Sidelines with John Clay

Big Blue Links: One-and-dones, SEC hirings and Alabama’s dominance

Alabama defensive coach Kirby Smart works against Florida during the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, in Atlanta.
Alabama defensive coach Kirby Smart works against Florida during the first half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, in Atlanta. The Associated Press

Big Blue Links for Sunday:

Skal Labissiere and the love shove is my Sunday column. “And Labissiere is better than that as he will surely show as the season progresses. A plum of a prospect, the 6-foot-11 native of Haiti has some of the silkiest offensive skills you’ll see. He was expected to follow in the long line of Kentucky/John Calipari big men — DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns — who did a one-year star-turn before hugging the commissioner in the early moments of the NBA Draft.”

UK basketball notebook: Age affects opinions about one-and-done, reports Jerry Tipton of Herald-Leader. “It’s definitely generational,” said Sports Illustrated's Alexander Wolff. “The more old-fashioned you are, the more you think four years of college. The purpose of it is education, and it’s its own reward. But if you polled by age, you’d find young people more willing to see athletes get paid. They don’t begrudge them anything.”

Longtime UK football fans say 2015 may have been their tipping point, writes Mark Story of the Herald-Leader. “I look at the investment we make each year, it’s not easy for some of us to come up with $5,000, $6,000 that we put into season tickets, and tailgating and all that stuff,” said Wade Cunningham. “You put all that into it, it’s pretty frustrating to see the product we’ve got on the field. So I’m just not sure I’m going to buy season tickets again.”

Kings scramble to adjust after Cauley-Stein's injury, reports Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. “I was disappointed for him,” said Kings coach George Karl. “I think he’s had not a great rookie year but solid to decent rookie year for us so far. I’ve enjoyed coaching him, and I think he’s done a great job of learning the game.”

Is help on the way with Tai Wynyard? asks Chris Fisher of the Cats Pause. “I would be surprised if any guy who is 17-years-old is capable of coming in and contributing to maybe the most talented team in the country,” Draft Express' Jonathon Givony said. “It’s going to take him a while to get acclimated to a new routine, a new climate, new food. Plus, he still has to learn their system. Everything is going to be new to this guy. Same as if you plopped us down in the middle of New Zealand, you’re not going to be very useful from day one so to expect him to contribute is a bit unrealistic.”

UK basketball individual game-by-game stats in a Google Doc

Is there a graceful exit option for Kentucky football? asks Billy Reed of KyForward. “So it would be easy to make a case in favor of firing Stoops. Nothing against him personally – he seems like a good and decent man – but he has not shown the progress in three years that would inspire confidence about UK’s future. To the contrary, he has raised questions about his ability to manage a game and coach up the talent he has recruited.”

Louisville is better without its four departed pros, writes Rick Bozich of WDRB. “Saturday, after Louisville dispatched Grand Canyon, 111-63, at the KFC Yum! Center, I’m prepared to argue this point: The Cardinals (6-1) are a better team without the $2.8 Million Men. Trust me, I starting pushing this argument before Louisville made 13 of its first 14 shots and rolled Dan Majerle’s team.”

Alabama lives up to expectations in win over Florida, writes Guerry Clegg of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. “In between, the Tide administered the Gators one of the all-time beat-downs. The Gators’ leading rusher was Kelvin Taylor with 8 yards. Florida had 168 yards on six plays. Other than that, the Gators had 12 yards on 39 plays.’

Henry is not quite Herschel, but Bama is still great, says Mark Bradley of the AJC. “1. Derrick Henry broke Herschel Walker’s SEC single-season rushing record, but Henry isn’t quite Herschel Walker. That’s no sin. To these eyes, Herschel was the greatest player in the history of college football. And Henry did need 13 games to break a mark Herschel set in 11 games in 1981, his sophomore season. (For reasons that never made a lick of sense, bowl stats weren’t counted back then.) But Henry is terrific in his own right.”

Florida wasted a good defense, writes Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun. “In the hushed tones of the locker room, Treon Harris answered questions but offered no answers. He had just finished another performance that had Gator fans again cursing his name and wondering why Florida didn’t turn to a wide receiver or, heck, a defensive back behind center.”

Alabama’s tidal wave was too much, writes Jesse Simonton of the Miami Herald. “I don’t think anybody really thought after the Ole Miss game this team would wind up here,” Saban said. “To be honest with you, I had some questions in my mind as to whether we’d wind up here.”

South Carolina hiring Will Muschamp a new coach, reports Josh Kendall of The State. The former Florida head coach has agreed in principle to replace Steve Spurrier, who also coached at Florida.

Kirby Smart maintains silence on Georgia job, reports Jason Butt of the Macon Telegraph. “It’s expected for Georgia to announce Smart’s hiring on Sunday. When Smart is actually introduced at a news conference remains to be seen. It could be as early as Monday. It could be sometime in January. Smart has told his players he’ll be coaching with them through the College Football Playoff, which at maximum will be two games in January.”

Texas A&M basketball loses at Arizona State, reports AP. “Willie Atwood had 15 points to lead Arizona State’s balanced offense, and the Sun Devil men’s basketball team held off a late charge to beat No. 18 Texas A&M 67-54 on Saturday night. Arizona State (6-2) had some solid wins to start the season and passed its first big test by beating the Aggies, the third ranked nonconference team to play at Wells Fargo Arena in 32 years.”

LSU is about to get Craig Victor, reports Sheldon Mickles. “Victor, a sophomore, will be eligible after final exams are completed Saturday. He was forced to sit out the first seven regular-season games for leaving Arizona last January after playing in eight of a possible 14 games.”

Kentucky men’s basketball next five games

  • Dec. 9 Eastern Kentucky (7:00/ESPN2)
  • Dec. 12 Arizona State (3:15/ESPN)
  • Dec. 19 Ohio State in Brooklyn (3:30/CBS)
  • Dec. 26 Louisville (12:00/CBS)
  • Jan. 2 Ole Miss (7:00/SEC)

Kentucky women’s basketball next five games

  • Dec. 10 Louisville (7:00/SEC)
  • Dec. 13 @Middle Tennessee (3:00)
  • Dec. 20 Duke (7:00/SEC)
  • Dec. 28 Tennessee State (7:00/SEC)
  • Jan. 3 @Auburn (3:00/SEC+)
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