Kentucky Wildcats

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Kentucky Basketball — Agony or Ecstasy

Agony or Ecstasy—By John Huang

(LEXINGTON, Ky.) — I’m staring at Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari up on the podium. He looks weathered, fatigued, and burdened, as if he’s aged a hundred years in the past six months. He jokingly calls them “dog years,” as if the time at the Kentucky helm has been somehow magnified by the overwhelming mantle of suffocating responsibility. With apologies to Sylvester Stallone, Calipari’s bruised spirit, bloodshot eyes, and furrowed brow reminds me of a bloated version of a fading Rocky Balboa. I’m transfixed by his image. I can’t stop staring at him, unable to fully grasp either the reality or the significance of what I’m seeing.


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Kentucky Football — Brawn Over Brains

Brawn Over Brains—By John Huang

NASHVILLE, Tn. — Vanderbilt University touts itself as an elite academic institution. There are a lot of smart people at Vandy with a haughtiness that’s probably rightfully deserved. With ACT scores soaring through the stratosphere, this “Harvard of the South” is pervasively known for kicking academic sand in the face of its fellow SEC brethren.


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Kentucky Basketball — Blue Poison

Blue Poison—By John Huang

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Opening night at Rupp Arena for this year’s version of the UK Basketball Wildcats was surprisingly unsettling. At halftime, Mark Pope’s Utah Valley University Wolverines led Kentucky 34-25. The young, but talented kiddie Cats looked disorganized, disjointed, and shell shocked. Despite Coach John Calipari doing all he could in the preseason to intentionally set the bar low for his squad, no one could have limboed lower than the Cat’s first half performance.


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Kentucky Football — Fans Far from Fickle

Kentucky Football Fans Far from Fickle—By John Huang

At the recent reunion for his 2006-2008 bowl-winning teams, former Kentucky football coach Rich Brooks took a direct shot at the UK fan base. “Kentucky fans are a little fickle,” he said. “They’re great, but they’re fickle. For them at 5-1 to not be happy with this team and couldn’t believe that we hadn’t blown some of these people out, it’s crazy. You’re 5-1 for god’s sakes. How many times has Kentucky been 5-1? Not very many.”


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Kentucky Football — Big Orange Shakedown

Photo by Donna Gray

Big Orange Shakedown—By John Huang

I recently reminded former UK All-SEC tight end Jacob Tamme that in his lifetime, Kentucky had only defeated Tennessee one single time in football. Think about it—for 31 out of the last 32 years, BBN has had to endure the ignominy of losing to our hated Big Orange rivals. That’s over three decades of unsurpassed pain, 31 years of bragging rights surrendered, and countless stanzas of Rocky Top shoved down our collective throats.


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Kentucky Basketball — Don’t Sweat The Alamo (just yet)!

Photo by Donna Gray

Don’t Sweat the Alamo (just yet)—By John Huang

At the beginning of this season, Kentucky Men’s Basketball coach John Calipari didn’t pull any punches. “We stink,” he said when asked to evaluate his team’s progress to date. After UK’s 103-61 exhibition victory over the Thomas More Saints, no one should really be surprised by his abject bluntness. With essentially a brand-new roster on the Rupp Arena floor, anyone expecting swagger at this point in the year just doesn’t know Coach Cal. Regardless of the lofty pundit predictions, Cal’s going to limit expectations for his fourth-ranked Wildcats. He’ll emphasize the process, talk endlessly about patience, and make quips about being the youngest team in America until he’s blue in the face. It’s up to you whether you believe he’s sandbagging or not.


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Kentucky Football — Starkville

Starkville—by John Huang

Starkville, Mississippi appears exactly as its name implies. The home to the Mississippi State University Bulldogs is rather stark, much more so than any of the other traditional small-town SEC hamlets you might encounter. There’s a Matty’s Starkvegas Café here and The Little Dooey Barbecue joint, but not much else. Supposedly Tee Ball was invented in Starkville, All-Pro wide receiver Jerry Rice calls Starkville home, and country music legend Johnny Cash was once arrested for public drunkenness and spent a night in the Starkville city jail.


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Kentucky Basketball — Mere Madness

Mere Madness—By John Huang

Every October, University of Kentucky basketball fans yearn expectantly for the spectacle known as Big Blue Madness. This past Friday night was no different. Over 20,000 screaming fans–ages eight to eighty–crammed themselves into Rupp Arena for the annual dog and pony show signaling the start of another exciting roundball season. Women’s Basketball coach Matthew Mitchell led off the night’s festivities with his customary dance moves that set the frenzied tone for the remainder of the evening. John Calipari’s annual state-of-the-union manifesto then further stoked the flames of Big Blue passion. Finally, an appearance by Drake sent the Wildcat faithful over the proverbial edge of sanity—giving the prized recruits in the audience a taste of what it’s like to be rock stars on stage in front of a fanatical basketball family.


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Kentucky Football — Positively Presidential

Positively Presidential—By John Huang

Kentucky’s 40-34 victory over Missouri was resoundingly memorable—but probably not in the way you’re thinking. Sure, Stephen Johnson was solid as usual, passing for 298 yards and 2 touchdowns. Benny Snell Jr. was also decent, rushing for 117 yards and two scores, including a career-long 71-yard jaunt in the second quarter. Unfortunately, the Wildcat secondary went MIA all evening, allowing the Tigers a whopping 568 total yards on several humongous passing plays. Despite all the drama, the Cats go to 5-1 on the year heading into their bye week, with a colossal matchup against Mississippi State in Starkville looming on the imminent horizon.


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Kentucky Football — Why I Like Mark Stoops

Why I Like Mark Stoops—By John Huang

Football is a rigorous and carnal sport, so I like my head football coaches fiery and passionate. When the chips are down, I want a leader who’s pacing the sideline, red-faced and emotional, motivating players, yelling at assistants, and arguing with refs. Show me someone calm and collected, reticent and reserved, tight lipped and poker faced, and I’ll show you a coach who looks as if he doesn’t give a damn. Give me Woody Hayes over Jim Tressel any day of the week. I’ll take an animated Pete Carroll over a stoic Bill Belichick just for the difference in energy level alone. Marvin Lewis in this day and age? No thanks! Enthusiasm, spirit, and zeal are what counts in my book.


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