Sidelines with John Clay

Kentucky football and SEC Media Days links from third day

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops speaks to the media at SEC Football Media Days, Wednesday, July 13, 2016, in Hoover, Ala.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops speaks to the media at SEC Football Media Days, Wednesday, July 13, 2016, in Hoover, Ala. Associated Press

Big Blue Links for Thursday:

Jon Toth makes it look easy. Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader reports on the Kentucky center, who was one of three Cats who made the trip to Hoover, Alabama for SEC Media Days along with head coach Mark Stoops. Toth is a mechanical engineering major who said that in his spare time he’s working on a “tow tank” project. You’ll have to read the story to find out.

Mark Stoops says UK can’t lose sleep over lost commitments. As Smith reports, the UK coach said the Cats are still recruiting several of the players that de-committed this summer. Rivals has dropped Kentucky’s 2017 recruiting class to No. 40 in its rankings. There is a lot of time between now and the first Wednesday in February, i.e. National Signing Day, however.

Smith also has a question-and-answer with Stoops, who met with the Kentucky media in Alabama before hitting the big stage at SEC Football Media Days.

Freddie Maggard does some self-scouting on the Kentucky football Cats. His thoughts include, “With glaring concerns on its defensive line coupled with an inexperienced group of linebackers, running the football straight at the Cats is the most appropriate course of action. UK managed only 17 QB sacks in 2015 to go along with 53 tackles for loss.”

Stoops continues to say good things about Ryan Timmons. As Larry Vaught reports, the UK coach believes the former Franklin County star will finally flourish in his senior season. Injuries have kept the fleet receiver from reaching his potential.

Has Kentucky football moved past the Louisville meltdown? So asks WDRB’s Rick Bozich. Kentucky held a 24-7 lead at the half over the Cardinals last year before a second-half collapse led to a 38-24 Louisville victory. Of course, U of L quarterback Lamar Jackson had much to do with the Cards’ second-half surge.

Courtney Love is embracing his leadership role. Derek Terry of Cats Illustrated reports on the Nebraska transfer who sat out last season but is ready to take over at linebacker this season. “I wouldn’t change anything,” Love said. “My road here, starting off in Nebraska to coming here and sitting out last season. I feel like it made me a better person, made me a better player, helped me lead my team better and it helped me see things in a different perspective.”

UK juco transfer Jordan Bonner won’t be on campus until August. Jon Hale of the C-J reports on some disappointing news for the Cats. Bonner is a linebacker from Miami who played at Northwest Oklahoma A&M.

The fight for fourth is an underrated storyline in the SEC East. Josh Kendall of The State writes, “There’s nothing sexy about shooting for fourth. There are no catchy mottos, no trophies, no contract bonuses that reward staying right in the middle of the road; but being the best of the worst is very important for each of the four head coaches of those teams.”

The real Nick Saban came out at SEC Media Days. Kevin Scarbinsky of AL.com writes about the heated exchanges between the Alabama football coach and ESPN’s Paul Finebaum on Wednesday in Alabama. The issue was Saban’s handling of discipline matters involving Tide players Cam Robinson and Hootie Jones.

Saban should still suspend the players from the opener. That’s the opinion of Duane Rankin of the Montgomery Advertiser.

Don’t question Saban’s compassion for his team. Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News thinks Saban was frustrated Wednesday because he wasn’t asked the right question.

Steve Spurrier’s Media Days successor is Bret Bielema. Hugh Kellenberger of the Clarion-Ledger writes on the Arkansas football coach, who brought some colorful comments to Hoover.

Mack Rhoades is leaving as Missouri’s AD. After just 15 months on the job, Rhoades is departing to become the new athletics director at Baylor. “I met with (interim) Chancellor (Hank) Foley this morning to inform him of my decision,” Rhoades said in a statement from the Mizzou athletic department. “...While my family is excited to start this new chapter in our lives, we do so with great appreciation for our time at Mizzou.”

Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star thinks Mizzou might be better off.

Missouri has problems if its AD is leaving Columbia for the dumpster fire that is Baylor, says Pat Forde of Yahoo.

Kentucky’s basketball coaches receive raises and extensions. Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader has the details. UK president Eli Capiluto got a raise. UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart got a raise. Makes sense that the basketball staff would get a pay bump, as well.

Kentucky women’s basketball lost out on a state recruit to Louisville. Seygan Robins, a 5-foot-9 junior from Mercer County, committed to U of L on Wednesday.

On the men’s side, Marvin Bagley is feeling right at home as the nation’s top recruit. Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated writes, “Marvin Bagley III has a grown man's frame and a grown man's game, but there are moments when the little boy in him comes out. Such was the case last Wednesday night, when Bagley sat in a hotel lobby and talked about the game he was to play the next morning against his former high school teammate, DeAndre Ayton, at the Nike EYBL Peach Jam, one of the premier events on the summer recruiting circuit.”

There will be lots of Kentucky basketball during UK’s takeover day on the SEC Network. The programming starts with the 2014-15 basketball team’s total bashing of the UCLA Bruins in Chicago.

Pittsburgh Pirates star Josh Harrison has some strong family ties to UK athletics. Jamie Vaught of KyForward writes, “Wait, before you get the wrong idea, the friendly and personable Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman didn’t play for the Wildcats. But his family members did. His cousins from Lexington — John T. Shelby and JaVon Shelby — were baseball standouts at UK. Both were All-SEC performers and moved on to professional ranks. John was drafted by the Chicago White Sox and played six years in the White Sox and Tampa Bay Rays organizations.”

Dolly Parton says she had a very special bond with Pat Summitt. Parton will be appearing at the Norton Center in Danville on August 9.

What happened in Kevin Stallings’ first 100 days at Pittsburgh. The Tennessean has the details of the former Vanderbilt coach’s transition to his new job in the ACC.

Last 10 SEC football champions

2015 - Alabama

2014 - Alabama

2013 - Auburn

2012 - Alabama

2011 - LSU

2010 - Auburn

2009 - Alabama

2008 - Florida

2007 - LSU

2006 - Florida

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