Sidelines with John Clay

Shannon Dawson gets comfortable at Southern Miss, plus more Big Blue Links

UK offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson instructs quarterback Drew Barker during a game last season at Commonwealth Stadium. Dawson is now the offensive coordinator at Southern Miss, which opens the season Sept. 3 at Kentucky.
UK offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson instructs quarterback Drew Barker during a game last season at Commonwealth Stadium. Dawson is now the offensive coordinator at Southern Miss, which opens the season Sept. 3 at Kentucky. Lexington Herald-Leader

Big Blue Links for Monday:

Five burning questions as SEC Media Days start. Dustin Dopirak of the Knoxville News-Sentinel reports, “4. How much will the coaching turnover change the league? In his fourth season with Tennessee, Jones is already one of the deans of the SEC East. Georgia (Kirby Smart), Missouri (Barry Odom) and South Carolina (Will Muschamp) have first-year coaches after Florida (Jim McElwain) and Vanderbilt (Derek Mason) hired new coaches last season. The only other coach in the division who was with his team for the 2013 season was Kentucky’s Mark Stoops.”

It won’t be the same without Steve Spurrier. Tony Barnhart of Grdiron Now writes, “For the first time since 2004, and only the fourth time in the past 27 years, Spurrier will not appear at SEC Media Days. For 12 years at Florida (1990-2001) and 11 years at South Carolina (2005-2015), Spurrier was the guy who took no prisoners at the podium. No one escaped his barbs, not even the commissioner. “

Kentucky football’s new depth charts are out. Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader has the details. One of interest: Sihiem King is No. 3 at running back with Mikel Horton at No. 4 behind Boom Williams and Jojo Kemp.

Former NBA star Penny Hardaway impressed by UK targets. Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader reports, “Two of the top basketball recruits in the class of 2017 could end up playing together at the University of Kentucky, and they’ve spent the past few weeks teaming up on the Nike circuit. Those two prospects — John Petty and P.J. Washington — have made quite an impression on their AAU coach, former NBA star Penny Hardaway. “

Kevin Durant’s decision resonates with top recruits. Roberts reports, “Several of the nation’s top high school recruits spoke to the Herald-Leader over the past few days about Durant’s decision. Some saw similarities between the acceptance of NBA superstars to switch teams and their own AAU and high school decisions. Some compared Durant’s willingness to team up with top stars like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to recruits’ eagerness to play college ball with other five-star prospects. “

Trae Young leads team to Peach Jam title. Brent Strelow of the Fayetteville Observer reports, “Mokan Elite, led by versatile 6-foot-9 forward Michael Porter Jr. and 6-2 point guard Trae Young, claimed a 93-65 victory against the PSA Cardinals in the championship game of the Nike EYBL Finals at Peach Jam on Sunday in North Augusta, South Carolina. Porter scored 33 points and grabbed six rebounds. Young had 28 points and 11 assists. They shot a combined 21 of 31 from the field and 11 of 16 from 3-point range to finish the highest-profile recruiting event of the summer.”

Andrew Harrison has reportedly signed a contract with Memphis. “Former University of Kentucky player Andrew Harrison has worked his way to some NBA security. The starting point guard on Kentucky’s 38-1 Final Four team of 2014-15 has agreed to a three-year, $3 million contract with the Memphis Grizzlies, the team that drafted him in the second round last year. “

Shannon Spake on her move from ESPN to Fox Sports. She told Richard Deitsch of, “It really was so much more casual than you might think. Not only did I work at the SpeedChannel early in my career, but almost every weekend in the NASCAR TV compound, I would find myself sitting next to a Fox executive or reporter. I knew them, and they knew me, and over the years I have come to consider many of them close friends. Those relationships were key in my move.”

College baseball careers come with a cost. Dirk Chatelain of the Omaha World Herald reports, “Marks owes about $150,000 in student loans, he said, and he’s still one semester shy of his communications degree. He’s a poster child for college baseball’s money problem. Major-conference athletic departments, flush with cash from football TV deals, are spending on luxurious facilities, coaching salaries and new support staff. But little (if any) has trickled down to the dugouts. Tuition continues to rise, but the Division I scholarship limit of 11.7 doesn’t budge.”

Devin Booker scores 24 in Phoenix win on Sunday. The Las Vegas Journal Review has the Summer League recaps.

Georgia’s Jonathan Ledbetter arrested again. Seth Emerson of the AJC reports, “Jonathan Ledbetter, the Georgia defensive lineman who had alcohol charges dismissed earlier this year, was arrested again on Sunday morning. Ledbetter was charged with DUI and underage possession, both misdemeanors. He was booked at 6:05 a.m. and released on $2,000 bond at 10:24 a.m., according to the Athens-Clarke County jail web site. The Athens-Clarke County police was the arresting agency.”

Dave Joerger is playing it safe with Sacramento’s rookies. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reports, “Half of the Kings’ 2016 draft class missed Friday’s summer league opener and at least one will be unavailable Sunday against Houston. Guard Isaiah Cousins (strained right groin) is out for the second consecutive game. Center Georgios Papagiannis (left leg) is questionable. Both sat out Friday’s 88-47 loss to Toronto in Las Vegas. “

Indians rebuild can guide Reds. Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch writes, “When a friend of mine offered an overly sunny assessment of the Cincinnati Reds’ rebuilding process back in April, I blithely noted that his favorite team was in about the same place the Cleveland Indians were six or seven years ago. Given the Tribe’s fitful struggle to put all of the pieces together — prospects from trades, prospects from draft picks, shrewd veteran pickups from the scrap heap, stabs in the dark, etc. — his frown told me he didn’t like my timeline.”

Western Kentucky 2016 football schedule

  • Sept. 1 Rice
  • Sept. 10 @Alabama
  • Sept. 17 @Miami (O)
  • Sept. 24 Vanderbilt
  • Oct. 1 Houston
  • Oct. 6 @Louisiana Tech
  • Oct. 15 @Middle Tennessee
  • Oct. 22 Old Dominion
  • Oct. 29 @Florida Atlantic
  • Nov. 5 Florida International
  • Nov. 12 North Texas
  • Nov. 26 @Marshall
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