Big Blue Links on this New Year’s Day:
– Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com reports that Texas has interviewed Louisville coach Charlie Strong for its head coaching opening. There were also reports last night that Louisville AD Tom Jurich said he had not been asked for permission by Texas to interview Strong.
– Tim Sullivan of the C-J on Strong and the Longhorns.
Personally, I am having a hard time picturing Strong in a pair of cowboy boots and a bolo tie. Though offshore bookmakers were quick to identify Strong as the leading candidate for the Texas job, and at odds that reached 6-5, it’s not as obvious a fit as Florida would be. That Louisville has won 23 of its last 26 games is a statistic sure to land Strong on a lot of short lists; some, perhaps, in the National Football League.
– I said before I can’t see Strong going to Austin, and I’m sticking with that.
– Sarah Lyall of the New York Times reports on the academic fraud scandal at North Carolina.
In the summer of 2011, 19 undergraduates at the University of North Carolina signed up for a lecture course called AFAM 280: Blacks in North Carolina. The professor was Julius Nyang’oro, an internationally respected scholar and longtime chairman of the African and Afro-American studies department. It is doubtful the students learned much about blacks, North Carolina or anything else, though they received grades for papers they supposedly turned in and Mr. Nyang’oro, the instructor, was paid $12,000. University and law-enforcement officials say AFAM 280 never met.
– Julius Randle earned a helmet from John Calipari for Russ Smith’s dunk last Saturday.
– In his mailbag, Grantland’s Mark Titus says he would rank Julius Randle as the fifth-best prospect in the 2014 NBA Draft. He also says “you’re out of your mind if you think I’m following guys who don’t play college basketball.”
– Jerry Tipton of the H-L writes on Julius Randle’s cramping issues. Jerry talked to local doctor Ben Kibler, a world-renowned expert in sports medicine.
Kibler noted cases of a person suffering leg cramps because of walking flat-footed. Arch supports alleviated the cramping. Athletes with a heritage linked to the Mediterranean region — tennis star Pete Sampras, for example — seem pre-disposed to cramping, Kibler said. Cramping is a good thing. “Muscles cramp to protect themselves,” Kibler said, “because they know if you keep on playing, then you’re eventually going to tear something.”
– The Wisconsin football team reacts to Randall Cobb’s touchdown last Sunday.
– Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports writes on Chane Behanan’s wasted opportunity at Louisville.
The first time I saw Chane Behanan play was in an AAU event in July 2010. Behanan, by far the best player on his team, seemed to have little use for his coach or teammates. During one timeout, while the team huddled on the court, he sat by himself in a chair near the end of the bench, looking the other way. College coaches watching from courtside took notice of the attitude. They also took notice of what came shortly thereafter: Behanan stealing a pass and roaring downcourt to dunk the ball on an opponent’s head, like the McDonald’s All-American he would become in a few months.
– Louisville shook off its loss to Kentucky and whipped Central Florida 90-65 in Orlando. Eric Crawford writes about U of L’s first game post-Behanan.
But the bigger question, at least from fans and media, to U of L players, revolved around the mood of the team after losing Behanan. He was a favorite of his teammates. He didn’t have complete seasons as a freshman or a sophomore. Note — at the end of last season, it seemed as if he’d be supplanted by Montrezl Harrell in the starting lineup at any time, and even took himself out of the Big East Tournament championship game in favor of Harrell. But in the biggest games, he played his biggest.
– Rick Pitino’s post-game comments after the win over UCF.
– Condolences to the family of AP photographer Dave Martin, who died of a heart attack following the Chick-fil-A Bowl last night.
– Here is my notes column for Wednesday’s paper, which leads with a couple of areas no doubt being addressed at Camp Cal.
– As we head into conference play, Jeff Sagarin’s conference rankings.
- 17 Florida
- 19 Kentucky
- 22 Arkansas
- 34 LSU
- 38 Missouri
- 46 Tennessee
- 70 Ole Miss
- 89 Alabama
- 90 South Carolina
- 112 Vanderbilt
- 144 Texas A&M
- 148 Auburn
- 154 Georgia
- 175 Mississippi State
– Larry Vaught writes that Drew Barker is looking forward to competing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday.
“It gives us an opportunity not only to learn the playbook and learn the system before everybody else, but it gives us a chance to work out with the players and get used to school and college in general,” Barker said. “It’s really a good opportunity for us. We had some other commits that actually wanted to come in early, too, but some high schools have restrictions or how the credits are set up didn’t let them. But I am looking forward to it, especially getting with the strength coaches.”
– The remaining bowl schedule.
– We are counting down to Sunday’s playoff game for the Cincinnati Bengals, who have yet to sell out Paul Brown Stadium for the 1:05 p.m. game with the San Diego Chargers. Josh Pichler of the Enquirer says the lack of ticket sales is puzzling.
The Indianapolis Colts, who play Saturday, also are struggling to sell out with about 6,000 tickets remaining. “The wild-card weekend is a tough one. You’re on a short timeline and you don’t know a lot of the teams until the last minute,” Bengals Executive Vice President Katie Blackburn said. “But we hope having the game is exciting for the city.”
– Ex-UK assistant James Dickey, now head coach at Houston, got a big win last night as the Cougars upset Connecticut 75-71.
– Bleacher Report gives its five keys for Kentucky winning the SEC.
– Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron is rooting for Auburn on Monday night. Then again, McCarron’s famous girlfriend went to Auburn.
– Rex Chapman tweet of the day.
Best 5-players I played with who were college stars but didn’t play in the league – E.Davender, J.Blackmon, @LBacon34 , E.Manuel & G.Baughn.
— Rex Chapman (@rexchapman) January 1, 2014
– Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News and Observer writes on that exciting Chick-fil-A Bowl last night.
– Mark Bradley of the AJC on the great Johnny Manziel.
He completed 30 of 38 passes for 382 yards and touchdowns. He rushed 11 times for 73 yards and a touchdown. He led Texas A&M back from a 21-point deficit at the half and a 10-point deficit with six minutes remaining. Yes, the winning points were scored by nickel back Toney Hurd Jr. on a 55-yard interception return, but by all rights the Aggies should have been beaten long before then. That they weren’t was yet more testimony to the inspirational powers of Johnny Football. Afterward he wouldn’t say if he plans to enter the NFL draft, though everyone assumes he will. If this was indeed his final college game, it was surely among his greatest.
– Inside the Hall reports on Indiana’s 83-80 overtime loss at Illinois on Tuesday.
As has been the theme in big moments for Indiana this season — such as in the final seconds against Connecticut and Notre Dame — the Hoosiers were unable to capitalize on the opportunity. The end result: an 83-80 loss that dropped the Hoosiers to a 10-4 record heading into Saturday’s matchup at Assembly Hall with No. 5 Michigan State. “It’s just going to take time for us to understand everything matters, every part of it matters,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said following the game. “We did do some things, obviously, that we’d like to have back.”
– Next five games for the UK women’s basketball team:
- Jan. 2 at Alabama
- Jan. 5 Florida
- Jan. 9 at South Carolina
- Jan. 12 Missouri
- Jan. 19 at Auburn
– These were Bill Raftery’s notes for the Villanova-Butler game he did last night for Fox Sports 1.
— Lindsay Patterson (@lindzpatterson) December 31, 2013
Photo of Charlie Strong by AP.
Photo of Duke-Texas A&M in Chick-fil-A Bowl by Raleigh News and Observer/McClatchy
Links of interest