Sidelines with John Clay

Big Blue Links: Preparing for UK-Mississippi State; Alabama wins another football title

Alabama fans flood the streets and sidewalks after Alabama defeated Clemson in the NCAA college playoff championship football game, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Alabama fans flood the streets and sidewalks after Alabama defeated Clemson in the NCAA college playoff championship football game, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Associated Press

Big Blue Links for Tuesday:

Mississippi State’s road troubles face toughest test, reports Michael Bonner of the Clarion-Ledger. “Mississippi State captured three road wins last year, but Craig Sword, Fred Thomas and Gavin Ware went 1-21 in their first two seasons. The Bulldogs are 0-3 so far this season, and 4-36 overall. A part of seniors' poor road record is a winless overall one against Kentucky. The Wildcats have won eight in a row in the series, since the Bulldogs’ 66-57 win at Rupp Arena in 2009.”

Kentucky might soon turn to Tai Wynyard for a post presence, reports Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader. “Perhaps a child shall lead them. Kentucky basketball’s search for a physical presence around the basket might soon turn to freshman Tai Wynyard. He doesn’t turn 18 until Feb. 5. That might make him the youngest player in college basketball this season.”

UK has no plans to redshirt Wynyard, reports Kyle Tucker of the Courier-Journal. “I don’t think so. We haven’t talked about it. I think he’s going to be able to help our team,” the coach said. “He’s just now getting in shape. You gotta understand, he’s only been here a couple weeks now, and I’m still trying to work Skal (Labissiere) into where he needs to be, which means I can’t just take those minutes and give them to Tai.”

Gavin Ware is a player to watch, reports Alex Forkner of the Cats Pause. “Ware ranks first in the league in field goal percentage and 11th nationally. The 6-9, 260-pound Starkville native has scored in double figures in every game this season. Against Texas A&M, Ware scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, notching his fourth double-double of the season and 16th of his career.”

John Calipari tries to squash Brooklyn speculation, reports Tipton. “It is widely believed that the Nets CEO, Brett Yormark, has been promoting the hiring of Calipari as a savior for the franchise. Yormark held an entry level job with the Nets when Calipari was coach. With each having a knack for marketing and an irrepressible personality, Calipari became something of a mentor.”

Calipari can do better than the Nets, says Tim Sullivan of the Courier-Journal. “The best reason to believe John Calipari is not leaving Kentucky for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets is that he is not already gone.”

Calipari has ties to the Nets, but there’s no indication of a match, reports Brian Windhorst of espn.com. “Wes Wesley, Calipari's coaching agent, has told plenty in power across the NBA that it would take an offer of no less than "$120 million guaranteed" to get Calipari's interest, sources said. It has not been clear how many years that would entail or whether it would require him to coach for the entire contract. One of Calipari's perceived selling points, sources said, is the horde of former Kentucky stars who are scheduled to become free agents over the next three to four years whom Calipari could recruit again to a new NBA home.”

Some mid-season college basketball awards, from Mark Story of the Herald-Leader. “For Sunday night’s Golden Globes, actress Kate Hudson is reported (by the New York Post) to have worn $1.3 million worth of Forevermark Diamonds. At the Orange Globes — my midseason Kentucky college basketball awards ‘show’ — the only diamonds on display will be in discussions of how to attack a ‘diamond-and-one’ defense.”

Kentucky basketball 2015-16 results and schedule in a Google Doc

UK commit Kash Daniel turns down Michigan, reports Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader. “A few hours after Kash Daniel’s solid performance in Saturday’s Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, the phone rang with one last recruiting call from a college coach. It was Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh on the other line, and he was offering Daniel a scholarship to play for the Wolverines. Kentucky’s Mr. Football — a UK commitment since July — told Harbaugh that his plans were already set.”

Title game had it all, including a sweet win for Alabama, writes Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News. “The dynasty is not dead. If Clemson couldn't kill it, throwing every imaginable weapon at the Crimson Tide, one wonders what will. The fourth national championship in seven years was scarier than any of the other three, which will only make it sweeter.”

Alabama spoils Clemson’s dream season, reports Matt Connolly of The State. “Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson starred in the defeat, passing for 405 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for 73 yards. He connected with receiver Hunter Renfrow twice in the first half for scores to match Heisman winner Derrick Henry’s two touchdown runs as the game was tied at 14 at the half.”

Gutsy play helps Alabama get past Clemson, writes Ralph Russo of the AP. “It finally broke open on perhaps the boldest call of Saban's career. With 10:34 left in the fourth quarter and Alabama having just tied the game at 24-24, Saban took a gamble to try to keep the ball away from Watson. He called for an onside kick called Pop Kick from Adam Griffith and Alabama defensive back Marlon Humphrey caught it over the shoulder at midfield. Tide turned.”

Unlikely trick play helps Bama win title, writes Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports. “Alabama had seen the opportunity on film, and earlier in the game. Clemson safety Jayron Kearse, the man on the far left end of the Tigers' return team, was prone to turning and running before the ball was kicked. And on previous kicks Monday night, the Tigers had squeezed their return formation toward the middle of the field and left the sideline uncovered.”

Alabama reveals a talent we didn’t know it had, writes Chuck Culpepper of the Washington Post. “As the mastodon of the college football 2010s, Alabama long since proved it can block, tackle, run, pass and ruin the Saturdays of ambitious opponents. Yet when it secured its whopping fourth national title in the last seven years on a compelling Monday night, it suddenly brandished another knack.”

Kentucky football 2016 schedule

  • Sept. 3 Southern Miss
  • Sept. 10 @Florida
  • Sept. 17 New Mexico State
  • Sept. 24 South Carolina
  • Oct. 1 @Alabama
  • Oct. 8 Vanderbilt
  • Oct. 15 open date
  • Oct. 22 Mississippi State
  • Oct. 29 @Missouri
  • Nov. 5 Georgia
  • Nov. 12 @Tennessee
  • Nov. 19 Austin Peay
  • Nov. 26 @Louisville
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