Do you know something that has really bugged University of Kentucky football players down through the years?
Basketball and locations of seats for former football players.
Most of those things are the responsibility of Athletic Department leaders prior to the current administration.
But the current people who make major decisions for Big Blue policies are catching up fast.
When you go to Rupp Arena, where are the banners for great basketball players of UK’s glorious past?
Up near the ceiling, waving majestically. You can’t miss them. Hagan, Ramsey, Beard. Groza. Nash. Wah Wah and on and on.
A couple of years after Commonwealth Stadium was built UK started saluting football greats with their names on the concrete between the upper and lower decks. You couldn’t miss them and fans and former players liked to point out names and tell of their exploits.
UK’s Ring of Honor is now covered by something called electronic ribbons Now if you want to see them, good luck. They are on flags flying around the stadium.
Bob Bennett, who was a tough guard for Paul “Bear” Bryant at UK, was astonished when he went to the U of L-UK game.
“Gone were the names of Bob Gain, Babe Parilli, Coach Bryant, George Blanda, Lou Michaels and other of our great players (from the Ring of Honor).” said Bennett, who was calling from his home in Virginia.
“How can Mr. Barnhart decide those names should be taken down?”
Bob, those names mean nothing to Barnhart. He does as he pleases. That’s all I can tell you. Well, that’s not exactly right. I agree with every word you said. Apparently he has the new president under his thumb the same way he snowed Lee Todd.
While football players were sweating and pounding on each other in this summer’s gosh-awful heat, little attention was paid to football. Instead, basketball (what else?) was stealing the headlines and the lead on television sports programs. Yes, I’m talking about John Calipari’s exhibition basketball games involving his Dominican team and ex-UK and U of L players. More than 40,000 basketball fans saw the two games in Rupp Arena and in Louisville in U of L’s Yum! Arena.
Akers and Minniefield
During the first week of the current National Football League season, two of the pro greats (past and present) from Lexington were making UK fans squirm.
Frank Minniefield, a long-time member of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees, was elected the new chairman.
David Akers kicked four field goals and three extra points to lead Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers over Seattle 33-17.
Minniefield starred for Henry Clay High School in Lexington. Akers was a standout for another Lexington school, Tates Creek.
Tates Creek is less than a mile from Commonwealth Stadium. Henry Clay isn’t too far from the UK campus.
Neither was recruited by the University of Kentucky. Numerous other Lexington players were bypassed by Wildcat coaches. A top Bryan Stadium player also was bypassed and he, too, went to U of L, where he was a star. A Bryan Station coach told me that no UK recruiter had been on the campus to speak with Eric Shelton. Remember him?
Minniefield always has been smarter than the average bear. When he was bypassed at first by the NFL, he hooked up with a new pro league that didn’t play at the same time as the NFL. He did so well that the Cleveland Browns grabbed him and he enjoyed nine productive seasons with the Browns.
He now lives in Georgetown and owns a company that supplies parts for the giant Toyota plant in Georgetown.
Minniefield led some other NFL alumni in starting the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame. The annual induction banquets are popular with fans.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Earl Cox, Sports Columnist
Earl doesn¹t just write about sports legends, he counts many of them as his
friends. A member of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame, he has been writing
about sports for 60 years. Incidentally, that¹s about how long it’s been
since he¹s cleaned his desk but he knows where everything is.