Mark Story: What about Tony Franklin to run UK offense?

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistDecember 3, 2012 

University of Kentucky wide receiver Neal Brown during a loss to Mississippi State in 2000.

HERALD-LEADER FILE PHOTO

Quick hitters from the royal baby registry:

21. Optimism about Mark Stoops: The new Kentucky head football coach grew up and coached high school football in Ohio, served as a college assistant in Texas (albeit for only one year at Houston) and did two different stints as an assistant in Florida (at Miami and Florida State). If Stoops can recruit successfully from those three talent-rich states, it could alter the historic arc of UK football.

20. Worrisome about Mark Stoops: In seven games against ranked teams during Stoops' three seasons as Florida State defensive coordinator, the Seminoles gave up 418 yards and 34.3 points a contest. You play a lot of ranked teams in the Southeastern Conference.

19. Stoops' biggest hire: When you hire a head coach with a defensive background, his most important decision is what kind of offense to run and who to hire to run it.

18. Bob Stoops picked Mike Leach. Remember, when Oklahoma hired then-Florida defensive coordinator Bob Stoops as its head coach in 1999, he chose then-Kentucky offensive coordinator Mike Leach to bring an Air Raid to Norman.

17. Mark Stoops and Neal Brown? It would be a hire of similar magnitude for Bob Stoops' younger brother if Mark can lure to UK Brown, the ex-Cats wide receiver and current Texas Tech offensive coordinator whose Red Raiders offense finished the season 12th in the nation in total offense (501.42 yards) and 16th in scoring (37.75 points).

16. If UK can't get Neal Brown: There's another offensive coordinator with Kentucky ties whose 2012 attack led the country in points (51.5). After the tell-all book that followed his stint as a Wildcats assistant during the Hal Mumme era, would Kentucky let bygones be bygones and hire Louisiana Tech's Tony Franklin?

15. Ultimate UK fan evaluates Mark Stoops: Lexington's Jim Brown, now 93-years old, saw 412-straight UK home games from 1945 through 2009. His first-hand memory of Kentucky coaches goes back to Harry Gamage — who coached the Cats from 1927-33.

14. Jim Brown endorses Stoops: "I feel pretty good with his pedigree and his experience," Brown said last week.

13. Loyalty personified. Brown reported he made all seven UK home games in 2012. "Even the Vanderbilt game," he said of that sparsely-attended affair.

12. Ryan Timmons. If Mark Stoops can land for Kentucky the dynamic Franklin County wide receiver, the coach's current positive buzz may reach tidal-wave proportions.

11. 15,453. That was the attendance in the KFC Yum Center Sunday night for what became No. 9 Kentucky's late rally past No.-7 Louisville, 48-47, in our state's marquee women's college basketball showcase.

10. A big crowd, but ... Given that 22,152 attended the Cats-Cards women's hoops matchup the last time the two played in The Ville, I was a little disappointed in the attendance this year for the first ever U of L-UK women's matchup in which both teams were ranked in the Top 10.

9. Don't forget Azia. UK freshman point guard Janee Thompson supplied the late-game offensive heroics in the victory over Louisville, but don't overlook the play that 6-foot-3 Wildcats' sophomore Azia Bishop made in blocking the potential game-winning layup by U of L's Bria Smith. "Just a spectacular play," UK head coach Matthew Mitchell said.

8. UK + U of L = U-G-L-Y basketball: Last season in Rupp Arena, the UK men shot 29.8 percent yet still beat the U of L men (who hit 32.3 percent). Sunday night in the Yum Center, the UK women shot 32.7 percent yet still beat the U of L women (who hit 38 percent).

7. Jeff Walz. That was a humdinger of a post-game news conference the U of L women's coach supplied Sunday night.

6. John Crigler. One of the starters on Kentucky's 1958 NCAA Championship team, Crigler died Saturday at age 76. A 6-foot-3 forward, Crigler averaged 13.6 points as a senior for The Fiddlin' Five, the final of Adolph Rupp's four NCAA champs.

5. Vernon Hatton. The star guard on the '58 champions said Crigler "was the most underrated player. At his size he'd go in and battle with the big guys and it seemed like he was good for 10 rebounds every game," Hatton said Monday.

4. Kept the Fiddlin' Five in touch. In recent years, Hatton said Crigler would regularly call his former UK teammates. "He'd just check on us, 'How's your health, how's your family,'" Hatton said. "He was the guy that kept us together."

3. A streak ends. When Baylor snapped Kentucky's 55-game men's basketball home-court winning streak (64-55) Saturday in Rupp Arena, it made me think of UK hoops history and the night (Jan. 8, 1955) Georgia Tech ended an astounding 129-game Wildcats home win streak.

2. Lake Kelly. The late college and high school basketball coach was a reserve guard on that '55 Tech team that beat UK 59-58 in Memorial Coliseum, Adolph Rupp's first home loss in 12 years. "In the whole gym, nobody moved," Kelly recalled in a 2007 interview. "Those people just sat there. They were totally shocked."

1. Wrath of the hoops gods? Was it basketball karma that Baylor — the replacement foe after UK ended its long-standing hoops border rivalry with Indiana — that snapped the Cats' most recent home win streak?

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230. Email: mstory@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @markcstory. Blog: markstory.bloginky.com

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