Sidelines with John Clay

Big Blue Links: John Calipari’s honor bugs columnist; Rajon Rondo’s cop-out

NBA referee Bill Kennedy (55) talked with Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo (9) during a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Sacramento on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. Rondo was suspended a game after he was given a technical by Kennedy in Mexico City in early December after allegedly making a slur at him.
NBA referee Bill Kennedy (55) talked with Sacramento Kings guard Rajon Rondo (9) during a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Sacramento on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. Rondo was suspended a game after he was given a technical by Kennedy in Mexico City in early December after allegedly making a slur at him. Sacramento Bee

Big Blue Links for Tuesday:

UMass should vacate decision to honor John Calipari, writes Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe. “It’s Calipalooza for the University of Massachusetts Athletic Department this week. John Calipari, UMass’s former head basketball coach — a man who took the Minutemen to their greatest heights and lowest depths — will be honored Tuesday and Wednesday at events in Boston and Amherst. What an embarrassment for our state university. You’d think our UMass officials would have as much good sense as the president of the University of Memphis, who canceled a Cal celebration after initially thinking it would be a good idea to honor college basketball’s all-time bag man.”

Calipari says no one is going to steal his joy, reports Daniel Malone of MassLive. “While the upcoming event is the source of consternation for some with prominent Boston sports columns, Calipari himself appears excited to return to his old stomping grounds to remember what his teams accomplished during "the Golden years" of UMass basketball.”

Is this the year Rick Pitino gets out of his rivalry rut? asks Mark Story of the Herald-Leader. “For Pitino, the red side of the U of L-UK grudge match has been the polar opposite from the heady days when his neckties were blue and he was leading Kentucky to six wins in eight tries (1989-1997) against Louisville. Yet even with all that negative history working against Pitino, Kentucky fans might be wise to be a bit nervous about the Dec. 26 throwdown in Rupp Arena.”

Rajon Rondo apologizes for anti-gay slur directed at referee, reports the AP. “My actions during the game were out of frustration and emotion, period!” Rondo tweeted after declining comment following Monday’s practice. “They absolutely do not reflect my feelings toward the LGBT community. I did not mean to offend or disrespect anyone.”

Rondo’s apology was the easy way out, writes Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee. “Yet here it is, December 2015, and instead of stepping up, Rondo finished shooting jumpers and expressed his thoughts via Twitter. ‘My actions during the game were out of frustration and emotion, period!’ he tweeted. ‘They absolutely do not reflect my feelings toward the LGBT community. I did not mean to offend or disrespect anyone.’ So why not just say he’s sorry? And say so publicly instead of tweeting a comment that sounds more like a 140-character cop-out than apology? Didn’t we learn anything from Bill Clinton?”

You’d think our UMass officials would have as much good sense as the president of the University of Memphis, who canceled a Cal celebration after initially thinking it would be a good idea to honor college basketball’s all-time bag man.

Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaugnessy

Top basketball recruit Jarred Vanderbilt makes most of his Kentucky visit, reports Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader. “From an individual standpoint, however, Vanderbilt confirmed his status as one of the top 10 prospects in the class of 2017. The highlight of his four-game stretch in Kentucky came Sunday, when he tallied 33 points, 23 rebounds and nine assists in a 121-101 loss to Word of God Academy (N.C.) in a game that remained close until overmatched Victory Prep ran out of steam in the second half.”

UK defensive tackle Cory Johnson named second-team All-SEC, reports UKAA. “Johnson, a 6-3 defensive tackle from Columbia, S.C., earns his first All-SEC honor after leading all SEC defensive linemen in tackles in 2015 with 67. He also totaled eight tackles for loss, two sacks, one interception, one fumble recovery, one fumble caused, one pass breakup, two quarterback hurries and a blocked field goal. He recorded a career-high 19 tackles, including the game-ending quarterback sack, in the overtime win vs. Eastern Kentucky, had a 77-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Tennessee and an amazing acrobatic interception vs. Charlotte.”

Gus Malzahn isn’t interested in detailing his search, reports Michael Niziolek of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. “Linebackers coach Lance Thompson’s name has come up as a potential candidate to replace Will Muschamp, but Malzahn has declined to say if he would be considered or interviewed for the position on two occasions. The timeline remains ‘sooner rather than later,’ but Malzahn isn’t putting pressure on himself to hire someone before the bowl game.’

Kirby Smart in no rush to complete Georgia staff, reports Jason Butt of the Macon Telegraph. “On Saturday, Smart hired offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and offensive line coach Sam Pittman to his staff, which came at a good time. With quarterback recruit Jacob Eason, of Lake Stevens, Washington, in town during the weekend, Smart could finally tell Eason, a Georgia commitment who opened his recruitment to consider Florida after former head coach Mark Richt was fired, who will run his offense.”

Hiring of Kurt Roper at South Carolina gets positive review, reports Josh Kendall of The State. “When Kurt Roper first took a job with the Cleveland Browns, Connor Shaw leaned on him for a lot of advice. Now, Roper is leaning on Shaw. ‘He’s asking me about restaurants, places to live, everything,’ Shaw said. ‘He’s so excited, and I’m so excited for him for that opportunity. I’m super stoked about Coach Roper getting there.”

SEC bowl schedule

  • Dec. 29 - Texas Bowl: LSU vs. Texas Tech (9:00/ESPN)
  • Dec. 30 - Birmingham Bowl: Auburn vs. Memphis (12:00/ESPN)
  • Dec. 30 - Belk Bowl: Mississippi State vs. N.C. State (3:30/ESPN)
  • Dec. 30 - Music City Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Louisville (7:00/ESPN)
  • Dec. 31 - Cotton Bowl: Alabama vs. Michigan State (8:00/ESPN)
  • Jan. 1 - Outback Bowl: Tennessee vs. Northwestern (12:00/ESPN2)
  • Jan. 1 - Citrus Bowl: Florida vs. Michigan (1:00/ABC)
  • Jan. 1 - Sugar Bowl: Ole Miss vs. Oklahoma State (8:30/ESPN)
  • Jan. 2 - TaxSlayer Bowl: Georgia vs. Penn State (12:00/ESPN)
  • Jan. 2 - Liberty Bowl: Arkansas vs. Kansas State (3:20/ESPN)
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