Last updated: July 18. 2013 11:14PM - 79 Views
Ira D. Combs
Tri State Sports Media



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There’s only one more duck to pluck out of the sky for Cal’s Cats this Saturday when Marshall University invades Rupp Arena before the Cats return to big boy basketball for this year’s annual Battle of the Bluegrass in downtown Louisville, getting the honors once again to telecast the game nationally.


More on that special day next week.


Last Saturday’s titanic tilt with David Lipscomb University sent another bolt of lightning to the NCAA selection committee for UK’s March Madness résumé to the tune of an 88-50 victory. There were basically three highlights in this particular afternoon visit to Rupp Arena. The first was point guard Ryan Harrow’s successful return to the starting lineup with 12 points, two assists, and no turnovers in 31 minutes of play. The second was that Kyle Wiltjer’s dead-eye shooting skills reemerged from three point land, and the third and final but quite possibly the most impressive highlight of the afternoon was when new UK football coach Mark Stoops made his first appearance in front of Big Blue Nation when he made the “Y” at center court in the spelling of “Kentucky” by the UK cheerleaders in the time honored traditional cheer. He received a roaring 90-second standing ovation from the 22,000 plus spectators in attendance.


You could say that Coach Stoops has been baptized and is officially a Wildcat now.


Black eyes are surfacing in the continued realignment of NCAA


As experienced and knowledgeable as I am in my almost 60 years of age and being involved with high school and collegiate sports, I find myself once again confused and at a loss for words to explain this continuing spiral of realignment of college athletics across America.


The first thing that comes to mind is the millions of dollars being thrown around like pocket change to leave one conference affiliation and then turn around and cough up more millions to enter into a new conference.


It has been well documented the past 10 to 12 years in several reputable national sports publications that only 10 to 12 NCAA schools have been finishing in the black at the end of each school and academic calendar year. According to these same reports that started surfacing several years ago, over 80 percent of the NCAA Division 1 schools were spiraling deeper and deeper into the red each year.


With that being said, where is the money coming from for all these schools to jump around from conference to conference for greener pastures?


Are our esteemed presidents and leading college administrators speaking with that same “forked tongue” that they accused the A.D.’s and coaches of using when they said college sports was spiraling out of control with corruption, especially in the areas of recruiting and coaches’ salaries?


The second thing and possible reason for the first problem mentioned that comes to mind is that I recall in the late 90’s when the NCAA presidents were complaining that they needed to be more involved in the college athletics scene, and the final stamp of approval on any and all important matters should be from their desk and not each school’s A.D. or the head coach of each sport.


Well, be careful what you ask for guys, because this present dilemma which is far from being corrected and/or over lays squarely in your lap.


Stoops sets the table for possible 11th hour recruiting plums


New UK football coach Mark Stoops has hit the ground running the last two weeks, according to some of my contacts associated with several of the football recruiting service Internet sites.


Reportedly, Stoops and his new offensive coordinator, Neal Brown in particular, have been able to get into contact with several upper echelon three-star type recruits and a few of the plum four-star variety and convince them to take an official visit to UK in January and give them a chance to showcase UK on campus and explain to them their plan for the total program and the player individually. A couple of these new recruits were being recruited by Brown at Texas Tech and Stoops at Florida State.


Additionally, Stoops and Brown both have made visits to a couple key in-state players who are still undecided but are now showing a lot more love to UK since the arrival of Stoops and his staff. Ryan Timmons from Franklin County, a rare mega talented, all-purpose player that this state hasn’t produced in a few years is said to have been very impressed with his first visit with Stoops and Neal Brown, and beginning to lean to the Wildcats. Ohio State and Urban Meyer may be the only fly in the ointment, but it appears the Buckeyes have run out of scholarships.


As of Monday morning, Stoops was closing in on finishing his assistant coaching staff, but still needs to hire a wide receivers coach and a defensive backs coach.


Reclassification of high school basketball recruits building steam across USA


I’ve not done a whole lot of research on this topic yet, mainly because it’s just now coming on the college basketball scene here in the last year or so, but reclassification is building up some head wind across the college basketball recruiting landscape and in particular with some elite UK recruits.


Of course with UK popping up and being involved, we all know it’s a short time before our friends from up in Indianapolis at NCAA headquarters will be arriving on the scene to inquire.


On first thought, one would rationalize that the player simply is trying to get to the NBA at an even quicker rate than what the true one-and-done elite recruit has in recent years.


What I’m wondering, and this will either be validated or washed out the door when each players’ age is discovered, but I’m wondering if some of these sharp NCAA coaches (one Italian in particular) hasn’t stumbled upon a new angle of legally sabotaging the NBA mandated age rule, and is selling to this new type recruit that he can get two years of the college experience instead of one out of these special high profile lottery type recruits, yet still get to the NBA vaults at the same rate or even quicker by reclassifying.


Andre Wiggins, a 6’ 7” mega-talented forward entered last August as a junior, but has now successfully reclassified to be a senior and is set to sign with an NCAA school this coming spring. Of course he is on Cal’s radar each morning when he drives down Richmond Road to go to work at the Joe Craft Center. Karl Towns, a 6” 11’ tender-aged high school sophomore, who is presently up in a New Jersey high school and whom Cal has been involved with since he coached the Dominican Republic team, has now reclassified into the junior class and verbally committed to UK for the 2014 year.


It’s early in this new scenario, but right now standing on the outside looking in, it appears this scenario may trump the one-and-done recruit.


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