Mark Story

UK Sports Mailbag: The SEC Network and the soccer match that riled the Big Blue Nation

The most exciting part of the Kentucky Wildcats’ 80-53 men’s basketball exhibition victory over Georgetown College Sunday took place on Twitter.

When the women’s soccer match between No. 8 South Carolina and No. 20 Florida that was being telecast on the SEC Network prior to Kentucky-Georgetown went to double overtime, it meant the UK basketball broadcast was delayed well into the first half.

Judging by my Twitter feed, that played about as well among the Big Blue Nation as a fawning Mike Krzyzewski documentary.

That the soccer match ran long only to end in a 1-1 draw did not seem to improve the mood among disgruntled Wildcats basketball fans.

In this edition of the UK Sports Mailbag, we start with a question about why the SEC Network could not at least show the Kentucky game from the start inside the commonwealth.

Question one: Why couldn’t the SEC Network show the entire UK basketball game in Kentucky while staying with the soccer match to its finish in other states? Signed, Bummed over Basketball

Mark’s reply: This is actually a question I wondered about, too. The Fox Sports regional networks have the ability to show different events on their main channel in different parts of their geographic footprint.

For instance, Fox Sports Ohio can show Cincinnati Reds games in the southern parts of its broadcast territory while showing Cleveland Indians games at the same time in the northern parts.

In an email exchange, I asked SEC Network publicist Amanda Brooks why can’t the college sports channel do the same?

“Pro leagues establish ‘local’ footprints for each team, and networks like Fox Sports South and Fox Sports Ohio are regionalized,” Brooks wrote.

“For regional outlets to serve multiple teams/markets, they must maintain the ability to regionalize their signal. SECN is a national network and was not built with the ability to regionalize.”

Question two: Do you think (Eddie) Gran and (Darin) Hinshaw will ever develop a quarterback they signed out of high school? Signed, Always Angry About UK Football

Mark’s reply: Kentucky has had some lousy quarterback luck, both with injuries and recruiting de-commitments, since Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw came to UK as co-offensive coordinators before the 2016 season.

Twice, Kentucky has lost its starting quarterback early in a season due to injury. In 2016, UK lost Drew Barker for the year in the third game due to a back injury. This season, Kentucky lost Terry Wilson during its second game to a torn patellar tendon.

Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson (3) left the field after tearing a patellar tendon in UK’s 38-17 win over Eastern Michigan in the second game of the 2019 season. Alex Slitz

Twice, UK has lost the quarterback commitment it had prioritized in recruiting. In the class of 2017, Florida high school star Mac Jones reneged on his Kentucky pledge to accept an offer from Alabama.

The following recruiting season, Kentucky went all in with Georgia prep star Jarren Williams. After committing to UK, dec-ommitting, recommitting to Kentucky and, finally, de-committing again, Williams chose Miami.

Due to the injuries and the de-committing, it feels like UK has been in scramble mode at QB pretty much the entire time Gran and Hinshaw have been in Lexington.

Jarren Williams UK commit.JPG
Quarterback Jarren Williams, center, committed to Kentucky twice. But he also de-committed from UK twice before ending up at Miami.

Kentucky has been incredibly fortunate that junior-college transfers Stephen Johnson (two bowl games) and Wilson (12-3 as a starter) have worked out so well.

If he returns to good health in time for the 2020 season, Wilson will presumably resume the starting quarterback role for the Cats.

Going forward, UK has a recruiting pledge from Lexington Catholic star Beau Allen for its 2020 recruiting class.

It is worth noting that most of the star-caliber Kentucky quarterbacks of the past three decades — Tim Couch (Leslie County), Jared Loreznen (Fort Thomas Highlands), Andre Woodson (North Hardin) — have been in-state prospects.

Question three (from email): When will Chasity Patterson be eligible to play for Kentucky? Signed, Ready for Chasity

Mark’s reply: I recently wrote about Patterson, the transfer point guard from Texas who will be the most-highly-rated recruit (No. 4 in the class of 2017 by ESPN HoopGurlz) to play for Matthew Mitchell at UK.

Chasity Patterson shooting.JPG
Kentucky guard Chasity Patterson (15) shot during Big Blue Madness at Rupp Arena this month. Alex Slitz

Because she transferred from Texas at mid-year, Patterson will be eligible in Kentucky’s first game after the first UK academic semester of 2019-20 ends.

The UK fall semester ends Dec. 20.

That means Patterson will be eligible to play her first game for Kentucky on Dec. 21 at the University of California.

Mark Story has worked in the Lexington Herald-Leader sports department since Aug. 27, 1990, and has been a Herald-Leader sports columnist since 2001. I have covered every Kentucky-Louisville football game since 1994, every UK-U of L basketball game but three since 1996-97 and every Kentucky Derby since 1994.