For the first time since April 26, 2009, this week's mailbag is an edition of Ask Mark Anything — so we are going to cover a wide range of topics:
Mark's note: Twice in recent months, I have pointed out on Twitter that the University of Kentucky's 2018 national championship in rifle brought to 11 the number of team NCAA titles claimed by UK in its history.
Of course, the Wildcats' men's basketball team has won the NCAA Tournament eight times — 1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996, 1998 and 2012.
UK rifle now has two NCAA titles — 2011 and this year.
The Wildcats' women's cross country team claimed the NCAA crown in 1988.
Every time this topic comes up, I get the following question:
Mark's reply: The NCAA does not sanction a national championship in cheerleading.
There are multiple cheerleading "national titles" awarded annually by others. The University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville and Morehead State all won cheerleading national titles this school year.
UK won the coed championship of the Universal Cheerleaders Association, D1A level.
Morehead State won the coed championship of the UCA D1.
Louisville, meanwhile, claimed the National Cheerleading Association national title in DIA.
Whether the NCAA should sanction a unified cheerleading national championship is an interesting question.
There was a time when many adherents of women's athletics were ardently against cheerleading being classified a sport. Their fear was that school administrators would field huge cheerleading and dance squads, count those numbers against their Title IX participation requirements and then not add or invest in other women's sports.
Yet even in our current era with myriad women's sports opportunities, competitive cheer and dance have shown enduring popularity with female students from grade school through college.
At some point, should you not factor that popularity into the question of whether or not a true college cheerleading national championship should be sanctioned?
Question two: Do you think the fact Kentucky did not have one player chosen in the 2018 NFL Draft will be used against (UK) in football recruiting?
Signed, Blue over the Blue
Mark's reply: Yes.
It was not a great look for Wildcats football when the ESPN draft broadcast pointed out that Kentucky was the only school in the SEC that had not had a player drafted.
UK has now gone two straight NFL drafts without having a player picked. Mark Stoops has completed five years as UK head coach and the only player he recruited to Kentucky who has so far been drafted was junior-college transfer Za'Darius Smith in 2015.
In fairness, Stoops has only had one full recruiting class, 2013, work its way through the full five-year cycle (with redshirt years) at Kentucky.
Nevertheless, given the extent to which Kentucky has boasted about its recruiting successes in the Stoops era, UK needs to start putting guys in the pros.
The good news is you would think at least three UK players — defensive end Josh Allen, safety Mike Edwards and running back Benny Snell (as a junior-eligible player) — are near-locks to be picked in the 2019 draft if they stay healthy.
Question three: I have often pondered your interest in the Dodgers. How did a Kentuckian become a Los Angeles fan?
Signed, Curious in Calhoun, Ky.
Mark's reply: Where I grew up, our local high school (North Hardin) wore blue-and-white. As a little boy, that led to my being partial to teams in blue.
When I got a little older, I read Roger Kahn's book, "The Boys of Summer," about the 1950s-era Brooklyn Dodgers, and the friendship between Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese. In the book, it made a big impression on me when some players from the South tried to organize to oppose Robinson's debut as the first black player in major-league baseball but Reese, a Kentuckian, would not go along.
Over the years, a surprising number of players from Kentucky have played for the Dodgers.
That line runs from Reese (born in Ekron in Meade County) through Lexington products Lou Johnson, John Shelby and AJ Ellis, plus Southgate's Jim Bunning (pitched nine games for the Dodgers in 1969), Elizabethtown's Mark Bradley and Franklin-Simpson graduate Joe Blanton.
Just last week, Henry Clay product Walker Buehler, the top-ranked pitching prospect in the L.A. system, made his first two career starts for the Dodgers.
Catcher Will Smith (Kentucky Country Day, U of L) is a top 10 prospect in the L.A. farm system. Former UK players Zach Pop, Zach Reks, Connor Heady and Logan Salow are also all in the Dodgers organization.
Given all those ties, I can't figure out why everyone in Kentucky isn't a Dodgers fan.
Mark Story: 859-231-3230; Twitter: @markcstory