Sidelines with John Clay

Nick Haynes’ parting with Kentucky unfortunate end to his college career

For Nick Haynes, it’s a shame it ended this way.

The senior offensive lineman, a team captain, was one of the more interesting and well-spoken players to ever pull on a Kentucky football uniform. A stand-up guy who took pride in his performance, Haynes may have been UK’s best all-around lineman as a junior during the team’s TaxSlayer Bowl run.

All of that makes what happened over the past three weeks, culminating with Saturday’s announcement that Haynes and the UK football program had agreed to a “mutual separation” before the team’s Music City Bowl, that much more disappointing.

Obviously frustrated over his season-long battle with diabetes, that basically caused him to miss the last half of the season, Haynes sent a tweet the night before the Louisville game ripping some members of the coaching staff.

“It’s all about that check,” read Haynes’ surprise tweet. “That’s the one big thing I discovered here at UK. They’ll use you up for all your worth and then throw you to the side.”

The tweet, which was quickly deleted, appeared to come out of the blue, unless you were there for Haynes’ final meeting with the media the week of the Louisville game, which was both the Cats’ regular season and home finale.

Though Haynes said he was happy with his career and his contribution to the program, he said he looked forward to being able to go out on his own and finding medical experts who could better help him manage his diabetes so that he could take a shot at the NFL.

Haynes didn’t openly criticize UK or the medical staff, but reading between the lines you could tell he wasn’t totally happy with the way his condition had been handled.

After the 44-17 loss to Louisville, UK Coach Mark Stoops said he had talked to Haynes abut the tweet, saying, “He was rubbed the wrong way after curfew by one of our younger coaches, and we’ll just leave it at that.”

Saturday, Stoops confirmed the Florida native was no longer practicing with the team. In many ways, the move makes sense. Haynes was unlikely to play in the bowl game. Now he can move on with his goal of finding the help he needs. Still, this isn’t an ideal end for either party.

Here’s what I’ll remember from Haynes’ time at UK: Kentucky’s 28-27 loss to Florida back in September.

I’m not talking about the holding call on Haynes that basically killed UK’s final drive as the Cats were moving into position for Austin MacGinnis to have a shot at kicking the winning field goal.

What I will remember is Haynes showing up for the post-game press conference and answering every question. He didn’t believe the call was correct, but he didn’t blast the official who made the call either. He handled the situation with honesty, maturity and class.

To the links:

▪ Kentucky football received a commitment from junior-college quarterback Terry Wilson over the weekend, reports Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader. Wilson is expected to immediately compete for the starting position next season. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out, especially with regard to senior-to-be Drew Barker.

▪ I wrote about John Calipari saying he was disappointed his players haven’t received more respect. UK improved to 8-1 with a 93-76 win over Monmouth in New York on Saturday. Still, there’s a national perception that this class of freshmen isn’t quite as talented as previous Calipari collections. UK’s relatively easy early schedule hasn’t done anything to change that perception.

▪ I watched Arizona State upset Kansas 95-85 on Sunday. Bobby Hurley’s Sun Devils are a lot of fun to watch. Just don’t tell that to Kansas Coach Bill Self, who watched his team lose its second straight game. Gary Bedore of the Kansas City Star reports that Self is particularly upset with the Jayhawks’ defense. Self said this is the softest team he’s had at KU.

▪ So much for sun and fun in Florida for the UK women’s basketball team, which dropped back-to-back games in the Sunshine State. After losing to Florida Gulf Coast on Friday, Matthew Mitchell’s club lost 65-54 at Miami on Sunday. Now 8-3, Kentucky was blitzed 42-24 in the second half.

▪ The Bengals have obviously thrown in the towel, as evidenced by Cincinnati’s 33-7 loss to visiting Chicago on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. Paul Daugherty of the Enquirer writes that it was an ugly reminder of losses gone by.

Monday college basketball on TV

  • 7:00 - Bryant at Louisville (ESPNU)
  • 7:00 - Chicago State at Northwestern (Fox Sports 1)
  • 8:00 - Drake at Minnesota (Big 10)
  • 9:00 - Alabama A&M at DePaul (Fox Sports 1)
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