By Ira D. Combs
Tri State Sports Media Services Inc.
What were your first three thoughts immediately after the final horn in "The Swamp" Saturday night? Well, my thoughts were:
No. 1. All you people, especially those amongst the media contingent, will you please finally confess that game officials' decisions many times can and do make a difference in the outcome of games. I’m not saying there is an integrity, moral, or fairness issue here, just that their decisions or non-decisions on the field do decide the outcome of games.
No. 2. I wonder what Damien Harris thought about that game.
No. 3. After three games worth of evaluations, I’m convinced this team has several SEC-style playmakers both offensively & defensively and they are much better across the roster in the all important departments of size, speed, and athleticism. Yet, the Cats are still a few players away from being solidly entrenched into Top 20 status, but UK is close ……… Oh so close to something special.
Actually, if the truth was known only a select few of Big Blue Nation thought a win was possible all the way thru the 1st half then as each minute passed in the 2nd half you could feel the confidence sway from the players (who have been preaching it for several months now) to the old-time non-believers. The poise and confidence Kentucky players showed especially those who had the difficult task of taking care of the football whether it be by pass, catch, or toting the mail has never been seen before by these eyes in that hostile setting.
This may not be the most respectful thing to say about our past but I firmly believe it. Today’s college-age youth whom I’ve learned about, especially in recent years and in athletics, has little recollection and virtually no respect for the past nor do they have any interest in learning about it. Actually that may not be a bad trait to have or develop if you presently don’t have it.
In Mark Stoops' dictionary, I’m guessing, this is progress but as he and all coaches will say after these type games, they are not into moral victories here at UK so we file this one in the books as a tough loss and move on but make no mistake we have entered a new era in UK football, one that maybe none of us has experienced before even those of us over 60.
Now that we have a pretty good idea that this team is more talented and confident than previous UK football teams and since it’s still fairly early in the season there is time to rethink how this season will end. First of all, it’s definitely a possibility this team can be 5–1 or at the least 4–2 at the mid-season point after this upcoming three-game home stand. Yes, South Carolina will be a challenge but I believe Carolina will play more like the team that played Texas A & M than the one that played Georgia when they roll into a ramped up CWS for an October night game .
If this team is 5-1 at the midway point, all bets are off on that four- or five-win season like many predicted and anything can and probably will happen down the stretch run. Buckle up Big Blue Nation I got a feeling Stoops troops are gonna make us all eat some crow by Thanksgiving weekend but it will be the sweetest tasting crow any of us has ever eaten.
College Basketball Pre-Season Magazines Hit The Stands
The Sporting News college basketball magazine is out and I’m sure several others will follow by mid-October. It's interesting that Sporting News will probably be one of a very few publications who will not have Cats tabbed No. 1. That distinction in this publication’s eyes goes to the Arizona “Wildcats” of the Pac 10. SN did pick the Cats to win the SEC with Florida, Arkansas, Georgia, and LSU winding out the top five teams. The Sporting News SEC pre-season all-conference team consist of 10 players of which UK had four (Cauley-Stein, Aaron Harrison and Karl-AnthonyTowns were three of the first four with Alex Poythress being eighth of the top 10).
Also, these publications always have a unique basketball angle of some type for their readers to mull over and make their own decision. This year Sporting News did a conference by conference list of the top venues for college basketball on game day. Another surprise had historic Rupp Arena in second place in the SEC with the Arkansas Razorbacks' Bud Walton Arena in first place and Memorial Gym at Vanderbilt in third place.
If it makes you feel any better, BBN, the yearbook didn’t even have Louisville's The Yum Center in the top three of the ACC. That distinction went to 1) Cameron Indoor Stadium, 2) Carrier Dome and 3) Dean Smith Center.
Big Blue Madness Campout Starts Wednesday at 5:00 A.M. & Ticket Distribution Saturday At 7:00 A.M.
That annual rite of passage that many have felt you must do at least one time in your life to become a card-carrying member of Big Blue Nation takes place starting early this Wednesday morning, Sept. 17 at 5:00 a.m., according to UK officials . That’s when you can sprint across the avenue of champions right square in front of historic Memorial Coliseum and set up your lawn chairs & pup tents to spend a few days of fellowship with other members of BBN to earn the time honored right for select seating at the annual Big Blue Madness festivities which this year will be held on Friday, Oct. 17 at Rupp Arena.
The free tickets will actually be given out beginning at 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning Sept. 20 at the Memorial Coliseum ticket office. So take a few days worth of canned food unless you're skillful at getting friends to save your spot in line while you visit a local Lexington fast food chain on campus. Good luck to those who take the plunge and the advance weather forecast for the Lexington area is very encouraging for an old time camp out Big Blue Style.
You can go online to www.combsbrothersonkysports.com for more information on UK football and basketball as well as KHSAA football and basketball. Combs also can be reached on Twitter @combsbrothers5.