Screwy idea or a fan pleaser?

| January 6, 2011

Happy New Year!

And may you keep your health. Fun and games are important but no match for healthy bodies.

Let’s play two!

Ernie Banks, the Chicago Cubs’ shortstop, so loved baseball that he became famous for saying, “Let’s play two!” Today’s players would demand double pay before they would agree to play two games in one day.

The last time I was at Wrigley Field, there was a commotion behind third base. Usually that means a fight involving several people, but not this time. The most popular of all the Cubs had just arrived at the park and was trying to get to his seat, but fans swarmed around him trying to get his autograph.

Baseball needs more fan-friendly players like Ernie Banks.

Two too many?

This may be too much to hope for, but here’s an idea that will help the finances of both the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.

Instead of both of our major schools playing both basketball and football games that their fans do not want to see, here’s an idea that’s too good to pass up.

Instead of scheduling early-season “bunny” games, why don’t U of L and UK play each other twice each season in both major sports?

The Cardinals and Wildcats could open their season in both sports against each other and find other dates to play again during the season.

It would be just one fewer meaningless game for both the Cats and Cards in both,  sports.

If you are a U of L fan, wouldn’t you rather see another game with UK instead of Arkansas State,,  EKU or Memphis?

If you bleed Blue, wouldn’t a repeat game with U of L be more attractive to you than Akron or Charleston Southern or even WKU? Did you even know that there was a Charleston Southern? I didn’t. UK literally couldn’t give tickets away for that one!

The historically black colleges are having a hard time getting top players the way they did when Eddie Robinson was sending all those great Grambling players to the NFL. But Grambling (and several of the black schools around the South) have attractions that most college fans have never seen. Yes,,  I’m talking about those great bands. U of L fans fondly,  remember when Grambling played at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium because of the its outstanding band, not its football team. The only time U of L and Grambling have played was in 2000 when the Cards won 52-0.

Those high-stepping drum majors are worth the price of admission.

And while I’m playing athletic director, now is the best time in many years for both U of L and UK to entice Indiana to start playing again. The Hoosiers have another new coach who might see the Cardinals and Wildcats as suitable (or maybe even easy) foes.

Reason for games

It’s nice when UK plays basketball against a former Wildcat player or for ex-football star Derrick Ramsey. And when Rick Pitino and U of L help out Bellarmine University basketball, which is coached by one of Pitino’s former assistants, Scott Davenport.

Ramsey, now director of athletics for Coppin State, took home a check for $90,000 for the 91-61 whipping his team took from the Wildcats.

It could be argued that two of Ramsey’s teams may have been Kentucky’s strongest ever. Both were coached by Fran Curci in 1976 and ’77 – and they both BEAT TENNESSEE. Yes, it’s true. Two consecutive victories over the Vols! The 1976 Southeastern Conference champion Wildcats nipped the Vols 7-0 in Knoxville and the ’77 Cats did it again in,  Lexington 21-17. Art Still, an All-American, also was on the two teams that beat the Vols.

Our homeboys

Extra-point kickers only get noticed when they miss. And even David Akers didn’t get the credit he deserved when he perfectly placed an onside kick that was recovered by his Philadelphia Eagles and turned around a critical game against the New York Giants. Akers is a product of Lexington’s Tates Creek High School and the University of Louisville. UK coaches, for some reason, historically haven’t been receptive to players right under their noses.

Akers is the only Kentuckian selected for the,  Jan. 30 Pro Bowl in Honolula. Trinity product Rob Bironas, also a kicker, had a great year for the Titans and could have been selected.

Larry Conley back

It was nice to see – and hear – Larry Conley doing the UK-Coppin Sate game for FoxSouth.

It’s a shame that the Southeastern Conference didn’t pull some strings to keep Larry and Tom Hammond on SEC games. They were the most recognized – and best – face of SEC basketball. UK could have exercised some of its muscle too for two of its own. An SEC coach (I seem to remember it was LSU’s Dale Brown) defended the Conley-Hammond team when one SEC coach thought they were too pro Kentucky.

Oh, those coaches!

Coaches of all sports probably get too much credit for their smarts.

Consider:

The Denver Broncos coach ran off quarterback Jay Cutler, who has sparked the revival of the Chicago Bears.,  Cutler threw for three touchdowns to lead the Bears past the New York Jets 38-34.

Rookie quarterback Tim Tebow was lost on the bench and it took the firing of the Denver genius coach for the big kid from Florida to get a chance. Tebow ran and passed the Broncos to a 24-23 comeback,  victory over the Texans.

Remember when all those NFL scouts and some coaches said that Tebow would never be a success until he held his arm just so?

One other example (and this will be the last time I bring this up): That infamous U of L quarterback sneak that was botched kept the Cardinals out of a better bowl.

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Category: Sports

About the Author (Author Profile)

Earl Cox, Sports Columnist
502.897.8910

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.

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