The more time that passes and the more rumblings you hear, the better chance Travis Ford has at becoming the next basketball coach at Kentucky.
After UK fired Billy Gillispie two days ago, the top candidate was believed to be Florida’s Billy Donovan, as was the case two years ago when Gillispie eventually was hired.
Donovan immediately said he was staying in Gainesville. His former assistant Anthony Grant, the head coach at Virginia Commonwealth, quickly accepted an offer to become new head coach at Alabama. Had Donovan left for Kentucky, Grant was ready to replace him at Florida.
Memphis coach John Calipari, fresh off a season-ending loss to Missouri that same day, returned to Memphis on Friday morning and said he was where he wanted to be.
The prospect of Rick Pitino, now at Louisville, returning to coach at Kentucky never has gained much steam from either side. Pitino went as far as to endorse Ford and Arkansas coach John Pelphrey, both former Kentucky players, for the UK head coaching job.
More than one reporter from the SEC region has said Kentucky is looking to hire someone from within the UK family. “They’re looking for someone who gets it,” said one reporter. “They’re looking for someone who understands what Kentucky basketball is all about.”
That would be Ford and Pelphrey.
11 a.m. - Texas Tech at Texas A&M (FSN): Arguably the worst team in the Big 12 plays the most overrated team in the Big 12.
11 - Georgia Tech at Clemson (ESPN): The Tigers are at home, but they are also in turmoil.
11 - Purdue at Northwestern (ESPN2): Boilermakers not what they used to be; neither are the Wildcats.
11 - Connecticut at Rutgers (ESPNU): A 5-1 team takes on a 1-5 team in the Big little East.
11:30 - Vanderbilt at Georgia (KSBI-52): Commodores try to bounce back after first loss. Georgia still unimpressive.
11:30 - Nebraska at Iowa State (Versus): Cyclones try to stake their claim as the worst team in the Big 12.
2 p.m. - Baylor at Oklahoma State (KXXY-FM 96.1): No TV, as usual. Cowboys better not look ahead to Texas.
2:30 - Mississippi at Alabama (KWTV-9): Rebels won at Florida. Can they win in Tuscaloosa?
2:30 - Kansas at Oklahoma (KOCO-5): Sooners try to bounce back against the well-disciplined Jayhawks.
2:30 - Ohio State at Michigan State (ESPN2): Upset alert. The Buckeyes still looking for answers on offense.
2:30 - USC at Washington State (FSN): The Trojans are 43-points favorites on the road. Then again, remember Stanford? 2:30 - Miami at Duke (ESPNU): Duke should win this game. My gosh, what’s happened to college football?
3:30 - Michigan at Penn State (ESPN): Penn State is really good, and Michigan is really not.
6 - Kansas State at Colorado (FSN): Buffs playing musical chairs with its offensive line, which is never a good thing.
6 - Oregon State at Washington (Versus): Huskies still looking for their first victory.
6 - Arkansas at Kentucky (ESPNU): After shocking Auburn, Razorbacks looking for their second straight win.
7 - LSU at South Carolina: (ESPN): Upset special. Defending national champions could lose for second straight week.
7 - Missouri at Texas (KOCO-5): The last time the Tigers won in Austin was 1896.
7 - Virginia Tech at Boston College (ESPN2): Hokies are not whatthey once were, but they’re still in first place.
7 - UTEP at Tulsa (KRMG-AM 740): No TV, as usual. Win today and the Golden Hurricane could crack the Top 25.
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
3:30 – Boston at Tampa Bay (TBS): Rays head to their first World Series.
Oak Tree touring pro Scott Verplank is as intense as golfers come, but he also has a wonderful sense of humor.
Verplank is one of the best interviews on tour, and proved it again Wednesday during his pre-tournament interview session at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship at Las Colinas, where he plays this week as the defending champion.
Here are some excerpts:
Q. You had an interesting Pro-Am round today?
VERPLANK: Yeah, it was great. We had a great time. (Dallas Cowboys quarterback) Tony (Romo) is a pretty good player, you know?
Q: Who all did you play with?
VERPLANK: Tony Romo and Kyle, one of the BentleyForbes people, and then EDS and someone from American Airlines, but Romo obviously was the big man on campus. We made sure he always got to sign all the autographs. He kept trying to sneak out. No, he didn’t really.
We had a great time, actually. He was a very nice guy. I had never met him. I knew who he was and watched him and all that. But he’s a good player. Obviously when he’s not playing football, he spends a little bit of time playing golf, which is probably good. Better than doing some of the other things a lot of those guys do (laughing).
Q: Who hits it farther?
VERPLANK: You know what, he probably hits it just barely farther than me. He smoked it out there a couple times, but then a couple times I went ahead and hit one — with these fairways I can get it out there okay, and he was kind of looking at me funny. Hey, I’m a professional, man.
Q. You beat him by a shot on the front?
VERPLANK: Yeah, he played good. He wanted to play me. I shot 3-under on the front and he shot 2, and then came — he had to fire his caddie (laughter). His game fell apart once he fired his caddie, and then he actually went through two or three other caddies. We both got a little tired. These rounds drag out over five hours plus, it’s a little hard to be in the deal mentally all that time. But he played good. I was impressed with him. If I’m around and he wants to play again, I’ll go and play with him. He won’t hold me up too much.
Q. When you say he wanted to play –
VERPLANK: Apparently he likes to always test himself when he’s playing, so he wanted to play me for money or whatever. I warned him against it, but we had a good time, put it that way.
Q. Can you tell us what the wager was?
VERPLANK: No, because that’s illegal. That’s illegal here at Bushwood. Gambling is illegal at Bushwood, sir. I will say he didn’t pay off, OK? Put it that way. But I did get — I got all his pertinent information, so I’ll get it.
Q. Have you ridden the motorcycle (presented to the winner)?
VERPLANK: Yeah, one time, burned my leg on it. The very first time I hopped on it, I burned my leg. I went, well, that’s the end of my motorcycle career. But it’s a pretty cool trophy, I can tell you that. But it’s not real — I’m not a motorcycle rider.
Q. So it is now just a trophy?
VERPLANK: It is a trophy, yeah. It’s got a beautiful spot in one of my garages, and it’s all taken care of, get it cleaned up all the time. It’s a pretty cool deal.
Q. Speaking of that, who wants to win more this week, you or your caddie?
VERPLANK: Well, I don’t know, I would think me, but I would think that they would probably have some extra incentive. You might see a caddie choking on the last hole. If a caddie passes out walking up the last hole, it may be that car over there on the left (laughter).
We almost made it to November before East Coast bias reared its ugly head in the Heisman Trophy race.
Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan played terrific for five whole minutes last Thursday night at Virginia Tech, which evidently was more than enough to propel him as the Heisman’s head man in the eyes of many back east.
That’s a complete overreaction.
Far as I’m concerned, the race remains wide open with my new leader being Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon.
Yes, Ryan is on my list. So are Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman, Michigan running back Mike Hart, Oregon running back Jonathan Stewart, West Virginia quarterback Patrick White, Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson, Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm and Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree.
With an impressive month, Oklahoma freshman quarterback Sam Bradford and Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel might hit my radar, too.
If Ryan remains steadily unspectacular, look for a continued push from some influential easterners.
But the farther east they lean, the farther west I’m tempted to look.