Is Kragthorpe Almost To End Zone?

Posted: October 21st, 2009 | Filed under: Personalities, Sports | 4 Comments »

kragimagesThe purpose here is to discuss Steve Kragthorpe.

More exactly, Steve Kragthorpe’s situation and the downward momentum of his career at Louisville: how he replaced Bobby Petrino, how the team was immediately less good, how the fans became disgruntled, how that disenchantment has escalated to cacophony, and how those fans want him gone — yesterday, if not sooner.

But first to Susan Boyle.

You remember her, right? She was all the rage as a singing sensation on one of those British who-is-going-to-be-the-next-superstar shows. One day, nobody had ever heard of the frumpy housefrau with the amazing voice. The next day, millions were viewing a video of her stunning debut on the Web.

How long ago was that? Weeks? Months? Last year?

Then she showed up soon enough with a makeover and a record contract, at which point all those instant fans abandoned their adulation and moved on.

Within a time frame most accurately measured in hours or days, they went veni, vidi, relici. With apologies to Plutarch, they came, they saw, they moved on.

Which is when I coined the term, “Boyle point.” It’s the instant in this accelerated cybergalactic age when our latest fascination becomes what was once called “yesterday’s papers,” the moment when we’ve mouse-clicked to the next diversion, the moment when the rage’s upward arc heads south.

So, as U of L’s football season trudges inexorably to ignominy, the fascination has moved from the field to the three-ring circus that is the discussion of Kragthorpe’s future in Louisville, and who his successor might be.

And in this saga, there have been too many Boyle points to compute. Read the rest of this entry »


Why I’m Rooting For Southern Miss Hoops

Posted: September 16th, 2009 | Filed under: Culture, Ruminations, Sports | No Comments »

whiskeyLarry Eustachy is now the hoops coach at Southern Mississippi.

A little over a half decade ago, when he was at Iowa State, he was legitimately in the conversation about the next great hoops coach. He was already a member of the Party Boy Hall of Fame. He was hangin’ with Betty Coed. And all her sorority sisters. Always with a drink in hand.

Larry Eustachy lost his job. And found a life.

To salvage his career, Eustachy entered treatment for the deadly disease which with he is afflicted. Alcoholism. Six years later, Eustachy remains sober, and, reading between the lines of his interview with Parrish, is an active daily participant in a 12 Step recovery process.

The purpose of Gary Parrish’s interview was to provide perspective on the Billy Clyde Gillispie situation. Gillispie, recently arrested in rural Kentucky for DUI, has entered John Lucas’s rehab facility in Houston. Eustachy publicly expressed his support and willingness to share his experiences, hoping to give strength and resolve to Gillispie to stay the course.

You can read Parrish’s award worthy column here.

In the interview, Eustachy correctly parallels the diseases of alcoholism and cancer. He knew it would bring out the scoffers. Which it did. Parrish wrote a follow up column about the comments he received. It’s linked in the first story, or you can get to it here.

I’ve often said reiterated that I don’t comment at this venue on the personal lives of the sports personalities I cover, the men and women who are important to folks here in Kentuckiana. And I certainly gave Gillispie way more than my allotment of shit over his behavior while he was UK coach.

But this is no time for silence.

Of all the diseases from which people suffer, alcoholism and drug addiction might be the most misunderstood. Comments online and on the street about Gillispie’s situation indicate that.

So it is. And so it shall probably remain.

Such a pity.

I now pray for Billy Gillispie as well as for alcoholics and drug addicts who still suffer and patients battling cancer as I have during the course of my recoveries from those equally debilitating diseases.

I don’t in any way mean to condone some of Gillispie’s well chronicled life mistakes while at UK, and elsewhere for that matter. But I do understand that he has the opportunity, if he gets and stays sober, to avoid such gaffes in the future.

I hope he makes it.

And I hope Larry Eustachy’s Southern Miss Golden Eagles make it to the dance. But know that, at least for today, he’ll be okay if they don’t.


Louisville Preps For Hail Mary Season

Posted: September 2nd, 2009 | Filed under: Sports | 2 Comments »

LfootballOh what a night it was: Nov. 2, 2006.

Cardinal fans frolicked out of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in a state of such ecstasy, many smiled tolerantly at the brewski-overloaded nabobs pissing in the bushes.

Maybe Howard Schnellenberger’s bluster was indeed more than boast. U of L had just sent the third-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers hightailing it back to Morgantown with wet powder and a jammed musket.

As pigskin planet’s population watched on prime-time Thursday, the Cards’ future route appeared in the headlights’ beams. That collision course with a national title jumped in front of Louisville like a deer on River Road.

Louisville 44, West Virginia 34.

A week later U of L’s hopes were roadkill. The Cards blew a 25-7 lead and lost to Rutgers. Instead of vying for a national title, they landed in the Orange Bowl, registering a tepid win over Wake Forest. Supercoach Bobby Petrino jumped to the pros.

Louisville hasn’t been a blip on the national radar since. Read the rest of this entry »


Time Tops Tom Watson

Posted: July 20th, 2009 | Filed under: Personalities, Ruminations, Sports | 1 Comment »

runDamn you, Tom Watson.

There you stood, nine feet away from eliminating every ache and pain in my rapidly aging body. You knock that putt in and I’d be able to put on my Brooks Beasts and run pain free, my pulled hammy miraculously healed. I could jump on my Trek and tackle those hills in Cherokee Park without having to click to the lowest gear. At Hogan’s Fountain, I’d still have breath. I’d arise in the morning and not have to stretch first thing before being able to trundle to take care of business in the bathroom.

You wrinkled ol’ linkster, if you had sunk that baby and won the British Open, it would be a whole new ballgame for every one of us old farts losing the smackdown with our dotage. We’d be able to get out of our recliners without having to push up with our arms.

I’d have sat down this morning at my Young Chang upright and both hands would have worked together like their supposed to, chords with the left, melody with the right in harmonious, seamless symmetry. 12/8 time would ring like 12/8 time. “Blueberry Hill” would actually sound like Fats Domino, not “What’s that song he’s playing?”

But no, Tom, bless your heart, you acted your age, our age. You were attacked by the yips and short stroked a chance at immortality.

So it’s Monday Blue Monday just like last week and next and life, as it inexorably does, is once again inching forward to its inevitable conclusion.

If nothing else, Tom Watson, your flirtation with the unthinkable underscored one of the absolutes. Don’t wager with time. Time always wins. The under always prevails.

Ask Lance Armstrong, as defiant an SOB as ever laced ’em up for competition. On the same day, Tom Watson failed in his attempt to send the Father Time packing, the greatest cyclist ever fell prey to the same delusion on the climb to Verbier, a challenge he would have swallowed whole and spit out with disdain a half decade ago.

You know those lyrics to that song, the one the Stones stole from Irma Thomas?

Time is on my side, Yes it is.

Great song. But wrong.

There is an arc to our physicality. We can cheat it by staying in shape, eating right, finding the balance with the cosmos. But we shall succumb. There is no winning argument against it.

Which isn’t to say we don’t hold our heads up high when we try. Tom Watson did. Lance Armstrong kinda did. (He’s a cranky ol’ boy, that one.)

So can we. I attacked those inclines in the park today. Breathed hard at the top of Golf Course Hill, but breathed nonetheless. Made it all the way in a higher gear too.

I thank Tom Watson for the elixir, the impetus to rejuvenate.

Now I’m going to practice piano.


Boyle Point: The Arc of Celebrity

Posted: June 1st, 2009 | Filed under: Cinema, Culture, Ruminations, Sports | No Comments »

How long ago was it that we first heard of TV/ singing phenom Susan Boyle?

Fifteen minutes? Twenty at most.

The video of her initial appearance on “Britain’s Got Talent” had over 200 million hits on the internet.

Her popularity was multifaceted. She could — and still can — really sing. Great Broadway voice. Big. Impressive. Affecting.

And she was Everywoman. Ordinary looks. Ordinary clothes. A shade zaftig. Hard scrabble upbringing. Those play big most everywhere, especially in the British Isles where proletarian has always been a popular character trait.

Even Simon Whatisname was smitten. (Unless, of course, that was show biz. He does own that TV franchise where she was a contestant.)

Then she went Madonna. Sort of. Did kind of a makeover without the calculation and acmen.

Star ascends. Star descends.

I remember thinking when she first blasted into our conciousness how she was the perfect metaphor for our instantaneous cybergalactic age. One day she’s nobody. Next day her name is on the lips of everybody in every Starbucks  — even the one in Sevilla across the street from Europe’s oldest gothic cathedral.

Now I believe her career arc has become the new celebrity paradigm. She lost that talent show and her incredible popularity, because, well, because, hey, Susan Boyle was sooooooooooo an hour ago. And we tired of her fame, fleeting as it seems to have been. She lost to a group of dancers named, uh, what is their name, uh, Diversity, that’s right.

So Susan Boyle’s career arc lasted, okay more than twenty minutes, but not much more than a month.

Welcome to the age of what have you got new for me this very minute?

And, so, henceforth, I shall refer to that point when a new fad, phase, trend, celeb crests in celebrity and commences its rapid plummet as the Boyle Point.

Look for her next week on VH1’s latest “Where Are They Now?” special. That old footage should be really neat to see.

— c d k


JazzFest at 40 — Sweet as Ever

Posted: May 1st, 2009 | Filed under: Cinema, Community, Culture, Music, Ruminations, Sports, TV | 6 Comments »

Revised 5/02/09 11:20 a.m.

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is now forty years on, and grooving as strong as ever. As we do, my krewe and I made it down for opening weekend. It was my 23d JazzFest, including 21 of the last 22. (For a primer on JazzFest and Quint Davis, the festival’s long-time major domo, you can read this article from the New Orleans newspaper.

It is a rite of spring. It is, as somebody far more poetic than myself once articulated, “the gravitational pull of my year.”

The first two albums I ever owned were recorded in New Orleans. “Here’s Little Richard” and a Fats Domino album, the title of which I’ve long forgotten. Fats and I share a birthday. There is something about the music of this town, and the city itself, flawed and fantastic, that cut through to my soul. I’d explain further, but I simply cannot.

JazzFest is my favorite thing to do.

What follows are some moments from this year’s festival. Read the rest of this entry »


The Cardinal Men — One Last Look

Posted: April 1st, 2009 | Filed under: Sports | 1 Comment »

Kerthunk! Splat! Thud!

This is the way the season ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.

Thirty one Ws. Six losses. That’s a campaign to savor.

But this last stunner of a defeat feels like a karate kick to the solar plexus.

The question is whether we should have seen this coming? A loss to a team the Cardinal Nation considered inferior, preventing U of L from advancing to the Final Four as the NCAA’s top seeded squad. A numbing defeat to a lower seeded team that was plundered in its conference tourney, was nip and tuck to beat woeful IU late in the season and lost at home to perennial nonentity Northwestern for heavens’ sakes.

Know this. Tom Izzo wins these games. His street-bully tough Michigan State Spartans had Louisville reeling and measured the entire tilt. Louisville flinched, didn’t fight back and lost going away 64-52. Read the rest of this entry »


Siena Succumbs, Cards Advance

Posted: March 25th, 2009 | Filed under: Sports | 2 Comments »

Now they’re even.

Louisville and Siena, that is.

The Cardinals narrowly escaped, 79-72, advancing to the Sweet 16. (Thanks to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association which owns that trademarked term. It kindly granting the NCAA permission to use it.)

And there’s some history working here. The win evens the all-time series between these disparate schools at one apiece. There’s an interesting tale to all that. As if you hadn’t already guessed. Here it comes: Read the rest of this entry »


NCAA Tourney Quiz Answers

Posted: March 24th, 2009 | Filed under: Sports | No Comments »

1 – A school has won two national championships, each with a coach making his only Final Four appearance. Name the school, the coaches and the years?

North Carolina State. Norm Sloan in 1974. Jim Valvano in 1983.

2 – Three coaches have won a national title in their first year coaching at a school. Name them, the schools and the years they won?

Ed Jucker, Cincinnati, 1961. Steve Fisher, Michigan, 1989. Tubby Smith, UK, 1998.

3 – U of L has made 8 appearances in the Final Four. How many Cardinals have seen action in Final Four games? You didn’t think I was going to toss you all softballs, did you? Feel free to guess.

69.

4 – Have two teams from the same state ever played in the title game? If so, name the state, the teams, the years and the winners?

Twice. Same teams. Same state. Cincy and Ohio State, 1961 and 1962.

5 – What school in this year’s tournament won the very first NCAA tourney game?

Villanova.

6 – In three different seasons, more than one school entered the tournament undefeated. Name the years and the teams?

1968: Houston & St. Bonaventure. 1971: Marquette & Penn. 1976: IU & Rutgers.

7 – Name the three arenas that have hosted more than five national title games?

Freedom Hall, Madison Square Garden, Municipal Auditorium (Kansas City).

8 – What freshman scored the most points in a title game? Name him, his team, the year and the number of points?

Toby Baily, UCLA, 26 in 1995.

9 – What player attempted the most field goals in a title game? How many? The year?

Purdue’s Rick Mount against UCLA, 1969. 36 FG attempts.

10 – Name the four teams seeded #1 in the first year the NCAA seeded teams. What year?

1979. North Carolina, Notre Dame, Indiana State, UCLA. (Winner Michigan State was a 2 seed.)

— Seedy K


Not the I’m Superstitious . . .

Posted: March 22nd, 2009 | Filed under: Sports | No Comments »

. . . or anything.

But . . . I got to the UD Arena and realized I was wearing a green shirt. Not exactly Siena green, but green nonetheless.

So . . . I changed to another color.

Red, in fact. Not Cardinal red, but red nonetheless.

I’ve never been one to wear my favorite school’s colors. Even during all important NCAA games. I am secure enough in my loyalty that it has always seem gratuitous. In my case at least. I love seeing lots of red, and my heart swells, like when I was just out in the parking lot — changing my shirt, you know — and I saw all the U of L fans arriving.

But . . . a red shirt was all that I had that was clean.

It’s not quite the same red as the red of the watch I have taken to wearing during Cards’ tilts this season. And it’s a different red than the red of my u-trou.

Okay, enough info.

Go Cards.

— Seedy K


The Mother of all NCAA Tourney Trivia Quizes

Posted: March 21st, 2009 | Filed under: Sports | No Comments »

1 – A school has won two national championships, each with a coach making his only Final Four appearance. Name the school, the coaches and the years?

2 – Three coaches have won a national title in their first year coaching at a school. Name them, the schools and the years they won?

3 – U of L has made 8 appearances in the Final Four. How many Cardinals have seen action in Final Four games? You didn’t think I was going to toss you all softballs, did you? Feel free to guess.

4 – Have two teams from the same state ever played in the title game? If so, name the state, the teams, the years and the winners?

5 – What school in this year’s tournament won the very first NCAA tourney game?

6 – In three different seasons, more than one school entered the tournament undefeated. Name the years and the teams?

7 – Name the three arenas that have hosted more than five national title games?

8 – What freshman scored the most points in a title game? Name him, his team, the year and the number of points?

9 – What player attempted the most field goals in a title game? How many? The year?

10 – Name the four teams seeded #1 in the first year the NCAA seeded teams. What year?

If you are bold enough, feel free to file your answers as a Comment. If you wish for your guesses to remain private, so be it. Come back soon for the answers.

— Seedy K


Tomorrow is Another Day

Posted: March 21st, 2009 | Filed under: Sports | No Comments »

Geez.

Western ties the game against Gonzaga with seconds to go. Gonzaga inbounds. Demetri Goodson charges the length of the court against the porous Toppers and lays one in for the W. Topper coach Ken McDonald tries to call timeout when they get it back with .9 seconds on the clock, but the officials don’t see him. That’s not where they lose the game.

The saddest part is that Western loses it at the free throw line. They hit 12-26 from beyond the arc, a glossy 46%. From the charity stripe, an awful 5-14. That’s 35%. That’s what loses games. That’s what loses this game.

There’s a lesson to be learned here.

Then Duke scores the last five points after Texas comes back to tie their encounter with 1:36 to play. The Black Hats win 74-69. One time, Rick Barnes, one time.

Is there a worse way to end the first Saturday of the Big Dance?

Well, yes, there is.

To ease the pain, I grab a few bucks, my hotel room entry card and head out to get some chocolate in the snack shop to ease the pain before going to sleep. When I open the door of my room, I’m hit by an odor so noxious, you’d think the City of Dayton decided to move its sewage treatment facility to the hallway outside my hotel room.

So if Maintenance can’t abate it in the next few minutes, I’ll have to change rooms. And won’t that be fun.

I know, all God’s chillun got problems.

Coming Soon: The Mother of all NCAA Trivia Quizes.

— Seedy K