John Clay

SEC rules self defense for umpire

Random notes:

■ Did you see where the SEC umpire who put a shoulder into South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia last Saturday was none other than ex-UK Wildcat linebacker Wilbur Hackett?

A Louisville native, Hackett lettered at UK from 1968-70 and has been an SEC official for several years. Late in the first half Saturday night Hackett raised a forearm up to Garcia before the two collided during the South Carolina-LSU game.

The SEC has ruled that Hackett was just protecting himself. Hackett was a terrific player, the first African-American captain in the conference who played on some bad UK teams — 7-24 during his career. No wonder he has some solid hits left in him.

■ Have to admit, though, the Hackett hit looks a lot like that commercial where the ref sacks the quarterback to get the free beer. Life imitating art?

■ The Tampa Bay Rays way should be the Cincinnati Reds way. Boost your scouting system. Invest heavily in young talent. Draft college talent, when possible. Build from the ground up. Hire a manager who can bring along young talent, not one who coddles the over-the-hill.

■ Rich Brooks was a bit out of sorts Monday about the "negativity" that permeates UK football. That's understandable, but hardly realistic. After all, two years of successful Kentucky football seasons won't change the influence of 50 years of largely losing football. That's just the way it is.

■ As bad as the Bengals are this year, I still wouldn't make Marvin Lewis a member of the NFL's rapidly growing Ex-list. What I would do is what the Cincinnati franchise refuses to do — hire a real, live general manager.

■ Speaking of Cincinnati, did you hear about the 89-year-old woman in Blue Ash who was arrested for keeping the neighborhood kids' football because it kept going in her yard? Maybe she just figured it was one of the Bengals' errant throws.

■ No offense to Philadelphia, but I'm rooting for Elvis Costello, er, Joe Maddon and the Rays.

■ Read it and weep: The average age of the Tampa Bay Rays' starting rotation is 24.7.

■ Not that long ago, Penn State supporters were ready to shop Joe Paterno to Florida for retirement. If Penn State wins Saturday night at Ohio State, Joe Pa could well be on his way to Florida — for the BCS title game.

■ No wonder there were off-week rumors that Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville was suffering from some sort of illness. Any coach who would fire a coordinator in mid-season has to have something wrong with him.

■ If you thought in such terms, you'd say that Kentucky's improbable comeback Saturday was payback for Bobby Petrino's needless extra touchdown in 2003. What goes around comes around.

■ The difference between Mesa State (Col.) offensive lineman Trevor Wikre and myself is that Wikre had doctors amputate his pinkie so that he could continue his playing career, while most of my readers would love to amputate my fingers to end my career.

■ If I'm Carson Palmer, he of the inflamed right elbow, I politely tell the Bengals my season is over, thank you.

■ When Billy Gillispie said on UK Basketball Media Day that he believes "rest is overrated" you could almost hear doctors at the UK Medical Center all clearing their throats in unison.

■ Is that the same as Hal Mumme saying he didn't believe in stretching because dogs don't stretch and you never see a dog pull a hamstring?

■ RIP: Gene Hickerson. As a kid growing up in this area when the Cleveland Browns were the only NFL team you could watch on TV, Hickerson was No. 66, a great guard clearing holes for Jim Brown and LeRoy Kelly. He died Monday at 73. There's a special place in football heaven for offensive linemen.