Mark Story: Scripting a football season Kentucky fans won't soon forget

Basketball ... Twitter ... recruiting ... Facebook ... basketball ... Dominican team ... basketball ... 'legends' ... basketball ... yogurt ... Joe B. ... yada, yada, yada ...* pssst ... by the way, it's almost football season

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistAugust 5, 2011 

In the week when University of Kentucky football players reported for fall camp, John Calipari and basketball have dominated the headlines all across the state.

Just for fun, this is what it might be like if the entire football season played out with Cal on the same publicity arc.

Sept. 1 — UK vs. WKU (Nashville): The season opener of Joker Phillips' second season is overshadowed by the 24,000 who fill Rupp Arena for "Enes Kanter Appreciation Night."

Sept. 10 — Central Michigan at UK: Kentucky football's home opener is overshadowed by the announcement that Calipari, inspired by The Longhorn Network at the University of Texas, is launching his own 24-hour cable TV channel.

Among the shows in development: Real World: Coal Lodge; Big Blue Bachelor; and Keeping Up With The Caliparis.

Sept. 17 — Louisville at UK: The 18th modern renewal of the Governor's Cup football rivalry is obscured by a Cal charity fund raiser taking place at the same time in a sold-out KFC Yum Center, which has Derrick Rose and LeBron James facing off in a one-on-one showdown.

The event is broadcast live, on a pay-per-view basis, in every country in the world.

Sept. 24 — Florida at UK: Kentucky's bid to end its 24-game football losing streak to Florida has to be moved to Gainesville when it is learned that Zig Ziglar has a contract with Calipari to use Commonwealth Stadium for a "Get Networked" business seminar with Cal and William Wesley, aka World Wide Wes, as the featured speakers.

Oct. 1 — UK at LSU: The first football meeting between Wildcats and Tigers since Kentucky upset No. 1-ranked LSU in 2007 gets a bit lost after Justin Timberlake, hip-hop star Drake and ESPN/Dancing with the Stars pinup Erin Andrews all hit Lexington for The Celebrity Roast of John Calipari.

Oct. 8 — UK at South Carolina: Steve Spurrier has the most talented roster of his Carolina career and a revenge motif toward Kentucky after 2010 — but no one in Lexington is too concerned about the Head Ball Coach's wrath after Cal sells out Rupp Arena to see a "skills competition" that pits John Wall against Rajon Rondo.

Oct. 22 — Jacksonville State at UK: Football homecoming doesn't create nearly the stir that the first edition of Big Blue Bachelor does. Some 600 female citizens of the Kingdom of the Blue show up, many in jean shorts, to audition for a shot to catch the eye of the show's inaugural contestant, Josh Harrellson.

Oct. 29 — Mississippi State at UK: The game that could determine Kentucky football's bowl fate gets a bit drowned out when Cal announces that he plans to conduct a contest, via Twitter, to choose one UK student to walk-on to the Kentucky basketball team (look for hashtag #youcanbeawildcat).

Nov. 5 — Mississippi at UK: A football-obscuring media stir occurs when Cal tweets on the morning of the Ole Miss game that Joe B. Hall will coach Kentucky's men's basketball team in its season opener against Marist on Nov. 11.

Nov. 12 — UK at Vanderbilt: There's not nearly as much buzz in Nashville around the football matchup of the traditional SEC East bottom dwellers as there is in Lexington about the three-on-three showdown of locked-out NBA players that Cal has organized: It features former Kentucky stars John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe playing against ex-Memphis standouts Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, and Chris Douglas-Roberts.

Nov. 19 — UK at Georgia: Kentucky is actually playing a real basketball game, against Penn State, on the same day the football Cats face the Dawgs. No embellishment needed here.

Nov. 26 — Tennessee at UK: Kentucky football's season finale is moved to Knoxville after UK decides to put a temporary roof on Commonwealth Stadium and play a basketball doubleheader there instead. Following Kentucky's real game against Portland, Calipari puts together a tantalizing second contest with rosters heavy on locked-out pros: The Kentucky Legends vs. the Duke Legends.

Wouldn't you know it, UK finally beats UT in football after 26 long, agonizing years of defeat — but no one notices because John Wall dunks over Christian Laettner just ahead of the final buzzer to give the UK Legends a 104-103 win over the Duke Legends before a record 74,000 in Commonwealth.

Reach Mark Story at (859) 231-3230 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3230, or mstory@herald-leader.com.

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