's pace, but it's the best way to stay in the game. Roll those beautiful Air Raid Sirens.
Three Reasons to Beware
-- In two games, Bridgewater has 752 yards and nine touchdowns. With a schedule softer than Charmin, he's one of the favorites to win the Heisman, and came out of last year's game against UK in the third quarter to relax on the bench. He's not just good, he's really good.
-- Not only that, UK's secondary is, let's say, a work-in-progress. Nate Willis has looked good so far and Cody Quinn is back, and they'll need to do their best and more to keep Bridgewater from hitting his talented, plentiful targts.
-- Teddy's confidence is at an all-time high, evidenced by the way he waved off the punt team on 4th and 2 last week. Apparently that didn't sit well with Charlie Strong, but it's proof that Teddy's not afraid to call the shots, and more often than not, it goes in his favor. UK will have to pressure him and collapse the pocket, hopefully leading to some poor decisions, or even better, Za'Sacks.
One way you can help the Cats out is SHOW UP! I get that it's an early game and the couch and HD TV are very comfortable, but if UK's going to pull the upset off, they'll need you in the stands being loud. The weather is supposed to be wonderful, so go early, wear blue, and be loud.
It's Time to Get Shorty
Football fanatics, forgive us: on Friday, we will dedicate some time to Tyler Ulis, the 5'9" point guard who is expected to commit to the Cats at 8:20 p.m. ET. Ulis will announce his decision in front of his friends and family, and we'll have full coverage. The fact that Ulis is so short still seems to be a BIG DEAL to some fans (to which I direct you to my post earlier about famous NBA shorties), but if he's good enough for Cal, that's good enough for me. Plus, this quote from Jahlil Okafor's coach about Ulis
via TJ Walker is pretty awesome:
"I think Tyler Ulis is arguably the best pure point guard in the country right now," Irvin said. "He's a guy that can get all five guys involved. Speed, quickness, he sees the court unbelievable. I mean, man, he's a great talent. I put him right up there with Tyus Jones actually. Head-to-head competition actually I think Tyler outplayed him. In my opinion if he goes to Kentucky I think Kentucky, they will be doing what they've been doing; year in and year out they've had the best point guard in the country."
(By the way, Okafor's coach says he enjoyed his visit to Kentucky very much, and that the package deal between him and Tyus Jones isn't written in stone.)
Ulis' commitment to UK was the worst kept secret on the internet Thursday, especially when ESPN reported that Michigan State had conceded to pursue “Tum Tum” Nairn instead. Sometimes, I just feel bad for other coaches. Calipari is like the hot girl in the room that turns every boy's head even if they're married, dating, or sworn to celibacy.
The gang will be live from Fan Outfitters in Palomar Center in the morning to talk Louisville and Tyler Ulis, so rest up. We've got some Cards to kill.