John Clay's notes: Sports world a late arrival on gay rights

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistFebruary 12, 2014 

Random notes

■ Michael Sam, the former Missouri defensive end who Sunday announced he is gay, told his Missouri teammates back in August and asked them to keep it a secret so it would not be a distraction in what turned out to be a terrific football season for the Tigers.

Meanwhile, there is talk that the NFL isn't ready for an openly gay football player.

So the college kids at Missouri are more mature than older, professional athletes?

■ I agree with ESPN's Jason Whitlock, the sports world used to be ahead of society on social issues. The sports world, or part of the sports world, has been behind society on the issue of gay rights.

■ Haven't thoroughly examined UK's preliminary football ticket guidelines for 2015, but will give the school credit for getting out the information well in advance. That's better than springing it on fans the summer before the "new" stadium opens.

■ Reports say the SEC is working with ESPN to find ways to help with basketball attendance problems around the league. The starting times would be a good place to start. They need to be more consistent and fan-friendly. It was reported just this week that the Pac-12 wants to work with the networks to cut back on the number of league night games.

We've said it before, but lack of attendance at college athletic events is a major problem.

■ If the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee met today, I think Kentucky and Florida would be the only two SEC teams to make the field of 68.

■ At a number of SEC schools, basketball attendance is a problem that hiring Bruce Pearl would surely fix.

■ Did you read where former Cat and current Phoenix Suns rookie Archie Goodwin said his trip to the D-league did not hurt his confidence? "I really never lost confidence because I'm a confident player," Goodwin said.

We know, we know.

■ Kentucky is not a basketball school or a football school. It's a softball school, now that the softball team is ranked in the top 10 for the first time in school history.

■ Because of weather, South Carolina postponed its basketball game with Vanderbilt from Wednesday to Thursday. Because of its 1-9 SEC record, South Carolina probably wishes it could postpone the rest of the season.

■ Did you see where Syracuse is selling pieces of the net to commemorate its win over Duke at the Carrier Dome? That's right, these days everything is for sale.

■ The strategy for the "new" Rupp Arena seems to be a variation on the "build it and they will come" theory. More like a "design it and they will finance it" theory.

■ With Cincinnati, Louisville, Memphis and SMU, the American Athletic Conference is more compelling than the Big East.

■ Speaking of SMU, how about that 73-year-old Larry Brown, who has the Mustangs in the top 25 in just his second season in Dallas? Guess those fans who ripped UK target Emmanuel Mudiay for choosing SMU were a little off base.

■ As Florida comes to Lexington on Saturday for the College GameDay showdown, ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg said this week he thinks the Gators are the best team in the country.

■ Going into Tuesday night's game at Auburn, Kentucky ranked seventh in offensive efficiency and 38th in defensive efficiency, according to stats guru Ken Pomeroy's tempo-free stats.

As a frame of reference, over the past five years, 14 of the 20 teams in the Final Four were ranked seventh or worse in offensive efficiency. But only three of those same 20 teams were ranked worse than 38th in defensive efficiency.

■ As part of a tradition, the Duke and North Carolina basketball managers play against each other the night before their teams meet every year. So Tuesday night the managers from both teams squared off at the Dean Dome. Literally.

When an errant elbow struck a jaw after a rebound, the benches emptied. Luckily, no real punches were thrown and a brawl was averted.

So maybe we shouldn't be so hard on poor Marcus Smart.

John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Email: jclay@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog: johnclay.bloginky.com.

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