Sidelines with John Clay

SEC Football Media Days wrap-up and Big Blue Links

South Carolina coach Will Muschamp speaks to the media at the SEC Football Media Days, Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Hoover, Ala.
South Carolina coach Will Muschamp speaks to the media at the SEC Football Media Days, Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Hoover, Ala. Associated Press

Big Blue Links for Friday:

Tyler Ulis is leaving a big mark in Summer League. Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic writes, “The four point guards selected in the first round of this year’s NBA draft have opened Summer League play with a total of 25 assists and 40 turnovers. The point guard that the Suns felt should have been selected in the mid-first round has 19 assists to only two turnovers through three games and is turning more heads on defense because of his 14 steals.”

Mark Stoops and players assure UK is ready to take next step. Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader reports, “It’s easy to see the changes around Kentucky’s football program. There’s the 100,000 square feet of a new practice facility tucked in next to the towering, renovated Commonwealth Stadium. There’s a new logo, some new uniforms. But in the wins column, there’s the same old Kentucky with a 12-24 record in Mark Stoops’ first three seasons and just four Southeastern Conference wins in that span.”

Small ball revolution continues to change recruiting game. Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News writes, “The No. 1 player in the basketball recruiting Class of 2017 stands 7 feet tall and is a balletic monster around the goal. The No. 2 player is 6-11 and has arms that seem to reach from sideline to sideline. The No. 3 player is a 6-10, 240-pounder who has bullied the best young big men in the world. So, hold on a second here: Weren’t we supposed to be in the process of a small-ball revolution? Weren’t the Warriors changing the face of basketball from a low-post, inside-out, big man’s game into a game weighted more toward spacing, ball movement and, most discernably, jump shooting?”

Kentucky football must take care of business in 2016. Zac Ellis of Sports Illustrated writes, “It’s hard to argue the culture hasn’t changed at Kentucky. Stoops has landed record-setting recruiting classes and improved the Wildcats’ from a 2–10 record during his first season in 2013. Plus, the school undertook a $120 million facelift to Commonwealth Stadium last fall and will soon cut the ribbon on a shiny new $45 million training center. But while Kentucky’s growth is evident in some areas, it’s not as evident in at least one: wins. Despite hot starts the past two seasons, the Wildcats have yet to reach a bowl game under Stoops. This fall Stoops desperately needs a postseason appearance to keep the process rolling at Kentucky, where the winning must finally catch up to the potential.”

Tennessee being picked to win SEC East shouldn’t be seen as a big endorsement. John Adams of the Knoxville News-Sentinel writes, “Tennessee shouldn’t take Thursday’s media endorsement to heart. Its favored status in the SEC East says as much about the division as the Vols. So what if they were picked to win the division at the conclusion of the SEC Football Media Days. Who else could you pick?”

Despite ESPYs snub, North Carolina-Villanova was game of the year. Andrew Carter of the Charlotte Observer writes, “ESPN held its annual ESPY Awards on Wednesday night and, outside of the social activism (like LeBron James speaking out against racial profiling and gun violence) and the recognition of the inspiring (like Craig Sager and his cancer fight), the ESPYS aren’t too significant. That’s no slight against ESPN or its ESPYS. It’s just that, well, sports doesn’t really need an Oscars-like awards show to tell us who the best athletes are, and best teams, and what the best moments of the year were. Because we already have a pretty good idea.”

Mike Leach says NFL teams are insecure about teaching. “Like there is something magical about teaching somebody to do that because whichever caveman invented football, they were taking snaps under the center,” Leach said on 710 ESPN in Seattle. “And I’m not talking just one scout or one person has asked me this. But somehow the insecurity that exists with some of these people and their ability to teach a quarterback to take a quarterback snap from under center I think is a disturbing commentary.”

Louisville’s season depends on Lamar Jackson’s growth. John Brietenbach of Pro Football Focus writes, “After dropping their first three games, Louisville was never in contention for the ACC title. Freshman QB Lamar Jackson had a mixed season, eventually leading the Cardinals to an 8-5 record. Clemson remains the favorite for a repeat in 2016, but could they be challenged by a Louisville team flushed with talent? “

Les Miles wants his players to be a force for good. Scott Rabalais of The Advocate writes, “A lot of things have been said of Les Miles in his 12 years as LSU’s coach. Off the cuff, he can be The Mad Hatter. But get Miles in a crisis, especially one not of his own doing and he becomes someone else entirely, setting a calm tone for those around him. It was that kind of response, a measured, insightful clarity, that we saw from Miles on Thursday as he and three LSU players arrived here for their sessions at Southeastern Conference Media Days, an appearance that comes in the protest-filled aftermath of Alton Sterling’s shooting on July 5.”

Hugh Freeze says Ole Miss should be held accountable. Daniel Pauling of The Advocate writes, “The NCAA began its investigation into Ole Miss’ athletic department in 2012. Four years later, the process still doesn’t seem to have an end date. Coach Hugh Freeze said Thursday morning at the Southeastern Conference Media Days that he had “zero update” on the process and that an estimate about a timeline would be ‘a total guess.’”

Winners and losers from Media Days. Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report writes, “No coach in America has as much fun as LSU’s Les Miles, and he’s not afraid to tell you about it. Miles kicked off his annual stump speech on Thursday and, as per usual, rattled off his offseason world-tour stops.”

Will Muschamp sits on an interesting seat. Josh Kendall of The State writes, “No, Will Muschamp is not on the hot seat. In fact, nobody has even said Will Muschamp is on the hot seat. The “hot seat” talk surrounding South Carolina’s new head football coach comes from a national columnist who listed Muschamp in the “pressure mounting” category of his annual ‘hot seat rankings.’”

Peyton Manning honors Pat Summitt. Mike Griffith of SEC Country reports that Manning said, “She almost single-handedly made women’s sports relevant, well beyond mothers, and daughters and sisters and grandmothers. I think every Tennessee football player, including me, would have been proud to have been coached by Pat Summitt.”

Kentucky 2015 football game-by-game offense

Opponent

Rushing

Passing

Plays

Yards

Avg

UL-Lafayette

178

257

60

435

7.25

@S Carolina

207

192

67

399

5.96

Florida

115

126

65

241

3.71

Missouri

120

249

65

369

5.68

Eastern Ky

55

329

78

384

4.92

Auburn

138

359

77

497

6.45

@Miss State

163

260

85

423

4.98

Tennessee

165

184

65

349

5.37

@Georgia

79

101

47

180

3.83

@Vanderbilt

225

127

71

352

4.96

Charlotte

415

129

73

544

7.45

Louisville

92

199

63

291

4.62

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