Sidelines with John Clay

Brad Calipari is just like John Calipari, and more Big Blue Links

Kentucky coach John Calipari, right, and his son Brad laugh together during an open practice at the Final Four in 2014.
Kentucky coach John Calipari, right, and his son Brad laugh together during an open practice at the Final Four in 2014. Lexington Herald-Leader

Big Blue Links for Friday:

Kentucky football enters fall camp with more questions than answers. Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader writes, “Linebackers: There are serious question marks at both the inside and outside positions. Inside, not a single player on the depth chart has started a game in his career. Behind transfer Courtney Love at middle linebacker is Nico Firios, who has been hampered by injuries, and true freshman Kash Daniel. UK lost seven of its top eight tacklers from last season, and three of the top five were inside linebackers.”

Craig Yeast gets some things off his chest. “Look, I love Kentucky, always have, always will,” Craig Yeast told the H-L’s Mark Story. “I’m for Kentucky in everything. Football. Basketball. Baseball. Softball. Soccer. If the Cats are on TV, I’m watching. But Russ Yeast is not Craig Yeast. And he decided Kentucky was not the best place for him.”

With Brad Calipari, it’s like father, like son. “I’m always in the gym, just like my dad was when he was younger,” Brad told Metz Camfield of CoachCal.com. “Whether it’s running and conditioning, shooting, ball-handling, that type of stuff. Out there in Memorial (Coliseum) they have ramps that I’ll run up. I’ve run them as late as 1 in the morning. I’ve been in the gym until 2, 3, 4 o’clock in the morning some nights. … When I sneak out I’m not sneaking out to go to a party or someone else’s house, it’s usually to come here.”

Three UK players on Chad Ford’s first mock NBA draft for 2017. He writes for ESPN, “9. De’Aaron Fox . Given how strong Kentucky’s incoming class is, it’s hard to believe they don’t have a prospect ranked in the top five. It just goes to show you how strong this incoming class is. Fox has the best chance of getting there.”

Louisville basketball lands a five-star basketball recruit. Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader reports, “The University of Louisville landed its first basketball commitment for the class of 2017 on Thursday. Malik Williams — a 6-foot-11 post player from Fort Wayne, Ind. — announced his commitment to the Cardinals, who had made the top-50 prospect one of their biggest priorities for next year’s class. Coach Rick Pitino was a regular for Williams’ games on the summer circuit, and the player visited U of L earlier this week. “

Mark Stoops’ education includes making the most of his emotion

Five questions Kentucky football must answer. Rick Bozich of WDRB writes, “2. Where’s the rush? The Wildcats ranked 12th in the SEC in rushing defense, allowing more than 196 yards per game. They were also 12th in total defense at more than 394 yards per game. That won’t win games, especially with an offense that can’t throw the football. “

Alabama transfer saga debate rages on. Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News writes, “There are times when Nick Saban addresses the media curtly because, frankly, he is tired of the media. Thursday wasn’t really one of those times. When Saban, addressing the press on the first day of Alabama’s 2016 fall practice, gave a short statement about the transfer issue involving former Crimson Tide defensive back Maurice Smith and his desire to attend Georgia and backed it up with a ‘not going to talk about it any more edict, he didn’t mean his words just for the reporters. He wanted them to carry beyond the room.

Jalen Hurd’s off-season speed work is paying off. Dustin Dopirak of the Knoxville News-Sentinel reports, “The Tennessee football coach was equal parts impressed and worried. The junior running back Hurd had someone record him jumping on to a treadmill moving at 23.1 miles per hour and sprinting for about eight seconds, which is both awe-inspiring and dangerous. Hurd was working with professional trainers, but he was training outside of the Tennessee program, so Jones didn’t have any ability to monitor the player who is arguably the most important to the fate of his offense.”

Short term may be bleak, but there’s long-term optimism at South Carolina. Bob Gillespie of The State writes, “If you’re Will Muschamp, South Carolina’s first-year football coach, and a guy known nationally as Mr. College Football shows up for your preseason media day – uh, is that a good thing or a bad thing? Relax, USC fans. It simply means the 2016 season is upon us, and Tony Barnhart is doing what he always does this time of year: covering the Southeastern Conference – as the slogan for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, his former employer, used to proclaim – ‘like the dew.’”

Gus Malzahn is done talking about Jovon Robinson. Mike Niziolek of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports, “Auburn coach Gus Malzahn wasn’t in the mood Thursday to revisit his decision to kick Jovon Robinson off the team. When Malzahn announced the news, he declined to offer any explanation for the sudden personnel move.”

Nick Chubb says he’s doing everything he used to do. Jason Butt of the Macon Telegraph reports, “The nearly seven-minute feature aired in February, which was a long six months ago. Time has passed, with Georgia’s season opener against North Carolina only one month away. As Chubb runs, cuts, blocks and thuds in practice, the more likely it would seem it is that he’ll be ready to go. But Chubb isn’t guaranteed a Week 1 return just yet.”

Jim McElwain eyes an improved offense at Florida. Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald reports, “University of Florida coach Jim McElwain’s mantra last year was 15 opportunities, the notion that the Gators were going to be national title contenders in his first season at UF. They came close, winning the SEC East before falling flat down the stretch with three consecutive losses by a combined score of 97-29.”

Alex Ross isn’t looking to save Missouri’s running game. Tod Palmer of the Kansas City star reports, “Don’t ask Oklahoma graduate-student transfer Alex Ross to be the savior for Missouri’s moribund rushing attack. The Tigers ranked near the Football Bowl Subdivision cellar last season in average rushing yards, yards per carry and rushing touchdowns.”

USA Today coaches’ college football poll

  • 1. Alabama
  • 2. Clemson
  • 3. Oklahoma
  • 4. Florida State
  • 5. Ohio State
  • 6. LSU
  • 7. Stanford
  • 8. Michigan
  • 9. Notre Dame
  • 10. Tennessee
  • 11. Michigan State
  • 12. Ole Miss
  • 13. Houston
  • 14. TCU
  • 15. Iowa
  • 16. Georgia
  • 17. USC
  • 18. Washington
  • 19. Oklahoma State
  • 20. North Carolina
  • 21. Baylor
  • 22. Oregon
  • 23. Louisville
  • 24. UCLA
  • 25. Florida
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