John Clay

John Clay’s notes: Shannon Dawson, we hardly knew ya

Kentucky offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson watched the celebration after the Wildcats scored touchdown on the first play from scrimmage against Louisiana-Lafayette, the season-opening game. Dawson was fired after one season.
Kentucky offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson watched the celebration after the Wildcats scored touchdown on the first play from scrimmage against Louisiana-Lafayette, the season-opening game. Dawson was fired after one season. Lexington Herald-Leader

Random notes:

▪ Hey, even Ron Hudson, Kentucky’s unpopular offensive coordinator for the first two years of the Rich Brooks era, got a longer shelf life than Shannon Dawson, the now-former Wildcats play-caller, who was kicked to the curb after one season.

As a consolation to Dawson, it should be noted that the last Kentucky OC to last no more than one campaign in the difficult job was Tony Franklin under Hal Mumme in 2000. Alhough he owned the title, Franklin didn’t call the plays. Mumme was always the man in charge of his Air Raid baby. And by mid-season, the two coaches had stopped speaking to each other, which was par for a dysfunctional staff. At season’s end, Mumme fired Franklin. Shortly thereafter, during an NCAA investigation that led to probation, UK fired Mumme.

Franklin has done OK for himself since. He’s now coordinator of a California offense that ranked ninth nationally in yards per game this season.

▪ A new hire means Mark Stoops can cut the Air Raid cord once and for all. Probably the sooner, the better.

▪ Speaking of offense, Western Kentucky put up an eye-popping 612 total yards on South Florida’s defense Monday in its 45-35 Miami Beach Bowl win. USF came into the contest ranked 35th nationally in total defense. It now ranks 335th — or something like that.

▪ Why did Patrick Towles choose Boston College as his graduate transfer destination? It might be because the Eagles ranked 126th out of 128 teams in FBS total offense this season. As a team, BC completed just 44.6 percent of its passes. Opportunity awaits.

▪ You have to wonder whether Tyler Ulis’ elbow is more of a problem than the sophomore point guard will admit. On Saturday, Ulis wore a protective sleeve on the elbow he hyperextended against South Florida on Nov. 27. He also missed six of his seven three-point shots. In the four games in which he has played since the trip to Miami, Ulis is 6 for 25 from three-point range. That’s 24 percent.

▪ Xavier basketball isn’t just winning; the Muskies are mowing people down. Now No. 6 in the AP poll, the men of Chris Mack have beaten Michigan by 16, Alabama by 19, Dayton by 29, Western Kentucky by 31, Cincinnati by 10 and Auburn by 24. Come NCAA tourney time, no team’s going to want to see X in the same bracket.

▪ I wouldn’t blame new Eastern Kentucky basketball coach Dan McHale if he has forgotten what Richmond looks like. The Colonels lost 89-54 at West Virginia on Monday night. It was their eighth true road game this season, and OVC play hasn’t started. By comparison, Kentucky plays 10 true road games all season.

▪ i Thought Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron did just fine in his first NFL start Sunday in place of injured Andy Dalton. True, the Cincinnati defense helped the cause by turning over the inept San Francisco offense time and again, but McCarron didn’t make any mistakes. He also made some nice throws.

▪ Congrats to former UK football assistant Ron Caragher, who led San Jose State to a win in the Cure Bowl over Georgia State on Saturday. Caragher was the running backs coach under Rich Brooks.

▪ The most interesting aspect, at least to me, of former Reds pitcher Mike Leake signing as a free agent with the St. Louis Cardinals is that he apparently will wear No. 8. It’s the sum of the two numbers in his number (44) with the Reds and Giants.

▪ The Ole Miss men’s basketball team played its final game in the Tad Pad, formally known as Tad Smith Coliseum, on Tuesday. The Rebels’ next home game is Jan. 7 against Alabama in the new Pavilion at Ole Miss arena.

In UK lore, the Tad Pad will be remembered not just for its poor lighting but as the site at which then-Cats coach Billy Gillispie famously chastised ESPN’s Jeannine Edwards for asking “a bad question.” Kentucky was 5-0 in the SEC at the time. The Cats finished 8-8, and Gillispie was out of a job. Enter John Calipari. All’s well that ends well.

By the way, in Oxford, they have taken to calling the old gym “The Sad Pad.”

Kentucky football’s offensive coordinators since 1990

  • 1990 Tommy Bowden
  • 1991-92 Rick Rhoades
  • 1993-94 Daryl Dickey
  • 1995-96 Eliot Uzelac
  • 1997-98 Mike Leach
  • 1999 Hal Mumme (head coach)
  • 2000 Tony Franklin
  • 2001-02 Brent Pease
  • 2003-04 Ron Hudson
  • 2005-09 Joker Phillips
  • 2010-12 Randy Sanders
  • 2013-14 Neal Brown
  • 2015 Shannon Dawson
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