Sidelines with John Clay

Kentucky returns Alabama football tickets; college basketball recruiting heats up; more Big Blue Links

Alabama head football coach Nick Saban addresses the area’s top high school football players and their coaches during the annual SportsVisions Columbus (GA) Valley Area High School Football Awards Luncheon Thursday at the St. Luke Ministry Center on December 11, 2015.
Alabama head football coach Nick Saban addresses the area’s top high school football players and their coaches during the annual SportsVisions Columbus (GA) Valley Area High School Football Awards Luncheon Thursday at the St. Luke Ministry Center on December 11, 2015. Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Big Blue Links for Thursday:

Kentucky has returned more than 1,000 tickets for game at Alabama. Michael Casagrande of reports, “Kentucky’s first football trip to Tuscaloosa since 2008 wasn’t a hot seller among Wildcat fans. The school returned more than a thousand tickets for the homecoming game Oct. 1 in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Those seats were placed on sale for the general public Wednesday afternoon on Alabama’s website.”

Fox Sports hires Shannon Spake away from ESPN. Awful Announcing reports, “This looks like a logical addition for Fox, as Spake has significant experience in a wide variety of the sports where they have key rights. She also has experience on the production side with CBS and HBO, and she should be well-suited to what Fox has in mind here. Interestingly, Spake’s hire even received praise from the woman she’s replacing as the lead sideline reporter for Fox’s CFB coverage, Molly McGrath.”

No news on where Terrence Jones might end up. That’s the lead to my random notes column, which also includes notes on the Reds, college football, ESPN and other topics.

John Calipari starts watching prospects on Nike circuit. Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader reports, “UK Coach John Calipari started the July live recruiting period at the Nike Peach Jam finals in North Augusta, S.C., where nearly all of his top targets will be playing this week. Calipari watched class of 2017 standouts Mohamed Bamba and Quade Green in the opening game of the Peach Jam on Wednesday night. “

Can Duke continue its recruiting dominance? So asks ESPN’s Jeff Goodman. “In the past, Duke has generally identified and focused on a limited number of players. Recently, they have expanded a bit, but the Blue Devils are still focused on about eight prospects in the Class of 2017. The top priorities are big man Wendell Carter, a 6-foot-9 Atlanta native who is the No. 2 player in the class and is also considering Kentucky and Harvard; 6-foot-8 wing forward Kevin Knox, who checks in at No. 7 and hails from Tampa, Florida; 6-foot-11 center Mohamed Bamba (No. 3) from Westtown School in Harlem, New York; and 6-foot-5 shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. (No. 9) from Apple Valley, Minnesota.”

July college basketball recruiting for dummies. Gary Parrish of CBS Sports writes, “Odds are, unless you’re a hardcore fan, you don’t follow college basketball recruiting too closely. That’s my impression, at least. So you probably don’t know Mitchell Robinson from Davion Mitchell. And you might not realize the player once known as the “Shaq of the MAC” now has a son who’s one of the 10 best prospects in the Class of 2017. And you likely have no idea that Creighton currently has a top-three recruiting class, according to 247 Sports.”

Tennessee defends culture with a payout. John Adams of the Knoxville News Sentinel writes, “Tennessee officials have said all along there’s nothing wrong with the culture surrounding their athletic program. And they’re willing to spend almost $2.5 million not to prove it. Attorneys announced in a press release Tuesday that the Title IX lawsuit against UT had been settled for $2.48 million. Case closed.”

Tennessee has settled but can’t be silent. Joe Rexrode of the Tennessean writes, “We won’t hear much more from the University of Tennessee about the sexual assault lawsuit it just settled for $2.48 million, but there are a couple things we need to hear. One, that UT is going to learn and change from this, that it will ramp up its education and prevention efforts and use this as a turning point.”

Georgia forced to adjust in wake of Sony Michel injury. Jason Butt of Macon Telegraph reports, “Running back Sony Michel sustained a broken left forearm in an all-terrain vehicle accident Sunday, with the injury being surgically repaired Monday. No timetable for an expected recovery was announced, and it’s not known if this injury could be something Michel could potentially play with, similar to the broken hand he played through last season. It’s a big blow to Georgia because the Bulldogs are also waiting on star running back Nick Chubb to be cleared to resume full-contact football activities. Chubb is coming off a severe left knee injury in which his PCL, MCL and LCL were all torn along with damage to his cartilage.”

Ole Miss has 2,000 tickets remaining for Florida State game. Parrish Alford reports, “The school received an allotment of 13,400 for the Camping World Kickoff and has only $75 terrace level seats available. Florida State sold out of its larger allotment, 31,900, in md-June. Kickoff will be Sept. 5 at 7 p.m., and the game will be televised by ESPN.”

Kentucky picked its representatives for next week’s SEC Football Media Days. Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader has the details.

Missouri gets help at running back. Tod Palmer of the Kansas City Star reports, “Missouri’s backfield is getting a bit more crowded, but that’s a good thing. Hinds (Miss.) Community College running back Nate Strong will be eligible to join the Tigers for the fall semester. Unconfirmed reports during the spring indicated that Strong’s enrollment would be delayed until January as he waited to complete coursework at Hinds, but a source confirmed to The Star on Wednesday that he’ll be eligible to enroll at Mizzou after all. “

It’s a messy breakup for Miami and Dwyane Wade. Dan Le Batard of the Miami Herald writes, “So cruel sometimes, the emotions business. Dwyane Wade leaves Miami now, all wrong, and the people who care deeply, too deeply, unreasonably deeply, will argue and yell about where the blame should go for that. It will be passionate and hurt and angry, but then that will exhaust itself, and you know what will take its place? Sadness. Deep, awful, empty, dark sadness that feels a lot like a sickness in the bones. Sports, man. “

It’s the Warriors who made the mistake. David Jones of Penn Live writes, “Until now, every single story you have read about Kevin Durant bolting Oklahoma City for Oakland has been about Durant’s decision. But you won’t read about that here. I don’t think this earthshaking NBA transaction is about Durant evacuating a toxic situation with ball-hog Russell Westbrook. I don’t think it’s about Durant being a frontrunner and joining the team he couldn’t beat.”

Billy Donovan will be just fine even without Kevin Durant. Michael Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel writes, “Donovan is a smart man. He knew the deal when he took the Thunder job. He realized there was a chance Durant could leave after one season and the Thunder would go from championship contender to just another mediocre NBA franchise. Don’t feel sorry for Donovan. First of all, he is making $6 million a year to coach the Thunder -- nearly twice what he was making at UF.”

Bovada odds to win SEC

  • Alabama 7/4
  • LSU 7/2
  • Tennessee 7/2
  • Georgia 9/1
  • Ole Miss 10/1
  • Texas A&M 16/1
  • Auburn 18/1
  • Florida 18/1
  • Arkansas 20/1
  • Kentucky 50/1
  • Missouri 50/1
  • Mississippi State 50/1
  • South Carolina 66/1
  • Vanderbilt 100/1
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