Liberty Bowl foes have a prickly past

John Clay
John Clay

Random notes:

■ Though they have played just once, in 1993, Kentucky and East Carolina have a football history prior to Friday's Liberty Bowl, and at least part of it is contentious.

In 1998, Kentucky was scheduled to visit East Carolina on the second week of the season, the return date from the '93 game that the Cats won 6-3 in Lexington.

It just so happened that the '98 game was to be the debut of East Carolina's newly expanded Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, its seating capacity increased to 40,000. ECU officials eagerly awaited the arrival of UK's "Air Raid" offense, led by star quarterback Tim Couch, to mark the Pirates' first game in their new digs.

Ah, but because Louisville had opened Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, meaning that the Cats were contractually obligated to begin the '98 season in Louisville, Kentucky didn't relish opening the year with two straight road games, much less playing six road games overall.

So Athletics Director C.M. Newton exercised the contractual clause that allowed UK to buy its way out of the agreement, leaving the poor Pirates high and dry.

ECU didn't take too highly to the cancelation. It went to the media crying foul, questioning Newton's integrity, and was forced to schedule Division I-AA foe Tennessee-Chattanooga for its home opener.

Kentucky, meanwhile, quickly replaced the road game at ECU with a home game against EKU, or Eastern Kentucky University, which turned out to be a 52-7 UK win in what turned out to be a 7-5 Outback Bowl season.

Wonder if the officials at East Carolina have long memories?

■ Think the new three-point line, extended by a foot, might be having some effect? Three of UK's 10 worst three-point shooting games over the past four seasons have come this season.

Against Miami, the Cats made two of 23 threes for 8.7 percent, the second-worst showing in the past four years. The 2-for-18 effort against Florida Atlantic was the sixth-worst. And the 3-for-16 against Virginia Military Institute was the ninth-worst. (The worst was 2-for-27 against Indiana in 2005-06.)

■ Before you start piling too much significance on the Kentucky-Louisville game, remember that the Cats will be playing a ranked team on the ranked team's home floor.

■ Prediction: Landon Slone will lead the Southeastern Conference in floor burns.

■ All you needed to know about Wade Phillips' tenure in Dallas came when Tony Romo waved the punt team back to the bench Sunday as Phillips stood on the sideline asking no one in particular, "What's he doing?"

■ Don't look now, but the Yankees just bought (fill in the blank).

■ Indiana might not win another basketball game all season.

■ If it's bowl season, it's also the ineligible season: e_SDHpAlabama's Andre Smith, South Carolina's Emanuel Cook, a bunch at Miami, and now UK running back Moncell Allen.

■ Did you see where Cincinnati Coach Brian Kelly is planning to move his team out of its Miami hotel for the Orange Bowl because Sean "Diddy" Combs was scheduled to have a New Year's Eve party there? That's called preventive maintenance.

■ The Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi on Auburn forcing out Tommy e_SDHpTuberville and hiring Gene Chizik: "Isn't that a little like divorcing Jessica Alba to marry Janet Reno?"

■ To my surprise, Bob Knight is quite good as a TV basketball analyst. Of course, now that The General is part of the media, you can't trust a word he says.

■ Same goes for Brett Favre now that he's in thinking-about-retirement mode.

■ Billy Gillispie on Darius Miller's current struggles: "He just defers to people a little bit too much. I think that's because of his niceness. He's the best person you've ever been around — yes, sir; no, sir; no matter what, great teammate. But we need to get him going."

■ Ruling Randall Cobb out of the Liberty Bowl might not be a good thing, but it's a smart thing.