Sidelines with John Clay

Big Blue Links: Kentucky football wrap-up; John Calipari’s radio debate

UK Coach Mark Stoops congratulated Drew Barker after the quarterback scored on a one-yard run against Louisville on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015.
UK Coach Mark Stoops congratulated Drew Barker after the quarterback scored on a one-yard run against Louisville on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. Lexington Herald-Leader

Big Blue Links for Wednesday:

Mark Stoops shows frustration, hope during post-season interview, reports Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader. “Nobody is more pissed off when you see bad football on the field than me,” Stoops said. “I know very clearly what good football looks like. I’ve seen it up close and personal for a long time. We’re going to get that done here.”

UK searching for solutions to problems on offense, reports Smith. “I talked about the mental, I talked about the physical, and then it’s coaching,” the head coach said. “You put those three things together, and I think we’ll improve. And I think there’s probably equal share in those three areas.”

Stoops still considering changes to staff, reports Jon Hale of the Courier-Journal. “It affects a lot of people in this program and everything we’re doing moving forward,” Stoops said Wednesday in a roundtable interview with The Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader. “I will do what makes sense and what’s best for this program in my best opinion and not be influenced by anybody else. I think it’s fair to say you have to evaluate everything, and, yes, we’re in the middle of looking into all that.”

John Calipari defends his handling of the UMass basketball program, reports Andrew Mahoney of the Boston Globe. "“Look, this is a time to celebrate an era of basketball,” said Calipari, now the coach at Kentucky. “I am not worried about what somebody thinks. None of those guys feel our joy. You look at what we were able to do and the kids and the graduation rates, the wins and exciting the campus. Again, a lot of people fought that now. They didn’t want UMass to do that and they are still mad about it today, that we were able to do what we did. Let me say this, what we’re doing and what UMass is doing, is not about me. It’s not about one player. It’s not about one season. It’s about that era.”

Calipari cuts short radio interview with Boston station, reports Fox Sports. Calipari said that he did things the right way at UMass when one of the hosts objected. “No. We didn’t know anything and what we did is everything ahead of schedule and we were on top of everything we did,” Calipari said. “Again, they said we didn’t know nor should we have known. We didn’t know or should have known what he did back in high school. Here is what I will say to you, again, that kid, you know what he ends up doing in the end? He ends up paying the money back that the school lost. It was about $150,000 and he paid the money back. It has never been done before. We were the ones that got Marcus Camby to talk — he was in the NBA, he didn’t need to talk to the NCAA.”

Don’t sweat the Skal stuff, says Eric Crawford of WDRB. “With Towns, he just needed time to adjust and warm up. Early-season duds against Buffalo and Boston U. last season were just aberrations. By the end of the season, he was the best big man in college basketball. By this time in his freshman year, Davis already had made an iconic play — a block to save the win over North Carolina in Rupp Arena. Cousins had eaten his first quivering opponent for breakfast. Noel had blocked 39 shots. But he is not — and let’s all be clear on this — any of those other guys.”

LSU's basketball season isn't lost yet, argues Scott Rabalais of The Advocate. "Things could start getting better soon for LSU. They must. Their pre-Southeastern Conference schedule has reached critical mass. The Tigers have only four games, all at home, left before opening SEC play at Vanderbilt, at home against Kentucky, then at Florida. It’s crucial if the Tigers want to climb the RPI ladder back into NCAA contention that they need to start winning now."

South Carolina matches its best basketball start in 45 years, reports David Cloninger of The State. "The Gamecocks overcame a whistle-marred contest to thump Drexel 79-54 on Tuesday, improving to 9-0 for the first time since their 1970-71 ACC championship season. USC hasn’t been 10-0 since a 17-game winning streak to start the 1933-34 season, but the Gamecocks weren’t thinking of how far they can take their current streak after dousing the Dragons."

Five-star quarterback Jacob Eason commits to Georgia a second time, reports Jason Butt of the Macon Telegraph. “Eason, who completed 235 of 338 passes for 3,585 yards and 43 touchdowns this year, has been through quite the journey from high school standout to expected superstar at Georgia. Two key coaching changes have occurred, neither of which kept him from being a Bulldog. It’s quite impressive in an era where player-coach relationships tend to out-rank almost any other criteria when choosing a school.”

Tennessee is keeping Butch Jones up with the Joneses, says Mike Strange of the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Butch Jones. Look what's in your stocking. That's what Tennessee said to its football coach Monday, announcing a $500,000 annual raise starting in 2016.”

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