Notes and links for a Sunday morning:
– Terrific story by John C. Cotey of the St. Petersburg Times on the late Desmond Allison.
By now, everyone knows the tale, of how Desmond, a wonderfully gifted and silky-smooth sophomore starter on the Wildcats’ NCAA-bound basketball team, was pulled over on March 12, 2000, and arrested for DUI and drug possession.
He blew a 0.113, just over the legal limit of 0.10. He later pleaded guilty to the DUI, and the drug charge was dropped.
But his scholarship was gone, despite his pleas. He had begged coach Tubby Smith for a second chance. He cried, and Desmond never cried and may never have cried since.
Had the school not adopted a zero-tolerance policy in 1998 – after football player Jason Watts, whose blood alcohol level was 0.15 when he lost control of his truck, which overturned and killed a teammate and another football player from Eastern Kentucky University – Desmond might have gotten a second chance.
If you remember, then UK AD C.M. Newton adopted the zero-tolerance policy after the Watts crash. The rule was later amended to allow a student-athlete to remain in school, but sit out participation for a year. Now, the university says a player must sit a percentage of his or her sport’s season, with additional penalties left up to the head coach.
– Big story last night was the NCAA releasing a statement saying it did not deny Joe B. Hall the opportunity to coach the Kentucky Pros in the upcoming exhibition game against the Dominican Republic National Team. Instead, the NCAA said that “In reality, the University of Kentucky withdrew its involvement and association with this event due to a conflict with member mandated NCAA bylaws.” University of Kentucky being the subject. Withdrew being the verb.
This prompted Oscar Combs to ask via twitter, “Obviously, NCAA never told UK that Joe B Hall could not coach yet UK made no attempt to correct any media reports which suggested otherwise.” The Big O also called for UK AD Mitch Barnhart to take “a sweeping look at how his staff conducted itself.”
And let’s be honest here, it’s not like Oscar is a huge UK critic.
Dick Vitale tweeted: “the UK AD should offer an apology 4 not revealing THE FACTS! What is the TRUTH? BBN deserves to know!?”
This sparked yet another back-and-forth from UK fans, one of whom tweeted, “NCAA release does NOT deny they were behind JoeB coaching decision. Read release carefully.”
Believe me, I did read it carefully. I’ve read it many times. (This whole thing gives me a headache.) The statement probably reads however you want it to read. If you look at it from a pro-UK respective, you can say that it was still the NCAA by-law that keeps Joe B. from coaching the Kentucky Pros in the game. If you look at it with a more skeptical eye, you can say that UK made the Joe B. decision on its interpretation of the NCAA rule and then was happy to let the Big Blue Nation skewer the NCAA for 48 hours before the suits in Indianapolis made their statement.
BTW, I talked with a UK representative last night who said at this point the school did not have any official comment on the NCAA statement.
All of that, and then there’s the fact that John Calipari told WKYT that his Dominican assistants will coach the Kentucky Pros. And Joe B. Hall is now a Dominican assistant. You could see the twinkle in Calipari’s eye when he made that statement.
– BTW, the Dominican players are scheduled to start arriving at Joe Craft today.
– Speaking of Joe Craft, when we arrived for Josh Harrellson’s media opp on Saturday morning, there was Jorts going through the hallway twirling a couple of kid campers up on his shoulder. We joked that we hoped that the Calipari ProCamp had paid its insurance premiums.
– For my Sunday print column, I wrote that the exhibition game is quintessential Calipari.
– The other big internet story Saturday was Duke’s announcement that it would look into the allegation that head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski may have made illegal contact with Nashville prospect Alex Poythress in offering him a scholarship. UK is also recruiting Poythress. And it’s Duke. So UK fans cheered.
Meanwhile, Jason Jordan of ESPN Rise tweeted, “People kill me with this Duke violation thing. TRUST me, over last week I’ve seen more “violations” than games!”
– In the SEC, the coaches say defensive lines make the difference. Check out Jen Smith’s football notebook.
– The Reds used a five-run first to help beat the Giants 7-2. It was another quality start for Mike Leake. Since returning from a brief minor league stint at Louisville, the second-year pitcher has produced a quality start in nine of 12 outings. Leake is 9-6 on the season.
The Reds go for the sweep of the defending world champs today, but Tim Lincecum is on the hill for the Giants. In his last four starts, Lincecum has allowed three earned runs in 25 innings pitched.
– The Bengals first practice at Georgetown College was postponed from yesterday afternoon to last night. Judging by the TV news coverage, the crowd looked small. But that may have had more to do with the weather.
– Bengal defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer on learning that cornerback Jonathan Joseph had signed with the Houston Texans: “I’ve been in the tank since 6.”
– Happy 34th birthday to Tim Couch.
– You think NFL rosters have undergone huge changes this week, look at Alabama football. But then Nick Saban is pretty much a pro coach.
– John Adams of the Knoxville News-Sentinel writes that Tennessee has been penalized enough.
What else can the NCAA do that wouldn’t qualify as overkill? It could take away a scholarship or two in basketball. If it really wanted to send a harsh message, it also could ban the Vols from postseason play in 2011-12. But that loses its clout once you realize the team looks incapable of playing its way into the NCAA tournament.
In fact, given all the damage that has been done, UT fans probably look toward the impending sentence with a sense of relief, rather than dread. Not only have they lost an outstanding basketball coach and good group of assistants, they have been subjected to almost a year’s worth of bad publicity. None of the long-awaited penalties could be nearly that significant.
– Georgia football was hit with a Level 1 secondary violation for impermissible text messages. No wonder Mike Slive wants that rule repealed.
– Vanderbilt has been asked to change its 2012 football schedule by ESPN so it can open with a Thursday night game against South Caroina.
– Bill Belichick: “I don’t twitter. I don’t MyFace, I don’t do any of those things.”
– Let’s just say my friend Mark Ennis deserves special kudos for the courage he showed Friday night on WHAS.
– Be sure and check out the Herald-Leader’s Readers’ Choice Sweepstakes. We’re giving away a prize a day for the entire month of August.