Mark Story: Black and boo: Fans react to new uniforms

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistSeptember 17, 2013 

  • Tennessee at Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30

    TV: ESPNU

    Records: Kentucky 2-9 (0-7 SEC); Tennessee 4-7 (1-6)

Quick hitters from the Ben Affleck Batman backlash:

21. Go Big Black-n-Blue? Any time the Kentucky football team deviates from blue and white in its uniform selection, a segment of the UK fan base goes bonkers.

20. Burn them. Last Saturday against Louisville, Kentucky wore the combination of blue helmets, black jerseys and blue pants in a game for the first time. Inevitably, the complaint emails rolled into my in-box, including one demanding that Kentucky burn the black uniforms.

19. Thumbs up on the black. When I've asked Kentucky players about wearing black uniforms, they've always expressed enthusiasm. I'm all for things that make college sports more fun for the people that play the games.

18. Recruiting advantage? From watching a replay of UK-U of L, the black and blue combination looked great on TV. If you don't think wearing cool uniforms matters to teen-aged recruits, why do you think Oregon wears all the radical combinations it does?

17. Maxwell Smith. Louisville's Gerod Holliman almost intercepted the first pass of last Saturday's game from the Kentucky starting quarterback on a short out pattern. It felt like Smith's throw took a week to get to its destination.

16. Lost something off his fastball? The play caused me to wonder, not for the first time this season, whether the UK QB — who has fought repeated shoulder problems — has the same zip on his passes that he had in 2012's first three games when he averaged 322 yards.

15. Smith says he's fine. "My velocity is the same, I believe," Smith said. "I'm throwing the deep ball probably better than I ever have just because I worked on that all summer. My velocity, I feel, is the same."

14. Neal Brown. The new UK offensive coordinator says it's hard for him to compare Smith's velocity to last season because it is difficult to judge off video how much juice the QB had on throws in 2012.

13. Brown's judgment. "(Smith) loses the nose (of the football) a little bit (on throws) and his ball flutters some," Brown said. "That may look like weak arm strength, but I haven't noticed any lack of arm strength. ... He throws the ball pretty well in practice."

12. A third quarterback? Given that Smith left the U of L game with more shoulder problems and how inconsistent a passer Jalen Whitlow has been, I'll be surprised if one of the redshirt quarterbacks, either Patrick Towles or Reese Phillips, does not end up playing this year.

11. UK defensive improvement. Through three games, Kentucky's defense has allowed 69 points; last year, the UK 'D' allowed 78 over the same time frame.

10. Home not so sweet. With 20 years of the modern UK-U of L football rivalry now in the books, home teams are 8-12 and favorites are 12-8 straight up.

9. Kentucky football coaches against Louisville. Bill Curry 1-2; Hal Mumme 2-2; Guy Morriss 1-1; Rich Brooks 3-4; Joker Phillips 1-2; Mark Stoops 0-1.

8. Louisville football coaches against Kentucky. Howard Schnellenberger 0-1; Ron Cooper 2-1; John L. Smith 3-2; Bobby Petrino 4-0; Steve Kragthorpe 0-3; Charlie Strong 3-1.

7. Louisville's lousy remaining schedule I. Of the nine foes left for the Cardinals, five — Florida International (0-3), Temple (0-3), South Florida (0-3), Connecticut (0-2) and Memphis (0-2) — are currently winless.

6. Louisville's lousy remaining schedule II. Of the nine foes left for the Cardinals, four — Florida International, Temple, South Florida and Connecticut — have lost to FCS teams.

5. UK salutes Rick Pitino. It was appropriate that Kentucky took out an ad in the Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony program to honor the ex-UK head coach for his enshrinement.

4. Rick Pitino salutes UK. If you watched the Louisville coach's induction speech, he was exceedingly gracious about his eight-year stint as Kentucky head man — to the extent that it seemed to rankle some U of L fans.

3. A 6-foot-11 center. I smiled when I saw that Kentucky Wesleyan's new head coach, Happy Osborne, has added big man Alex Brown to the KWC roster. Brown averaged 4.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and almost two blocked shots for San Jose State last season.

2. Osborne's take. "He can defend, run and really block shots," the Wesleyan coach said Friday of Brown. "He doesn't have much of a back-to-the-basket game yet."

1. Happy still has it. Going back to his mega-successful stint at Georgetown College, no one works the college basketball "waiver wire" more effectively than Osborne. In a time of unrelenting change, it's somehow comforting that some things stay the same.

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

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