Sidelines with John Clay

Yet another controversy for Louisville athletics. Plus more notes.

Former University of Louisville Athletics Director Tom Jurich presided over the first NCAA men’s basketball national champion ever ordered to vacate its championship.
Former University of Louisville Athletics Director Tom Jurich presided over the first NCAA men’s basketball national champion ever ordered to vacate its championship. Associated Press

Thursday notes:

This isn’t the first time we’ve asked this question: What in the world is going on at the University of Louisville?

The latest controversy, as reported by the Courier-Journal’s Tim Sullivan, concerns Mark Jurich, son of ousted U of L AD Tom Jurich, sending a scathing e-mail to new AD Vince Tyra complaining about his father’s tickets for Cardinals’ football and basketball games.

“If you cannot bear the sight, or rather the optics of Tom Jurich in the Yum! Center or Cardinal Stadium, you are weaker than I thought,” Mark Jurich wrote to Tyra in a message sent on Aug. 22. “If you feel the need to hide my dad in a corner to make yourself feel important or simply comfortable, then so be it — he will do that for you.”

Eric Crawford of WDRB tweeted the location of Jurich’s seats at the Yum Center, which did not look all that bad.

This, of course, follows the Papa John’s controversy when the school was forced to change the name of its football stadium after Papa John’s founder John Schnatter over his use of a racial slur in a conference call with a public relations firm.

(Schnatter is back in the news again for ripping corporate executives and detailing “frat club” behavior.)

That followed the latest in a long line of Louisville basketball scandals that ended up with both Tom Jurich and Rick Pitino receiving pink slips from the university. Lawsuits followed. Books are forthcoming, starting with Pitino’s tome to be officially released on Sept. 4. Jay Bilas and Dick Vitale each received advance copies and each lauded author Rick.

We won’t even get into Bobby Petrino, the U of L Foundation problems and the ouster of former school president James Ramsey.

To the links:

ESPNU’s Kevin Brown was nice enough to come on my podcast and talk about how, as the play-by-play guy, he’s preparing for Saturday’s Kentucky-Central Michigan game at Kroger Field. Brown, who will team with Andre Ware, gave his impression of the two teams and put in an enthusiastic plug for Tony’s of Lexington.

Speaking of podcasts, Brad Taylor of Bottom Line: Lexington somehow coaxed me into sitting down with him for some back-and-forth on UK football, UK basketball, the Reds, gambling and how he can’t see more than four wins for Mark Stoops and Co.

I see a few more than four wins, as I finally quit procrastinating and picked the UK football season. Can the Cats crack the eight-win barrier? Will they finally beat Florida? Will they finally post a winning record in the SEC? Just how hazy is my crystal ball?

Bovada bettors also see the football Cats bettering expectations. Or at least the over/under on Kentucky football victories, set at a meager 5.5.

Mark Story opens up his mailbag and tackles the question of whether the loss of left offensive tackle Landon Young will sink the Kentucky football season.

So who will step into the opening at left tackle? Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader looks at the candidates, primarily redshirt freshman Naasir Watkins and sophomore E.J. Price, the transfer from Southern Cal. One silver lining: The experience at the other O-line spots.

SEC football actually gets underway Thursday night as Jimbo Fisher makes his Texas A&M debut. The Aggies play host to Northwestern State. It’s an 8:30 p.m. kickoff on the SEC Network. Kentucky travels to College Station on Nov. 6.

The Kansas City Star has an interesting feature on how Drew Lock’s sixth-grade team helped shape Missouri’s starting quarterback. That’s when the then 11-year-old began playing quarterback full time. Now he could be the first QB taken in next year’s NFL Draft.

Mississippi State has suspended star quarterback Nick Fitzgerald for the Bulldogs’ opener against Stephen F. Austin. New head coach Joe Moorhead shouldn’t suffer too much, not with capable backup Keytaon Thompson taking over the MSU offense before Fitzgerald’s return. Thompson led State to its win over Louisville in last season’s TaxSlayer Bowl.

Kentucky outside linebacker Josh Allen talks about UK’s outside linebacker on the other side, Boogie Watson, before the Cats play Central Michigan in the season opener on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018.

John Adams of the Knoxville News-Sentinel lists nine reasons for Tennessee fans to be excited heading into the opener against West Virginia. Would one be that Butch Jones is no longer UT’s football coach?

LSU has a tough Sunday night opener with the Miami Hurricanes, who could go 12-0 and still have a high mountain to climb, says Greg Cote of the Miami Herald. “Miami must also find a way to climb up over 2016 champ (and ACC roadblock) Clemson,” he writes.

By the way, I picked Clemson to win the national title. The Tigers’ defensive line has the potential to be downright ridiculous.

LSU will start Ohio State grad transfer Joe Burrow at quarterback. Tigers Coach Ed Orgeron says he isn’t worried about Burrow’s inexperience with his new team’s offense because LSU has a new offensive coordinator in Steve Ensminger.

South Carolina Coach Will Muschamp has given his players wristbands that say EWAS, which stands for Every Week’s A Season. “It’s really our motto all the time,” says Coach Boom. The Gamecocks open with Coastal Carolina on Saturday.

Arkansas will wear all white for its opener against Eastern Illinois. It will be the debut for new Razorbacks head coach Chad Morris, former head man at SMU.

Bryce Drew hasn’t won many games at Vanderbilt yet, but the Commodores’ coach is sure getting players. The latest is four-star guard Austin Crowley, who has committed to Vandy for the 2019-20 season. Drew boasts an impressive freshman class for the upcoming hoops season.

Kentucky defensive coordinator Matt House talks about the Central Michigan offense, led by 1,000-yard running back Jonathan Ward and 6-foot-7 quarterback Tony Poljan. UK plays CMU on Saturday at Kroger Field.



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