KSTV's Monday Recap: What You Missed In UK Sports

11/26/2012 10:00 AM

It was a busy day in the world of UK athletics as the quest to find a football coach continued and familiar basketball faces both returned and headed for the bench. Here’s what you missed while you were struggling through your first day back at the office…

Jones, MacIntyre And Stoops Are Either Finalists Or Not In Contention

Yep, that should just about clear it up. Monday started with an odd Twitter report from former Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge, now a radio host, saying that Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones was headed to Lexington to accept the UK job. Ainge even went as far as to say it would be announced by Tuesday. However, much like many of the balls he threw for the Vols, it ended up being inaccurate. FootballScoop.com said it was false and the Courier-Journal’s Kyle Tucker said late Monday evening that Jones told UK “no thanks”. He’s believed to be in serious contention for the Tennessee job. But I won’t believe it until Mike Hartline Tweets about it.

Monday morning also brought optimism for some that Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops may just be the man Mitch Barnhart taps to reverse UK’s fortunes. CBS reported Saturday night that Stoops already interviewed for the position – a notion Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher shot down first thing Monday morning. It’s certainly not out of the ordinary for a head coach to deny other interviews are taking place, especially during a week where his team is preparing for a conference championship game, and when UK linebacker Pancho Thomas Tweeted out “STOOPS!” Monday afternoon, it seemed like things could be looking good on that front. But these things don’t work that easily. You should know that by now. Late Monday, Kyle Tucker Tweeted that a source inside UK Athletics indicated that Stoops also told Mitch Barnhart he wasn’t interested. Hmm. I’m starting to see a trend here.

But, hey, there’s always Mike MacIntyre at San Jose State, right? He appeared to be the closest thing to a frontrunner this search has seen and fans seemed to be warming up to his reputation as a turnaround expert after flipping the Trojans from 1-11 in his first year to 10-2 this season. MacIntyre, of course, publicly said that he isn’t looking at any other jobs right now (Cal – the school, not our basketball coach – is also calling, by the way) and that he’s happy where he is. His son is in middle school and wants to graduate high school there and blah, blah, blah…lots of coachspeak. Nothing that would make you think he was out. MacIntyre was the only coach of the big four (Sonny Dykes, along with Jones and Stoops) who has not told UK that he has no interest according to Kyle Tucker, so it appears that UK may have their man. Just kidding. I just told you these things are never that easy. Weren’t you paying attention? Football Scoop followed up the Tucker report by saying they’re hearing MacIntyre is not going to take the UK job if it’s offered. Of course he’s not. Of course he’s not.

And that brings us to the big name that surprisingly surfaced late Monday night. Former University of Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer has emerged as a possibility after…I’m sorry…that’s not true. It just didn’t feel right ending this without another twist. You’re guess is as good as mine at this point.

UK Coaching Search Being Conducted From The MitchCave

KSTV buddy Larry Vaught published a pretty interesting article Monday afternoon about a meeting that occurred between Mitch Barnhart and the UK football team (you can read it here). In it, Vaught says Barnhart talked with players about his search for a new coach without actually listing any potential candidates, though he didn’t just send them a letter so that has to be worth something. The UK AD said that he hopes to have a new coach in place for them before they leave for break, which would mean a hiring before December 14.

The most interesting part of the story to me, though, is that Barnhart is conducting the search entirely from his home office, most likely to avoid any of his phone records ever being made public through a Freedom of Information request. While the thought of Barnhart in a UK snuggie, feet up on the desk, Fruit Loops spilled everywhere with reruns of Friends playing on a television behind him is amusing, retreating to the MitchCave for the entire search is probably a smart move. The perception of the UK job is that it’s a dead-end and any coach that accepts is going to have a number of mountains to climb in order to not only improve the program, but to make sure he can get another head coaching job between now and the time the Lord comes calling for him. If we’ve learned anything so far in this search – and it’s debatable as to whether we have – it’s that Mitch isn’t sitting down to play the Dating Game and simply picking whoever he’d like. This could come down to a third or fourth or fifth or, heck, even a tenth choice at this point, especially if he truly was “swinging for the fences” early. Allowing whoever the coach is to start without as much of the “we just settled” complaint from an extremely irritated fan base is one less mountain the new coach will have to conquer.

Having said that, don’t underestimate the Friends factor. I bet Mitch LOVES him some Ross.

Ryan Harrow And His New Haircut Are Happy To Be Back

After all, that’s what he said in his video interview with CoachCal.com. The sophomore guard is finally back on campus after a nearly two-week absence due to an illness and a family issue that forced him to return to North Carolina over Thanksgiving. In his interview with CoachCal.com’s Eric Lindsey, the now flat top-less Harrow said that he didn’t have mono, though he wasn’t quite sure what exactly he came down with a few weeks ago that caused him to drop seven pounds. As far as the family issue, Harrow simply said it was “personal” and that was it. And with that, the season’s greatest internet debate quietly went to bed and we can all now move on to wondering what to expect from him on the court.

I’m not sure that I’m completely sold on Harrow’s return as the cure-all for this team right now. After all, he’s two weeks behind his teammates in terms of building in-game chemistry and he didn’t seem all that comfortable in what he was doing during the exhibition stretch. Archie Goodwin filled in extremely well in his absence, nearly notching a triple-double against LIU-Brooklyn and proving to be one of the most explosive players in the country with the ball in his hands. My guess is that Calipari will still allow the offense to initate through Goodwin for a good portion of the possessions that they’re on the court together, partially because much of the offense they’ve found success with so far has been created out of letting Goodwin create for himself and teammates out of the pick-and-roll or drive-and-kick situations. Also, even during the exhibition games, Harrow often played off the ball with Goodwin playing more of a traditional point guard role, though Harrow never seemed to be fully comfortable. That doesn’t mean he’s not the point guard for this team. It just means he’s going to have to adapt to a slightly different role than he’s probably played his entire life – at least for some stretches of the game. But regardless of who initiates the offense, Harrow’s return is huge for the Cats in terms of play-making, depth and experience. He’s the player I’ll be most intrigued to watch against Notre Dame and Baylor this week.

Get Hyped For That Nerlens Noel vs. Zach Price Matchup Dec. 29

The two biggest games of this young college basketball season have been UK’s matchup with Duke in Atlanta and the Blue Devils taking on Louisville in The Bahamas, though both featured one of the teams playing without a key starter. Now, the game likely to be the biggest of the entire season, UK vs. Louisville, appears to be following that script.

UofL announced Monday that starting center Gorgui Dieng’s broken wrist will keep him out 4-6 weeks, meaning the good recovery has him back just before the rivalry game and, most likely, still recovering when the two teams meet December 29. Of course, we have to at least acknowledge that Dieng plays for Rick Pitino and that means that even if Rick says the night before that he’s out, no UK fan will believe it until he shows up courtside in loafers. That means that what could have been the most high-profile matchup of the game between Dieng and UK freshman Nerlens Noel could now be Noel, a possible top overall pick in June’s NBA Draft, and J-Town native Zach Price. All 1 point per game of him. The silver lining for Cards fans? Gorgui can cheer in six different languages.

You’ve Been Warned, Patrick Patterson

I wonder what John Calipari would say about this. Former Cat Patrick Patterson has become the fifth NBA player officially warned by the league for violating its new flopping policy after taking a phantom charge on Tyson Chandler of the New York Knicks. Should he be cited again, he will receive a $5,000 fine. Here’s the flop:

You let a guy play with Shane Battier for a year…

The Charlotte Bobcats Struggle A Bit

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist knows about being a part of historical teams. After all, last year’s Kentucky group is regarded as one of the greatest teams in the history of college basketball. On Monday night, though, Kidd-Gilchrist’s Charlotte Bobcats team, which is actually off to a very solid start this season, almost made a different kind of history against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

At one point in the third quarter, the Bobcats trailed OKC 79-25. Yes, an NBA team – a group of professional basketball players coached by a professional coach – trailed another NBA club by 54 points in the third quarter. Ultimately, the Bobcats would come back strong and only lose by 45, 114-69. The good news for MKG? His plus/minus rating was the second-best among Bobcat starters. The bad news for MKG? It was -32. Ouch. Only one way to go from here.

Be sure to check out KSTV on Tuesday as we recap all the latest news on the UK coaching search, talk with former Cat Walter McCarty about his new album “Unbreakable” and check in with Andrew Bishop at his final KSTV Tailgate Tour stop of the year.


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