The Man in Black’s birthday was yesterday, but you have to forgive me as I cant let it pass. If I were to pick the six non-family deceased individuals that I would like to have dinner with, Johnny Cash would be at the head of the table (FWIW, which is nothing, he would be joined by Bobby Kennedy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Thurgood Marshall, Gandhi and Cawood Ledford). In a day and age when nearly every song I hear on the radio makes me cringe (especially those not performed by “No Parking”), and what passes as “country music” would make Hank Williams Sr. roll over in his grave, Johnny Cash’s music is almost pure perfection to me. Sung with a unique voice that is identifiable at its first note, Cash had a career musical catalog that, unlike Michael Bolton, one does not need to lie to say is almost universally great. If I were to list my Top 50 songs of all time, Cash would have 10-15 of them and that number is rising as I dig deeper into his resevoir of classics. But what is fascinating about Cash is not just his music. He is a man that played with Elvis, walked with Billy Graham, entertained every President since Johnson, won Grammys in four decades, played for prisoners, worshiped with the most religious and cared for the most hated. He was, as U2 lead singer Bono said when he died, the “rare mix of extraordinary and ordinary.” They simply dont make them like Johnny Cash any more. On his birthday, here is a performance of a song by Bono (who would make my living dinner list) and U2 at Johnny Cash’s Memorial Tribute. The two of them recorded this song, but neither ever performed it live. This is still the only time that “The Wanderer” has ever been performed on stage and its lyrics about searching for God are both brilliant and haunting. One of my Top 10 songs and I hope you guys and gals like it.
To the news……
(1) NCAA TOURNAMENT: Making the always smooth transition from Johnny Cash’s passing to the Field of 64, the conversation continues to spread about whether the Cats will make the NCAA Tournament. Probably more than any other school in college basketball, the case for Kentucky is both fascinating and controversial. Since virtually every announcer in America wrote off Kentucky after the loss to San Diego, it is impossible for many to fathom that the Cats might actually be a tournament team. Thus you have divergent opinions….Andy Katz, a known occasional sparring partner of mine on the radio, says the Cats are most certainly in…an opinion shared by Dick Vitale. Others however, including Jay Bilas and Clark Kellogg, are almost certain they are out. And no middle ground seems to exist among any of the announcers. Regardless of their opinions (which in the end dont matter), two things are certain. First, the Cats will shoot up the RPI if they go 3-1 this week. All four teams will improve the Cats strength of schedule and they could finish with an RPI in the low 40s. Second, even though no one would believe it, if the Cats can beat Tennessee in Knoxville (a long shot for sure), they will WIN THE SEC. Yes that is correct…win the SEC and get the #1 East seed in the conference tournament. Try and keep the Cats out then my friends.
(2) PATRICK PATTERSON: Seth Davis’s name was on everyone’s lips today, as he threw into his column that his sources were hearing that Patterson was thinking about jumping to the NBA at the end of the season. Of course that led to many Cat fans’ anger and a great deal of scorn from a number of outlets. First and foremost, lets be clear about one thing….Seth Davis has no source on this that would be better than countless other sources who follow Patterson on a daily basis. No one I have spoken with, including those close to Pat, believes that he will leave at the end of the year. In fact, Patterson himself is alleged to have posted on Facebook today saying it wasnt true (as with all Facebook stuff, one has to be careful that it was actually Pat). As I posted earlier, I honestly think the Patterson are committed to Patrick being here at least two years and I have heard nothing that would change that opinion. As for now, I think folks should assume what we long ago knew….Seth Davis is simply the worst.
(3) MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: We here at Kentucky Sports Radio are not a monolithic group. We all have opinions and sometimes they diverge. Earlier today Rob Gidel gave his take that Mitch Barnhart’s decision to veto the proposed “Monday Night Football” game on ESPN between Kentucky-Louisville was a good one. I will give the opposite take. I think the Cats are mistaken not to take this grand stage on the national platform. For the first time in my lifetime, Kentucky football has a buzz that exists not just because it has a fat quarterback. People are beginning to believe that Kentucky football is for real, a fact that will multiply come draft day when multiple Cats get called up to the stage. That Monday Night Football college game (while the NFL is still waiting to get started) has, at times, been a marquee game. Miami-Florida State occupied it for a while and then Florida St-Clemson played last year. It is a game watched by literally EVERYBODY in the country and one that recruits will all see. What better way for the Cats to showcase once again that they are for real and not a one-trick pony? Unlike last year, there isnt a case to be made that playing on Saturday or Sunday gives the Cats a better chance to win….the game will occur sometime in that 48 hour period, so why not with the national spotlight? Yes it gives a short week for the next game….but the next game is NORFOLK STATE….not even a team in Appalachian State’s league. Yes there is the possibility the Cats could lose….but there is also the possibility they win and get great press and great national exposure. I am for it….but then again I always err on the side of exposure. Either way, the debate will continue to rage on.
(4) SCOTTY HOPSON: Folks if you werent in Christian County last night (and most of us were not), you apparently missed a heck of a show. For the second straight year, Scotty Hopson and UHA got a scare in the district tournament, but this year they won, pulling out an 85-81 win against Hopkinsville. Hopson was brilliant, finishing with 35 points, 28 of which he got in the second half. While much debate is raging about Bud Mackey (and yes we have thoughts to coming later in the week), the tide is starting to get more unified on Hopson. With such talent (McDonalds All American talent to be precise) and Kentucky in need of scoring next year, moving after Hopson seems to be what everyone thinks is important….including recently, me. Hopson has shown TREMENDOUS signs of growth and has matured a great deal in the past year. The Cats have ground to make up….some would say a lot of ground….but if Scotty is going to pull out performances like he did Tuesday night, he is worth the work.
More during the day, including the results of the “UK Reporters Combine”….an athletic competition with the UK press corps….who would win? We will let ya know….