John Clay

John Clay’s notes: Richard Pitino having major problems at Minnesota

Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino instructs his team against Nebraska during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lincoln, Neb., Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016.
Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino instructs his team against Nebraska during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lincoln, Neb., Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. Journal-Star/Associated Press

Random notes:

▪  If you think Rick Pitino has had a rough year off the court, what about his son Richard Pitino on the court? The Minnesota coach saw his team drop to 6-11 overall and 0-5 in the Big Ten with an 84-59 loss at Nebraska on Tuesday night. That came three days after the Golden Gophers were pounded 77-52 at home by Northwestern on Saturday.

Minnesota fired Tubby Smith for this?

▪  Wrote it before, I’ll write it again. I would put what Nick Saban has done — four titles in seven years, five overall — ahead of what Bear Bryant accomplished. It’s harder to do now what with money, parity and numerous other factors.

▪  The College Football Playoff committee is being stubborn for no reason in refusing to change future New Year’s Eve dates after this year’s ratings disaster. Why would you want to hold two of the season’s most important games on a night when viewers are not normally in front of their televisions?

▪  Deshaun Watson is returning as the Clemson quarterback in 2016. Thus, Clemson has to be my preseason No. 1 for 2016.

▪  Losing to the Steelers in the AFC wild card game — Cincinnati’s fifth straight playoff defeat — was bad enough, especially given the circumstances. Losing offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, hired Wednesday as head coach by the Cleveland Browns, might be worse.

▪  As for the Bengals, if only Vontaze Burfict had kept running all the way out of Paul Brown Stadium when he picked off that Steelers pass with less than two minutes left and Cincinnati up 16-15. For some reason, Burfict kept running all the way off the field, into the tunnel and toward the Bengals’ locker room. Unfortunately, Burfict returned. Pittsburgh got the ball back. Burfict committed the first of two personal foul penalties that allowed the Steelers to kick the game-winning field goal.

▪  Mississippi State shot 52.9 percent against Kentucky on Tuesday night. That’s the highest field goal percentage by a UK opponent since Wichita State shot 55.1 percent against the Cats in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Kentucky won that game, too.

▪  This Kentucky basketball team is averaging 5.38 blocked shots per game. That’s the lowest number in the Calipari era. Last year’s team averaged 6.87 blocks per game.

▪  By the way, when I wrote for Tuesday’s paper that last year’s UK basketball season was boring, my tongue was firmly planted in cheek. I thought it might be boring, but it was not.

▪  Let’s see, Frank Haith got in trouble as the basketball head coach at Miami before leaving for Missouri. Now Haith got Missouri in trouble — the school announced it is vacating its 2013-14 season after major violations were found — before leaving for Tulsa. Starting to sense a pattern here.

▪  Is it me, or are these prospect recruiting rankings starting to run together?

▪  The new Los Angeles Rams’ football stadium and entertainment complex in Inglewood will be on the same site as the old Hollywood Park Thoroughbred track.

▪  After Kentucky hired offensive coordinator Eddie Gran, Cincinnati Coach Tommy Tuberville hired former Miami Dolphins OC Zac Taylor to run the Bearcats’ offense.

▪  Don’t look now, but Perfect Game Baseball has ranked Louisville No. 2 in the nation in its preseason college Top 25.

▪  Maybe I’m being ridiculously optimistic, but I think the Cincinnati Reds are going to be better than most think next season.

▪  Bob Baffert turned 63 on Wednesday. Happy birthday, Bob. No doubt his 63rd year will be one he always remembers.

▪  Nice touch on Tuesday night by Rupp Arena, which paid homage to the late singer David Bowie by playing Bowie’s Let’s Dance at one of the timeouts during the UK-Mississippi State game.