The in-state recruiting battles between Kentucky Coach Joker Phillips and Louisville Coach Charlie Strong are starting to heat up.
Strong is coming off quite a week. First, he secured a commitment from five-star QB Teddy Bridgewater. Then he led the Cardinals to an exciting 31-28 win over Southern Miss in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl.
Now, he's using that momentum to try to sway UK commitment Jon Davis, who will take an unofficial visit to Louisville in January.
Davis' father, Reggie, said this week that his son remains committed to Kentucky, and he doesn't anticipate him switching to U of L.
Never miss a local story.
"He's just going to check it out," Reggie Davis said. "I don't think he's going to learn anything new, but it's a family rule that once we start something, we stick it out."
Davis' father said that Phillips has encouraged Davis to take any visits he feels he needs to take.
"Joker wants Jon to be sure, as well," he said.
Bridgewater's commitment to U of L brought about an interesting quandary for Seneca quarterback DaMarcus Smith, who was the first recruit to jump on board and commit to U of L after Strong was hired.
Smith also was interested in UK and Illinois, and Phillips has stayed in touch with Smith even after his commitment to Louisville. But Smith publicly reaffirmed his commitment to U of L the same day as Bridgewater's commitment was announced.
Even if Smith were to waver, it's unclear whether Kentucky could squeeze him in because of a numbers crunch. UK has 20 known commitments for its 2010 recruiting class and is using its final few available scholarships to get some help on the defensive side of the ball.
The Wildcats are scheduled to have three scholarship quarterbacks next fall: Morgan Newton, who'll be a junior; Ryan Mossakowski, who'll be a redshirt sophomore; and Maxwell Smith, who's set to enroll in January.
Kentucky also has a commitment from New Orleans dual-threat QB Theltus Cobbins.
BBVA Compass Bowlis no Music City
Both Kentucky and Pittsburgh are struggling to sell tickets for their Jan. 8 BBVA Compass Bowl matchup in Birmingham.
UK spokesman Tony Neely said last week that the school has sold about 4,000 tickets, while the Birmingham News reported that Pittsburgh has sold between 2,000 and 3,000 tickets.
UK's early ticket sales for the BBVA Compass Bowl are a far cry from last year's Music City Bowl, when UK sold its initial allotment of 12,000 tickets the day after its matchup with Clemson was announced.
Neely said that tickets sold through the school aren't always a good indicator of how many fans will actually show up for the bowl game, noting that many fans get their tickets through secondary markets.
Neely pointed out that most of the 57,280 fans who packed Nashville's LP Field for last year's Music City Bowl were in Wildcats blue despite UK getting only 12,000 tickets.
BBVA Compass Bowl sales director Bo Kerr said he's optimistic that Wildcats fans will jump on board and buy tickets once the Christmas holiday passes, and he said this year's crowd should rival or exceed the 45,254 that watched UConn beat South Carolina 20-7 in last year's game.
Legion Field, the site of the game, seats 71,594.
Each school was required to buy 10,000 tickets for the game at $50 each. While Pitt might lose hundreds of thousands of dollars on unsold tickets, the SEC has an insurance plan that protects its members for unsold tickets.
Georgia running back commits to Cats
Kentucky received a commitment this week from Josh Clemons, a 5-foot-11, 200-pound running back from Fayetteville, Ga.
Clemons is a three-star prospect who had offers from Maryland, Mississippi State and Northwestern.
Cats have strong semester in the classroom
UK defensive tackle Mister Cobble, who missed the regular season because of academics, was cleared last week to play in the BBVA Compass Bowl once semester grades were posted. But Cobble wasn't the only Cat to get good news on the academic front.
"We had 30 guys that made over 3.0 (grade point average) and seven that made 4.0," UK Coach Joker Phillips said. "We are proud of that. We had 37 guys that were 3.0 or better."
The Cats practiced on Dec. 22 before breaking for the Christmas holidays. They will return to Lexington on Dec. 29 and will practice from Dec. 30-Jan. 2 in Lexington before heading to Birmingham on Jan. 3. Kentucky will conduct its first practice in Birmingham on Jan. 4.
'Operation Win'hits Birmingham
As part of his "Operation Win" initiative in the community, UK Coach Joker Phillips and the Wildcats plan to sponsor children from elementary schools around Legion Field, as well as Birmingham-area military personnel.
Building off the Gameday Ready tour that traveled around Kentucky this past summer, the Wildcats hope to give back to the Birmingham community by providing game tickets sponsored by UK fans and supporters.
Fans can participate by making a 100 percent tax-deductible contribution to the Operation Win Birmingham Fund.
Contributions can be made in $50 increments — the cost of one BBVA Compass Bowl ticket.
Ticket blocks will be donated to local Birmingham elementary schools and military personnel.
Fans can make contributions to the Operation Win Birmingham Fund in addition to purchasing their BBVA Compass Bowl tickets.
Fans will receive three K Fund points for every $100 contribution and one K Fund point for a $50 contribution.
The Operation Win drive will continue throughout December, and these tickets will be assigned separately from any priority ticket requests.
To contribute to Operation Win Birmingham, visit UKathletics.com for an application and fax the completed form to the UK Ticket Office at (859) 323-1269. Contributions are also welcome by phone by calling the UK Ticket Office at (800) 928-2287 or the K Fund Office at (859) 257-6300.