Sidelines with John Clay

Mark Stoops is mid-season national Coach of the Year and more links

Links of interest for Thursday:

Bruce Feldman of The Athletic picks Kentucky’s Mark Stoops as his mid-season Coach of the Year and Josh Allen as his mid-season Outside Linebacker of the Year. ”Mark Stoops, Kentucky. He’s made UK football respectable the past few years, and this season the ’Cats have mauled some solid SEC opponents. They won at Florida for the first time since 1979 by running it down the Gators’ throats. They also whipped Mississippi State by three touchdowns and beat South Carolina by two touchdowns. Their only blemish is an overtime loss at Texas A&M.”

Anthony Davis is huge everywhere but New Orleans, writes Jerry Brewer of the Washington Post. “Anthony Davis grabbed the microphone and said a few words to the crowd. On the surface, it was nothing meaningful, just an obligatory superstar acknowledgment and thank you to the 7,426 fans who came to the New Orleans Pelicans’ recent open practice at the Smoothie King Center. He spoke for six seconds and then pivoted to a more comfortable task, hosting a rookie dance competition. No big deal. Very big deal.”

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports says there are two numbers that could lead to guilty verdicts in the college hoops trial. ”Among the testimony and text messages, wire-tapped phone calls and ridiculous tales presented to a federal jury here the past three weeks, two numbers have the potential to weigh heavily on their coming deliberations – 35 and 20. Neither involve illicit payouts, although they could. Rather, they connect to two of the men in college basketball’s federal fraud case that took plea deals with the government.”

LSU basketball coach Will Wade has some explaining to do, says Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com. “Thanks to revelations from the ongoing federal corruption case regarding NCAA basketball, we just might be learning why LSU suddenly -- almost magically -- has become a destination location for so many elite basketball recruits. The latest developments in the case revealed some damning allegations about LSU and Wade, its second-year basketball coach.”

Eric Bossi of Rivals has some examples of three-star recruits who became college basketball studs. ”Admiral Schofield, Tennesseed — As a high schooler: Schofield was a lot of fun to watch in high school because he was competitive, tough and very physical. He was all of that while liking to shoot jump shots. His game was easy to admire, but tough to project to a level like the SEC. How he’s become a college star: Schofield has worked his tail off, continued to evolve as a jump shooter and thanks to that skill, toughness and long arms he’s found a nice home in Rick Barnes’ small-ball style of play. The Volunteers have turned into a viable contender to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament this season, and the development of guys such as Schofield is a big reason why.”

NFL ratings are making a comeback, reports A.J. Katz of TVNewser. “I think with everything going on in the world today, people need sports more than they did in the past, and I think that’s reflected in the NFL ratings,” said CBS’ Sean McManus, who noted that NFL on CBS national games have been either flat or up year-over-year. “People are so tired of the divisiveness in this country, and so tired of all the political coverage, which to a large extent is very negative and very polarizing.”

State veterinarians examining high number of fatal breakdowns in Kentucky, reports the Paulick Report. ”There was a fair amount of concern following the short September race meeting at Churchill Downs, when four horses suffered fatal breakdowns in the space of four days, and two more suffered the same fate during morning training hours. According to drf.com, Churchill’s response was to bring in racing-surface specialist Mick Peterson; president Kevin Flanery said Peterson concluded that the surface ‘was as consistent as it has ever been.’”

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