It is really hard to make me laugh out loud at a movie. I am not sure when this happened and to be honest, I am not all that happy about it. Watching (or listening) to something genuinely hilarious is one of life's great pleasures, but for whatever reason the movie screen rarely does it for me. I can think of at least five tv shows (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Louie, 30 Rock, Veep, Arrested Development) and a number of radio shows (Stern, Kornheiser, Carolla, Ron and Fez) that lead to loud guffaws from me, but when it comes to movies, it was hard to think of the last one that had me lose it in the theater (maybe Superbad, Tropic Thunder or Anchorman). But that was until I saw "This is the End" today. For my money, "This is the End" is the best comedy in at least three years and it isn't even close.
With Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, James Franco and others all playing themselves, "This is the End" is the first movie I have seen in years that had me lose it in the middle of a crowded theater (sitting by myself of course). Now to be fair, it is really dirty, and not the type of movie you would want to see with your parents or virtually anyone that gets easily offended. But if you can make it through those hurdles, the reward is a consistently hilarious movie with golden interactions (the McBride-Franco insult battle is one of the funniest things I have ever seen) and a bizarre premise that is amazingly creative. And interestingly enough, it actually has some religious themes centered around it, including what it really means to be a honorable person, live a good life and be worthy of eternal salvation. It's not perfect (it is probably 10 minutes too long), but I highly doubt I will see a movie that will make me laugh more for some time.
With that, a quick look at the weekend's news:
--- The story of the weekend, as has been the story of the past few weekends is the amazing job done by Mark Stoops and his staff with UK football recruiting.
The Cats picked up three more commitments over the weekend, ranging from 3 star DT Adrian Middleton (who picked UK over UL and is from Kentucky) to 3 star WR Tyre Brady to 2016 OL Landon Young (also from Lexington). The Middleton commitment put Kentucky up to #2 in the rankings, although two late weekend commitments for Tennessee and Texas led them to their current #4 spot. The amazing precipitous rise of UK football up the standings has been all anyone wants to talk about wherever I go and the same question continually gets asked...How is this happening? From my perspective, four things are in play:
1. A Young, Hungry, Energetic Staff:
When you meet the guys on this staff, one thing is obviously clear...they are excited and PASSIONATE about what they are doing. With the possible exception of Neal Brown and Bradley Pevuto, every one of these guys is taking on more responsibility than they ever have before and they are reveling in the opportunity. They are young, energetic and their goal is to shock the world to win here. If you spend two minutes with Vince Marrow or Tommy Mainord, you can't help but want to buy what they are selling. Any time spent with Stoops or Brown reveals a strong belief in the possibility of the future and an understanding that a plan is in place to turn around Kentucky football. That energy is contagious and the recruits are feeling it.
2. Ohio Has Become Kentucky North
: UK right now has seven commitments in the 2014 class from Ohio and more are coming. Why? Well first because Kentucky has targeted the state, something that didn't use to happen. But more importantly, the staff they have in place has major ties in the area. Stoops and Marrow are both from Ohio and have been recruiting the area for a long time. For Marrow, he is able to tell players that he was trying to convince to come to Nebraska, why not stay in Kentucky, which is much closer to home. That is a huge advantage that can then be added to the SEC selling point to make the Cats a player in the state. Ohio State may rule the state, but if UK could just become a solid second, then they will be rolling in players for years to come.
3. Drew Barker and Other 2014 Recruits
: I am not sure I have ever seen a recruiting class do more to try and get other players than this group has done. We have of course seen it most obviously with Barker, who is trying to organize the class on his own, calling the top guys and becoming the leader. He has written about his efforts on KSR and behind the scenes, he is taking on the role of Class President. But others are playing a role too, including Thadeus Snodgrass, who has been working the phones to try and get people to Lexington. That combination has made the UK commitments feel like an exciting club and when another joins, their collective voice only gets stronger.
4. UK Fans Making Their Voice Heard
: I am confident that there is no fan base that has a stronger online presence than that of the Big Blue Nation. This showcases itself in many forms, from sites like this to the number of clicks UK articles get to the massive amount of UK fans on Twitter. But ultimately where we are seeing some of the strongest proof of UK fans' presence is in the world of recruiting, where players continue to talk about all the "BBN love" on Twitter. Multiple players have commented on the showing of the UK fans and the 50,000 plus fans at the Spring Game made clear that (as Larry Vaught has always said) UK can be a football state. Recruits notice it and it matters.
None of these are of course solely determinative and there are other factors as well. But they are a big part of what we are seeing now in Lexington...the best recruiting run that UK football has ever had
...and hopefully it is just getting started.
--- On the basketball side, the business of basketball recruiting is about to pick up.
I will freely admit that I have lost some of my passion for basketball recruiting, in part due to the UK FB success, but also due to Calipari's domination in the area. Simply put, in a world where John Calipari tends to get almost whoever he wants, it is hard to get too worked up about following any one player. To put it another way, UK lost out on the best high school recruit since Lebron this past year...and guess what, they are still the favorites to win the national title. Ultimately, UK will be fine.
With that said, now is the time that 2014 college basketball recruiting kicks into high gear. Kentucky now has Karl Townes in the class and is trying to complete the group with other top talent.
Over the course of the next week, we will introduce you to more of those players and give you a sense of where UK is headed. It does look as if Kentucky may be expanding the group of offers it has currently given (7 or 8 depending on who you ask), in part because some of the top offers could be difficult to lock up. With Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones considered a long shot by some, and a school of though suggesting Trey Lyles may be drifting from the Cats, the next few weeks could see a different look for the 2014 targets. It is an interesting class for UK...one has to assume some of the stocked talent in this class will return but the question is how much. While the 2014 class has not held much interest for me yet, I think it will pick up quite a bit through the end of June and July.
--- We are one week from the KSR RADIO TOUR kicking off
and most of the locations are finally set. Here they are:
: Prestonsburg......Stonecrest Golf Course
: Williamson, WV....Historic Coal House
: Whitesburg........Pine Mountain Grille
: Pikeville.........East Ky Expo Center
: Columbia..........Burger King
: Jamestown.........The Cove Steakhouse
: Somerset..........Mr Gatti's
: Monticello........Conley Bottom Resort
: Augusta, Ga.......PEACH JAM
: Augusta, Ga.......PEACH JAM
: Augusta, Ga.......PEACH JAM
: Bowling Green.....TBA
: Madisonville......Hudson Toyota Chrysler
: Morganfield.......Verlie's Restaurant
: Owensboro.........Don Moore Toyota
: Glasgow...........Glasgow Country Club
: Danville..........Bluegrass Community Bank
: Maysville.........Big Rock ATV Park
: Lexington.........Lexington Legends
Hope to see you at one (or more) of our stops. Finally, we are still going over the KSR WRITER APPLICATIONS...we will be contacting those we are interesting in taking with further by the end of the week. Thanks to all who applied...the quality of applications is really unbelievable...you guys are very talented. And tomorrow on radio, UK COMMIT Stanley "Boom" Williams will join me on the show
. Make sure and check it out...until then, here are some UK fans at the Calipari Father-Son Camp this weekend: