Sidelines with John Clay

Kansas and the FBI investigation; Alabama break-in and more links

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self talks to the media during the Final Four in San Antonio. Kansas lost to Villanova in the national semfinals on March 31, 2018.
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self talks to the media during the Final Four in San Antonio. Kansas lost to Villanova in the national semfinals on March 31, 2018. Associated Press

Big Blue Links for Friday:

▪ What does FBI probe mean now for Kansas? asks Jesse Newell and Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star. “The FBI investigation into illicit college basketball recruiting landed at Kansas this week with the revelation money exchanged hands to steer two players to the Jayhawks. It was bad news for Kansas. But how bad?”

▪ Sean Woods named head coach at Southern University, reports Jared Peck of the Herald-Leader. ““God is good. My faith has been tested,” Woods said after donning an SU hat as his first news conference. “I’m sure you have read some things about me, and you don’t know exactly what has gone down.”

▪ Dwane Casey is UK’s NBA success story, writes Mark Story of the Herald-Leader. “When the 2018 NBA playoffs tip off this weekend, Toronto will be the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Raptors will face No. 8 seed Washington on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in the first game of a best-of-seven series.”

▪ Ex-UK manager Frank Vogel did not deserve to be fired, says Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel. “elcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the Orlando Magic’s regularly scheduled end-of-the-season news conference where they traditionally announce either a coach’s firing, a GM’s firing or the departure of a beloved franchise player. Sometimes, it’s team CEO Alex Martins presiding over the festivities, but on Thursday it was Jeff Weltman, the Magic’s first-year president of basketball operations, who answered questions as to why the Magic chose to sacrifice coach Frank Vogel at the alter of the everlasting rebuild.”

▪ Kentucky was hurt by a lack of big plays last season, reports Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader. “The numbers seem so minimal, so inconsequential, that it’s easy to overlook them at first. Two seasons ago, Kentucky’s offense produced a so-called “explosive” play every seven plays on average. Last season, that number dropped to an explosive play every nine plays.”

▪ New and old talent will try to shine in Blue-White game, writes Chris Leach of the Kentucky Kernel. “In this year’s spring game, a lot of eyes will be on Gunnar Hoak, as he is one of the candidates for the starting quarterback job next season. The quarterback competition, among with many other storylines, are just some things to pay attention for at the Blue-White game.”

▪ Louisville’s sophomore quarterback moves into spotlight, writes Eric Crawford of WDRB. “ If spring won’t come to your spring game, then you move the game to the spring. University of Louisville coach Bobby Petrino called an audible to move the Cardinals’ annual spring game to Friday night at 7:30, hoping to avoid forecasted thunderstorms on Saturday. That should leave the skies clear for redshirt sophomore quarterback Jawon “Puma” Pass, who steps into the Heisman-shaped shoes of Lamar Jackson to slip behind the wheel of Petrino’s offense.”

▪ How Romeo Langford decision date affects Vanderbilt, says Adam Sparks of the Tennessean. “Langford, a five-star shooting guard from New Albany, Ind., is the No. 1 uncommitted basketball player in the country. He will choose between Indiana, Kansas and Vanderbilt, making the announcement at his New Albany High School, according to his father.”

▪ Basketball official Ed Hightower combined skills with humor, writes Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “As he recalled the funniest moment — well, it’s funny now — that came during his 36-year career as a respected college basketball official, Ed Hightower remained thankful Norm Stewart wasn’t there when No. 5 Oklahoma hosted No. 3 Missouri on Feb. 9, 1989. Stewart, known for his fire, had been hospitalized due to a bleeding ulcer before the game.”

▪ Mississippi State students charged with crime at Alabama, reports Jeff Martin of AP. “Four Mississippi State University students are accused of breaking into the University of Alabama’s athletic facility and stealing memorabilia. The break-in happened during the pre-dawn hours of April 4, six days before Alabama’s national championship football team met with President Donald Trump at the White House, authorities said.”

[Nick Mingione likes it if Kentucky fans are grumbling]

▪ Everyone hates Bama is a nice mantra, says Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News. “Now, let’s not make burglary a laughing matter. It’s a crime and there are consequences. On the other hand, the time frame — right up to the 2:17 a.m. time stamp on security video — suggests contributing factors like “too much beer” and “dumb college prank.” Again, those aren’t excuses, just possible motivation beyond trying to sell a Jim Thorpe Trophy on EBay. It also shouldn’t reflect on Mississippi State athletics.”

▪ Five key Tennessee football players who need to stay healthy, according to John Adams of the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt has said he wants to make Tennessee’s spring game as much like a real game as he can. But UT fans can only hope it’s not like a real game from last season. Game after game, players kept falling by the wayside because of injuries last season. The attrition was so bad in the offensive line, it seemingly was a matter of time before a lineman was injured just running onto the field or taking his stance.”

▪ South Florida stars anchor Florida’s defensive backfield, reports Ethan Bauer of the Miami Herald. “You might know Wilson, and you might know Henderson. You might remember them making themselves known to Florida fans early last season with their pass breakups and picks, their coverage and their consistency. But you may not know Davis or Edwards.”

▪ Kirby Smart critical of five-star prospects, reports Jason Butt of the Macon Telegraph. “Just a couple of days ago, receiver and return specialist Mecole Hardman was talking about how close he was to returning a touchdown last season. He vowed to take one, or more, to the end zone in 2018.”

▪ Memphis offers consultant job to Larry Brown, reports the Commercial-Appeal. “The University of Memphis has offered Larry Brown a full-time position as a consultant on Penny Hardaway’s men’s basketball staff, according to a source with knowledge of the negotiations. School officials are awaiting a final response from Brown.”

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