Fan Fare: Hindsight makes 2010 all so clear

Year's opinions, Predictions filled with hits and misses

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistJanuary 2, 2011 

As newspaper journalists, we see it as part of our duty to democracy to hold public figures accountable.

It seems only fair, therefore, that we turn the same mirror on ourselves.

Here is my hindsight look back at the predictions I made and opinions I rendered in 2010.

Opinions

Joker Phillips: On Jan. 5, I wrote that, after the "not giving the ball to Randall Cobb at the end of the 2009 Tennessee game" controversy, too many people were overlooking the considerable strengths Phillips brought to the head coaching job at Kentucky.

Reality check: At 6-6 with an upset of South Carolina and a win at Louisville, Joker's first year was not a disaster, but it also was less than a rousing success. Clearly the jury is out on whether Phillips can take UK football to the proverbial "next level."

NCAA Tournament expansion: On Feb. 7, I wrote that the alleged plan to expand the NCAA Tournament to 96 teams was an idiotic example of fixing something that wasn't broken. The only reasonable expansion, I wrote, was adding three more teams to create a field of 68 with four "play-in games" instead of one.

Reality check: After much of the national sports media panned a 96-team Big Dance, the NCAA surprised many by going to a 68-team format. Even if the NCAA made a bit of a botch over how they will seed the four opening-round games, this was still a victory for common sense.

UK basketball Senior Day: The 2010 column to which I got the most reader response was on March 5, when I wrote that UK's traditional men's hoops Senior Day festivities should be for actual seniors, with a separate ceremony for players (like Patrick Patterson or one-and-done freshmen) leaving with eligibility remaining.

Reality check: Kentucky included Patterson in the Senior Day celebration on the grounds that the junior was on course to graduate after only three years. It did nothing to honor the final home games of one-and-done freshmen such as John Wall or DeMarcus Cousins.

The majority of those who replied to my column were OK with Patterson's inclusion because 1.) he had meant much to the UK program; 2.) he was said to be on pace to graduate (and, in fact, subsequently did).

I saw their points, but I still think the pre-game Senior Day ceremony should be a special recognition reserved for those increasingly rare players who finish their full eligibility in a Kentucky uniform.

Kentucky to the Big Ten: On May 2, I wrote that UK should at least consider trying to become part of Big Ten expansion, primarily to give the Kentucky football program a better chance to succeed.

Reality check: The Big Ten added Nebraska to go to 12 teams and, as far as is known, neither UK nor the Big Ten ever expressed any interest in each other. I still think Kentucky should have at least explored the option.

Mike Hartline: When Joker Phillips named the much-panned senior to be Kentucky's starting quarterback, I wrote (Aug. 27) that the move might be unpopular, but it was correct.

Reality check: Hartline (3,178 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions) played better than anyone expected. The QB getting suspended for the Kentucky bowl due to a public intoxication charge left a bad aftertaste on a very good season.

Steve Brown: After the Kentucky defense got strafed at Florida, I wrote that defensive coordinator Brown better get fire-retardant pants but that the real problem with the UK "D" was a lack of talent, not the coaching.

Reality check: Brown essentially took the fall for a very spotty Kentucky defensive effort in 2010, with Joker Phillips bringing in Rick Minter as "co-defensive coordinator" but with responsibility for calling the defense.

I still think Kentucky's problem was that, other than linebacker Danny Trevathan, UK had no high-level SEC playmakers anywhere in its defensive front seven.

Predictions

UK football: In the Herald-Leader college football preview, I predicted Kentucky would go 7-5 in Joker Phillips' first season and earn a fifth straight bowl bid in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.

Reality check: Kentucky went 6-6 and earned a fifth straight bowl bid in a lower-tier game, the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala.

UK-U of L football game: I picked Kentucky to beat Louisville 34-26.

Reality check: Kentucky beat Louisville 23-16.

SEC football: In the Herald-Leader college football preview, I picked Florida to win the SEC East, Alabama the West and had the Gators beating the Tide in the SEC championship.

Reality check: South Carolina won the East, Auburn the West and it was the Tigers over the Head Ball Coach for the SEC title.

UK-U of L men's basketball game: I picked Louisville to beat Kentucky 77-74.

Reality check: Kentucky beat Louisville 78-63.

Final Four: In the Herald-Leader NCAA Tournament preview, I picked Kansas, Syracuse, Kentucky and Villanova to play in the men's semifinals with Kentucky beating Kansas in the national title game.

Reality check: Michigan State, Butler, West Virginia and Duke made the Final Four with Duke edging Butler for the NCAA crown.

Comment: If you were so foolish as to wager your life savings on my largely errant 2010 sports predictions, I vow to make a donation to the shelter in which you now are living.

Reach Mark Story at (859) 231-3230 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3230, or mstory@herald-leader.com. Your e-mail could appear on the blog Read Mark Story's E-mail at Kentucky.com.

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