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By LARRY VAUGHTÃ‚Â
The NCAA is investigating major violations at Memphis, but apparently the “major” tag belonged on the women’s golf program, not men’s basketball, based on the information the NCAA sent Memphis.
John Calipari is “not as risk” in the basketball investigation, but the NCAA wants to make sure he participates in the hearing.
Kentucky says it knew about the inquiry when it hired Calipari, but NCAA officials say they didn’t discuss NCAA investigations with UK – or anyone else.
Confused? Me, too.
However, many in the national media are not confused. Instead, they are teeing off on Calipari – and Kentucky. Never mind that Shepard Cooper, the director of the NCAA Committee on Infractions, sent Calipari a letter to “make it clear that you are not considered to be ‘at risk’ in these proceedings.”
Instead, he told Calipari he felt since he was head coach when the alleged violations occurred that he could possibly provide “helpful information” to help the committee understand the case.
As I understand it, a player is being accused of having a suspect college entrance test score that the NCAA approved before the player played at Memphis. There’s also the area of travel expenses to a player’s brother that were not reimbursed that apparently now have been or soon will be.
However, based on some national media reports, you might think Calipari had been caught taking the test and then giving out bags of money to players and recruits.
Here is part of what Orlando Sentinel staff writer Andrea Adelson wrote on OrlandoSentinel.com:
“All you Gators fans worried about John Calipari and what he is going to do at Kentucky should breathe easy today. In a few years, Kentucky could face some sort of NCAA sanction.
“That’s just the Calipari way. The two other schools he has coached at have gotten into trouble with the NCAA for rules violations that happened on Calipari’s watch.
“What is particularly outrageous in both instances is the fact that Calipari gets off unscathed, and in the Memphis case, he just ran away knowing full well what was going to happen. The NCAA sent its letter of allegations to the school in January. Calipari clearly knew the school was under NCAA investigation when Kentucky came calling.”
She went on to blast Calipari for taking the Tigers’ best recruits – DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall and Eric Bledsoe – with him to Kentucky.
She finally did concede this Calipari wasn’t named in any allegations.
Innuendo and speculation
Obviously, we all have our own opinions. Still, don’t I remember Florida coach Billy Donovan once being questioned about his ties with some high school summer all-star teams? Or North Carolina coach Roy Williams having some problems with graduation gifts given to players when he was at Kansas.
If the NCAA finds that Calipari violated NCAA rules, punish him. Who could argue with that?
However, saying he’s guilty by innuendo or speculation is just not fair and that doesn’t matter whether he’s coaching at Kentucky or Memphis.
Calipari knew the spotlight would be on him at Kentucky more than when he coached at Massachusetts or Memphis. He also coached the New Jersey Nets, but he knew also that the NBA spotlight wouldn’t match the one at UK.
However, he insisted in an interview after he was hired that outside criticism or distractions would not bother him.
“I don’t listen to talk radio. If someone gets on there and thinks they are jabbing me, I don’t listen to it. I don’t know what is on a chat room. I don’t know how to get in there. I can turn on a computer. That’s the extent of it,” he said. “You are not going to bug me in a chat room because I never see it.
“I am not going to read the local paper whether it’s good or bad. If they write the good and it pumps you up, that’s not good either. Ego – edging God out – is not good. Or when they rip you to shreds and call you the devil – and I am not the devil – I am not going to see that.
“I am a basketball coach. I go about my business and treat my players the way I want my son to be treated. I try to coach them up, make them feel good and try to recruit good players. That’s what I am about.”
So while many media members fire away at Calipari, it won’t bother him. The guess here is that it will irritate Kentucky fans, but not change their feeling for Calipari, either, unless someone does link him to wrongdoing – something that has not happened during his long coaching career.
By LARRY VAUGHTÃ‚Â
Readers seem to believe that the NCAA should have more compassion for athletes based on the response to the career-ending suspension given to Kentucky defensive end Jeremy Jarmon.
The all-Southeastern Conference performer was suspended for using a banned substance in an over the counter diet supplement he bought that showed up in a random drug test.
Here’s a sampling of what readers sent when asked how they felt about what happened to Jarmon.
*Ã‚Â David Collier of Harrodsburg, a construction purchasing administrator for Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center, was the first to respond.
“What a travesty that a quality person like Jeremy Jarmon would be walked over for a simple mistake. I doubt if any of your readers read the labels on every product they buy. I would not expect a store l to sell over-the-counter products containing substances banned by college governing bodies, especially without a warning label.
“Of course, this is the same NCAA that punishes schools and student-athletes while the coaches who caused probation situations ride off in the sunset with multi-million dollar settlements on their way to the next high dollar coaching gig, the same NCAA that turns its head when former student-athletes are caught taking bribes and illegal incentives during their one year stopover in college on the way to the NBA, the same NCAA that will take its fat-cat percentage of the athletic revenues of college athletic programs but will not allow that same university to buy a youngster a plane ticket home to a family member’s funeral.
“The NCAA is like several other organizations that have power to penalize and prosecute but regularly shows little compassion for the good people who violate some insignificant rule hidden away in the dark corner of their multi-volume rule book. I only hope that UK brings Jeremy back for recognition on senior day next year. That is the least they can do for him.”
No argument over Collier’s take on the NCAA here. And his idea to bring Jarmon back for senior day is one I hope Kentucky will consider and do, because I have to believe the UK fan base would agree it is the right thing to do.
*Ã‚Â Former Kentucky football player John McGrath of Louisville has an insightful perception about what the future could hold for Jarmon based on his own experiences at Kentucky.
“You see too many negatives in the world today and not many positives. You hate to see a young man so successful like Jeremy Jarmon be punished for an honest mistake. But he’ll learn and be a better person for his mistake.
“In 1975 I was so upset that coach Fran Curci moved me to wide receiver that I decided to leave the team. It was a bad mistake and ever since that day I’ve never given up on anything. I even wrote coach Curci a letter to apologize. He wrote back within days. I’ll be starting my eighth season in the NFL as a head linesman. This will be the first year I’m eligible for the Super Bowl. I can’t wait, and no excuses.”
That’s a great life lesson for us all and somehow I think football coaches everywhere are smiling because they always insist their sport teaches more about life than sport. McGrath is right that Jarmon will emerge from this a better person. That’s the kind of person Jarmon is.
It’s also my guess that he’ll continue to accept blame for his mistake just as McGrath did and offer no excuses for what happened.
*Ã‚Â Mick Murrell of Birmingham, Ala., respects the way UK handled the situation.
“I am so sad for Jeremy. He’s a great person. But I have to feel he knew full well the consequences of his actions. UK can’t risk the program over failure to report one athlete.”
Murrell has Kentucky football season tickets and rarely misses a home game. He’s a die-hard Kentucky fan and a Rich Brooks fan. However, his point is valid that UK had no choice but to comply with the NCAA and report the violation. He’s also right that Jarmon should have known better.
*Ã‚Â Shane Schwalbach, though, is still puzzled by the thought process that led to Jarmon’s suspension.
“There shouldn’t be a banned over the counter substance in any sport. The average person can buy and take any of these supplements, but the elite athlete who needs them isn’t allowed. How does that make any sense at all?
“There really needs to be a total restructuring in all major sports, both collegiate and professional, in this area. If these supplements are so bad for you, then the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) should shut down the GNCs of the world. They should ban these supplements from everyone. This isn’t 1950. There’s more than meat and potatoes to help you achieve your goals. This isn’t even about Jarmon. It’s much, much bigger.”
Put me in Schwalbach’s camp. I thought if a drug or supplement was legal, it would be fine to take, too. It’s still hard for me to fault Jarmon for taking something he thought was only going to help him lose weight and for trusting the person who told him it was fine to take it.
*Ã‚Â Brian Sallee of Hustonville thinks the NCAA is a bit hypocritical and really doesn’t care about student-athletes.
“The NCAA does not care about these student-athletes. It was shown again by what they did to Jeremy Jarmon. I love UK football and basketball, but I also keep up with just about every team from both sports because I watch a lot of ESPN. I have seen a lot players from all sports lose eligibility because they made a mistake. Let’s not forget everybody makes mistakes.
“Now correct me if I’m wrong, but I bet the list of banned substances is pretty long. That would make it easy to forget a substance that might be banned.
“Give Jarmon credit for coming forward and taking the blame like a real man when every other player wouldn’t dream of doing a press conference like he did. Seeing how sorry he was at the press conference and admitting his guilt, the NCAA could have reduced the suspension to show a little compassion. Then again, that is something that is rarely shown by the NCAA.”
Compassion? Logic? NCAA? Those words don’t go together. It’s fine to make a basketball team play a 9:30 p.m. weeknight game to generate TV ratings and revenue, but don’t give a kid a break for a simple mistake. That’s the power of the NCAA.
And don’t even try to find that list of banned products on one page. Based on the NCAA manual, it’s probably a separate book.
*Ã‚Â Harry Taylor of Atlanta says he’s a regular online reader and often forwards columns to relatives – I need him signed up for my Vaughtsviews Twitter account, but that’s a column for another day – and he doesn’t like what happened to Jarmon, either.
“I’m still upset about the Jeremy Jarmon career-ending suspension. I wish there was some way UK could appeal this decision to the NCAA.
“Have you read about the Penn State player Navarro Bowman? Bowman is Penn State’s outstanding, all-Big Ten linebacker. The guy gets arrested after getting in a fight for being drunk and disorderly conduct. He smoked marijuana, at least twice, failed a random drug test while on probation and does none of the 100 hours of community service he is suppose to do. Yet, Joe Paterno says he won’t miss a minute of playing time in 2009, because he had a ‘good semester academically.’”
Without throwing stones at Bowman, that’s the problem with what happened to Jarmon. If he had smoked marijuana, an illegal substance, he would not have been banned for the year. If he had been arrested for driving under the influence, he would not have been suspended for the year.
However, he buys a legal diet supplement and ends up having his collegiate playing career ended.
There’s just no way to ever make me understand it.
* * *
What do you think?
Let sports editor Larry Vaught know if NCAA investigation into the Memphis basketball program when John Calipari was coach has changed your thinking about having Calipari at Kentucky. Has the media made too much of this? Did UK do its homework before hiring Calipari?
Send your comments, name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Just when the good times were rolling at the University of Kentucky, the Kentucky athletics program has taken some big-time hits in the last week.
* Senior defensive end Jeremy Jarmon was suspended for his final season for taking a banned substance in an over-the-counter diet supplement he bought.
* The NCAA is investigating the Memphis basketball program for violations involving a suspect college entrance test score and $2,260 in free travel to road games for an associate of a player during the 2007-2008 season when John Calipari was the Memphis coach.
* Former UK coach Billy Gillispie field a lawsuit against UK in Texas asking for the full $6 million owed him under the “memorandum of understanding” he signed when he came to UK.
* Kentucky filed a counter suit in Frankfort against Gillispie.
* Star recruit John Wall pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in his hometown and was sentenced to community service.
Basketball certainly has taken the spotlight off Jarmon and his unfortunate mistake that will hurt him and the football team. However, there are far more unknowns with the basketball news.
Start with the NCAA investigation.
Calipari is not being accused of any wrongdoing – and has a letter from the NCAA saying he is not at risk of being charged – even though the NCAA wants him to attend its June hearing into the allegations. UK president Lee Todd and athletics director Mitch Barnhart insisted they had done their homework before hiring Calipari and that the NCAA had no problems with him. Calipari’s contract includes extensive clauses about penalties for violating NCAA rules.
“He (Calipari) was very open with us about what he was aware of at that particular time, and since this is an issue between the University of Memphis and the NCAA and not a UK issue, we will not be commenting further on anything related to this situation,” Todd said in a statement released by UK Thursday.
The ‘right questions’
Barnhart also issued a statement saying UK asked the “right questions” before hiring Calipari.
“Coach Calipari was forthcoming and honest about the NCAA inquiry at the University of Memphis during the interview process. John Calipari is the basketball coach at the University of Kentucky and we are extremely excited about our future at Kentucky,” Barnhart said.
“We support him fully as he participates in the NCAA hearing and we have encouraged him not to comment and I also will not comment any further.”
Is this damage control or sincerity? The guess here is sincerity. Barnhart and Todd are honorable men who believe in following the rules. They made it clear when Calipari was hired that they had done their homework and the NCAA basically gave Calipari a clean bill of health. If they believed the NCAA and Calipari then, there’s no reason for them to bail out on the new coach now.
However, the lawsuits do leave room for speculation. Kentucky made a huge blunder when it did not have Gillispie sign a formal contract before hiring him. Give Gillispie credit. He outsmarted UK.
No matter what anyone at UK says, I heard Kentucky officials many times in the last two years say they were not worried about a contract because the memorandum served as a contract.
Gillispie deserved to be fired. There’s no question here about that. However, he now deserves to be compensated for the remaining years he was scheduled to work at UK.
Kentucky needs to settle this mess and move on. Sure, it’s a lot of money to pay for a mistake. But Gillispie was not the right hire – his fault – and should have been made to sign a contract – UK’s fault.
The two sides need to settle. Gillispie could be ending any chance he has to be a major college coach again and Kentucky is certainly enduring negative publicity it doesn’t need.
Finally, there’s Wall. He apparently has taken responsibility for a mistake he made just as Jarmon did. The difference is that Wall will get a second chance at UK provided he has his academic work in order.
It’s hard for me to throw stones at any teenager who makes a mistake without giving him or her a second chance. After all, who’s perfect at any age?
The problem, though, is that Wall’s plea, Jarmon’s suspension, Memphis’ NCAA woes and dueling lawsuits have combined to paint an unflattering picture of UK athletics that has negated the feel-good atmosphere Kentucky had been enjoying since Calipari’s arrival.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Even with today’s new math, 18 minus 3 equals 15. And 15 is still greater than 13.
Before you applaud my extraordinary math skills, those numbers are only being used to show that even though Kentucky officially announced Tuesday that Jared Carter, A.J. Stewart and Donald Williams will not return to the basketball team, the Wildcats are still potentially two players over the NCAA allotted 13 scholarship limit for next year.
New coach John Calipari has six signees and nine returning players, including Matt Pilgrim who sat out last year as a transfer.
That means if Jodie Meeks comes back to UK rather than going to the NBA and signees John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins are both eligible, two more current Cats have to go to reach the NCAA limit.
Carter basically said in March that he would not seek a fifth year. That’s no surprise considering he has career averages of 1.0 points and 1.1 rebounds per game in 42 appearances. Those are not exactly the kind of numbers that work in Calipari’s dribble-drive offense, or any offense.
Maybe Carter will join the new semi-pro team in Lexington coached by Kyle Macy that is starting soon and can play basketball while staying close to home.
Williams? He was redshirted last year when he was a late signee by then coach Billy Gillispie. It was widely known he was at UK on a one-year scholarship and year two would depend on numbers. Once Gillispie was fired, there was no doubt Williams — who redshirted and did not play last year — would be gone.
“My time at Kentucky was a great experience,” said Williams in a release from UK. “I developed great friendships with my teammates, the environment was great, the fans showed us a lot of love, my teachers were great. Even though I had to sit out this year, I would have liked to have played and helped, but with Coach (Gillispie) leaving, sometimes it just happens that way.”
It does and one has to wonder when Williams is sitting out next season as a transfer if he finds another Division I school willing to take him if he will be as thrilled with his UK experience.
Stewart is the more intriguing departure. He averaged only 2.0 points and 1.5 rebounds per game last year in 5.7 minutes per game. He could show flashes of brilliance and then make a silly mistake like miss class, fall asleep in a film session or cut class. Gillispie said he quit the team after last year’s loss to South Carolina. Stewart said he didn’t.
His departure was predictable. Even though he’s extremely popular with teammates, he just has not shown the discipline it will take to play for Calipari.
So if Wall and Cousins, UK’s two highest rated, recruits qualify academically as Calipari has predicted they will and Meeks, who seems more and more prone to leave his name in the NBA Draft, does come back, who still must go?
The most logical seems to be sophomore point guard DeAndre Liggins. He had his ups and downs as a freshman. He refused to play in the second half of one game, then led UK to victory the next game. He may also have had some off-court issues that won’t help.
Wall and signee Eric Bledsoe both probably will play in front of him at point guard next season. Even if Wall just stays one year, that leaves Bledsoe ahead of Liggins and Calipari probably will sign another point guard next year that would be in front of Liggins. That gives him no chance to show he can harness his reckless energy for Calipari.
Obviously, Patrick Patterson and Darius Miller are not going anywhere. Perry Stevenson is a returning starter and fellow seniors Ramon Harris and Kevin Galloway are not inclined to walk away the way Michael Porter did.
That leaves only Pilgrim and Josh Harrellson, a former junior college player who came to UK as a sophomore last year. Pilgrim seems the better fit, but Harrellson has said he wants to stay and recently posted on Facebook that he would be back.
That’s why Calipari still has a little more number juggling to do – and no, dropping popular walk-on Landon Slone from the team doesn’t count – before he reaches that magic number of 13. Then again, if Meeks doesn’t come back and someone isn’t eligible, then the numbers already will be just fine.
What do you think?
Let sports editor Larry Vaught know what you think of the recent NCAA ruling that ended UK defensive end Jeremy Jarmon’s career for using a banned substance when he bought an over the counter diet supplement. Send your comments, name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
By LARRY VAUGHT
This summer was supposed to be a rare time for Jeremy Jarmon to get his mind briefly off football and the pressure he was sure to feel in trying to help Kentucky reach a fourth straight bowl game and also enhance his NFL draft status.
The senior defensive end already had established himself as one of the top players in the Southeastern Conference with his play the past two seasons. He had also already shown he was a well-rounded student-athlete with his accomplishments off the playing field.
That’s why the Kentucky coach staff had no problem approving Jarmon’s month-long trip to Paris this summer. His UK roommate is from Germany, and he also had friends in other neighboring countries he planned to visit when he wasn’t studying courses such as French culture, psychology and maybe even photography because he’s always been quick to use his digital camera.
Jarmon, who had been to Europe before, was even planning to blog about his trip for the Kentucky athletics Web site and post pictures as well. That’s how special Jarmon is, and has been since his arrival at Kentucky from Memphis four years ago.
That’s why it still seems so ironic, and tragic, that his collegiate career has ended because he accidentally took a banned substance for two weeks in his off-season attempt to shed weight. He didn’t smoke marijuana. He didn’t use cocaine. He didn’t drive drunk. He didn’t rob anyone. He didn’t fail classes.
Instead, he spent his own money to buy a diet supplement that contain a banned substance and then was randomly picked for a NCAA drug test just days after he found out he should not be taking the supplement. It made no difference that his second test a few weeks later came back negative. The damage was done and Saturday we all learned that Jarmon’s UK career is over.
Even athletics director Mitch Barnhart was visibly shaken as he had to announce Jarmon’s suspension and then watch the defensive lineman cry as he read a prepared statement explaining what he had inadvertently done.
“He has been a tremendous leader. His smile has graced our program and practice fields and locker rooms. We’re appreciative of what he’s contributed to this program. He doesn’t have to do this today. He’s not required to be here, but it’s something he wanted to do,” Barnhart said Saturday.
Learning from mistakes
Hopefully other athletes listened to Jarmon or will pay attention to what he said.
“I am a young person that has made mistakes in my life but I have learned from them. I am going to make more mistakes in my life and I will learn from those too. I am certain that UK will ask me to come in and speak on different occasions about the problems with taking supplements,” Jarmon said Saturday. “Hopefully, this will catch the attention of not only collegiate athletes, high school athletes, professional athletes, but just ordinary hard working people as well.
“This is not a situation that I want to forget about or run away from. I want to learn from this mistake and I want others to learn from my mistake as well. I have not spoken to the team, but I plan to do so when everyone is required to report back in June.”
How amazing was that? No excuses. No whining. No asking for sympathy. Instead, he wants to use his experience to help others.
Knowing Jarmon, that’s no surprise. That’s the kind of young man he is. But it is also what makes this so hard to understand and not feel bitter toward the NCAA for having no leniency even though Jarmon asked for none Saturday.
“This isn’t the last thing you’ll hear of Jeremy Jarmon, he will do great things because of who he is and what he represents. He’s a bright young man, who just happens to be gifted athletically. He’ll do well, whether that’s in business or on the field,” Barnhart said. “This is a small setback for him, but one he will clearly overcome.
“Here’s a guy willing to set the record straight and send the message to other young people how to manage, what not to do, what not to get caught up in. I admire him for that.”
So do I.
By LARRY VAUGHT
No way could this be true.
On my way to the Class A state track meet in Louisville Saturday, I got a phone call telling me that Jeremy JarmonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s football career at Kentucky was over because of a positive drug test.
Jarmon? No way.
HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s one of the most articulate, positive, caring and conscientious players I have ever known at Kentucky. He takes great pride in his value as a role model and team leader. He goes out of his way to do community service work and has been a huge ambassador for Kentucky football.
He had turned down a chance to enter the NFL draft to return to Kentucky for his senior season and hopefully help the Wildcats reach a fourth straight bowl game. He was once again going to anchor the defense from his end position and at the same time work to enhance his draft status.
Now his career is over.
He held an emotional press conference Saturday in Lexington with athletics director Mitch Barnhart. I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t there, but I intently watched the live feed on the Internet.
Once I found out what I had heard was true, I was almost glad I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t there. When Jarmon cried as he read from a prepared statement, my heart ached for him.
He had Ã¢â‚¬Å“inadvertentlyÃ¢â‚¬Â taken a banned substance, and tested positive during a random NCAA test in February. He took a supplement he legally purchased while recovering from a shoulder injury when he was not working out with the team in offseason workouts. When he checked with the UK training staff about the supplement, he was told to stop taking it. However, the NCAA banned substance showed up in a drug test. A second drug test six weeks later after he stopped taking the supplement was negative.
But it didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t matter. The damage was done. The NCAA denied UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s appeal and the one-year suspension ends his career since he had already been redshirted as a freshman because of an injury.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“My fans and teammates will be disappointed when news of this spreads, but no one can be more disappointed than me. … I was born a Kentucky fan, I will die a Kentucky fan, I will be a Wildcat for life,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jarmon said.
It had to take enormous courage, and class, to show up for the press conference. Even though he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t field any questions, many athletes would have not shown up to admit their mistake even if it was an accidental one.
He knows this will tarnish the image heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s worked so hard at UK to build. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a political science major, accomplished actor and eventually hopes to go into politics. It also leaves him with few options for next season about a professional future.
If he had kept his name in the draft, none of this likely would have ever come out. He would have been drafted, a NFL team would have seen the report and he would have faced a punishment far less severe than what the NCAA gave him.
JarmonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s loss is a big blow to the Kentucky football team. However, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not the big issue here. What matters is that a young man who has stayed out of trouble to pursue his academic and athletic dreams has now had his career derailed by a seemingly innocent mistake.
If anyone can overcome this debacle, it could be Jarmon. However, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to even think about that today after watching a player IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve come to know and like so well have to endure the emotional and mental anguish he did Saturday and will for a long, long time to come.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Ã¢â‚¬â€ Kentucky defensive end Jeremy Jarmon has been ruled ineligible for his senior season by the NCAA because of a failed drug test.
He said at a news conference Saturday he had inadvertently taken a banned substance that turned up positive during a random NCAA test in February. An appeal was denied, in effect ending his college football career.
Jarmon did not identify the substance or say where he got it. He took no questions.
Jarmon has the third-most sacks in Kentucky history. He was an honorable mention on last season’s AP All-Southeastern Conference team.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Since they both feel Kentucky gave so much to them, Craig Yeast and Tim Couch thought it was only fitting that they combine to give something back to the state.
That’s why the two University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Famers will hold two football camps next month in eastern Kentucky.
The first is June 12-13 at Rockcastle County High School in Mount Vernon, and the other is June 26-27 at Pikeville High School in Pikeville, and both are for players in grades 7-12.
“I have been hounding Tim for a while about this. We truly feel we can do something together for years to come,” said Yeast, who now lives in Danville. “We feel we can team up and give something back to the kids of Kentucky. Hopefully some really good things will come out of this.”
Good things certainly came to Kentucky when Couch was quarterback and Yeast was one of his receivers. They combined for a 97-yard scoring strike against Florida in 1998 that is one of the most memorable plays in school history and helped the Wildcats reach the Outback Bowl that season.
Couch had camps when he played for Cleveland during his NFL career. Yeast has worked at camps and had his first camp at Harrodsburg last summer (and he plans to have another one July 13-15 at Alvis Johnson Field).
“We never really talked about anything like this when we played together,” Couch said. “But the last couple of years we’ve mentioned it and we finally just sat down and made it happen.
“I love working with kids. So does Craig. We want to give back to the community and state. I want to especially reach as many eastern Kentucky kids as we can and teach them a lot not only about football, but also about life.”
There will be some high school coaches working at the camp along with former UK players. Yeast has already talked to former Kentucky receiver Keenan Burton and also hopes to have former UK tight end Jacob Tamme involved if possible. Burton and Tamme will soon be starting their second NFL seasons.
“It’s going to be a skills camp. I will work a lot with quarterbacks, but I will be around helping everybody. So will Craig,” Couch said.
Yeast prides himself on his organizational skills, and his camp last year featured non-stop drills and activities for players. He says these two camps will be run the same way.
“Everything will be planned out. We are going to work and teach skills. They’ll see how to throw, catch and run. We will teach them how to cover and play defense, too,” Yeast said. “We have talked about different things we want to do and we have a good plan for our starting point.”
They both want the camp to eventually grow into a statewide event with camps in the north, central and west as well as more camps in the east.
“Our goal is to really expand it in the years ahead,” Couch said. “Next year, if everything goes well this year, we will get out to a lot more areas. We want to reach as many kids as we can. We just wanted to start small and see what could do and how many kids we could handle.”
However, they are also teaming with Operation UNITE, an organization that helps children and families in eastern Kentucky cope with drug-related issues.
“We really want to reach kids beyond football,” Couch said. “There are so many problems with drugs and pain pills in eastern Kentucky. We want an educational camp where they will learn a lot about football, but also about being a good person.
“I read about it and see the drug problems and things like that in the part of the state where I am from. It’s bad to have things going that direction. I don’t know how much one person can help, but if we just help one or two kids that certainly will be worth the effort.”
Yeast is just as passionate about that part of the camp as Couch is.
“I know it is a big problem in eastern Kentucky, but it is just as big in central Kentucky and everywhere else. We want to talk to kids about that,” Yeast said. “We will give Operation UNITE to talk about what they can do, but we are also going to tell kids things ourselves because we both feel very strongly about this issue.
“So while the focus will be on football, this camp will be about more than just football.”
Registration forms for the camp are at www.inthemomentsports.com. Other questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A look at Craig Yeast’s football career.
High school – Set a single-season scoring record at Harrodsburg in 1994 with 212 points when he ran for 1,629 yards and 28 touchdowns on 173 carries and returned two punts for touchdowns. Completed 43 of 84 passes for 739 yards and eight touchdowns.
College – Played at Kentucky and set a Southeastern Conference record with 208 receptions for 2,899 yards, the second best mark in SEC history at the time his career ended in 1998. Returned three kickoffs and one punt for touchdowns in 1998.
NFL – Drafted in the fourth round by the New York Jets in 1999 and played for the Jets and Bengals. Best season was in 2000 when he caught 24 passes for 301 yards for the Bengals.
CFL – Spent four years with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League and had 158 catches for 2,706 yards and 13 touchdowns. In 2004 had 59 catches for 1,184 yards and eight scores and had 65 catches for 1,010 yards in 2005.
A look at Tim Couch’s football career.
High school – Set numerous national records at Leslie County High School including most touchdown passes (133) and passing percentage (75.1) for a season. Ranked as the nation’s sixth best high school athlete ever by ESPN.
College – Completed 795 of 1,184 passes for 8,435 yards, including 4,275 yards in 1998 when he was a Heisman Trophy candidate, and 74 touchdowns, including a 97-yard strike to Craig Yeast against Florida in 1998. Holds the NCAA record for completion percentage (80.3) for going 44-for-53 against Vanderbilt in 1998. Held records for most completions in a season (400) and career completion percentage (67.1) when he left UK.
NFL – First overall pick of the Cleveland Browns after leaving UK following his junior season. He had 64 touchdown passes and completed 59.8 percent of his passes (1,025 of 1,741) for 11,131 yards. Has rookie single-season passing records including pass attempts (399), pass completions (223), passing yards (2,447), touchdowns (15), and QB rating (73.2). Was the Browns’ leading passer from 1999-2002.
It was no surprise that John Wall confirmed to everyone Wednesday that he had signed to play college basketball at Kentucky for John Calipari.
However, Wall did have one potential surprise during his press conference at Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, N.C.
“My plan is to go to the University of Kentucky for the next two or three years,” said Wall.
Two or three years?
While that may sound alarms for some players, it probably cause more than a few Big Blue fans to get downright giddy when they heard the comments because the prevailing logic has been that Wall, the nation’s top-ranked point guard, would play one year in college and then jump to the NBA.
Will that still happen? Probably. Wall even admitted that if Calipari told him he was ready to play in the NBA after next season, he would heed that advice. That’s no surprise, either, since Wall has made it clear that Calipari’s ability to get players ready for the NBA is one thing that made him want to play for the coach.
Calipari sent current NBA Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose to the NBA after one season at Memphis and Tyreke Evans, Calipari’s point guard at Memphis last year, is expected to be a high draft pick this June.
Wall could be that good, too. He was a finalist for the Naismith National High School Player of the Year. He was a high school all-American, consensus No. 1 point guard in the country and had every major school in the country at least making inquires about him.
Calipari spent two years recruiting Wall. He was close to getting a commitment from him at Memphis before Wall’s mother became ill in the fall. He was close to getting a commitment again this spring before Calipari left Memphis for Kentucky.
In the last month, Wall has methodically cut his recruiting list to where he had Duke, Miami and Kentucky left. He never misled coaches into thinking he would make a quick decision and made it clear he would not take recruiting visits until after his season ended.
Calipari and his staff felt they could sign Wall if they did not pressure him to make a decision – and they didn’t. Calipari let Wall take his time rather than foolishly impose a deadline for his decision on him as some felt he should do.
“I’ve recruited John for nearly two years and I’ve gotten to know him to be not only a fine player but a fine person,” Calipari said. “He’s a terrific teammate who wants to win, yet driven to personally improve. I’m very excited for the opportunity to add him to our family.”
Wall believes he has met NCAA eligibility requirements but may retake his college entrance test again in hopes of raising his score.
Then there is the class 1 misdemeanor breaking and entering charge he faces when he was cited for entering a vacant house with two friends. There was no sign of forcible entry and no sign of vandalism at the house.
Wall is scheduled to appear in court on May 29 and recently told the Raleigh News & Observer that he was “in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I take responsibility for that. I will accept whatever punishment I am given because I was wrong. I’m sorry that it happened.”
At worst he’ll likely get community service and learn a valuable lesson about what being in the limelight is going to be like at Kentucky – and then the NBA – where someone watches his every move.
Wall may have briefly considered a move to the NBA this spring because he is a fifth-year senior, and could have been a lottery pick because he’s already been projected as the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft.
Yet Wall says he wanted to go to college to fulfill a promise to his father, who died several years ago. That’s another reason he’s determined not to let this latest off-court incident derail his future plans.
Those close to Wall say it would be grossly unfair to judge him away from basketball based on this incident.
“He’s always been extremely polite and nice. He’s never lied to me. He’s never been in trouble until this recent incident,” Tim Stevens of the Raleigh News & Observer said. “He’s not conceited. He’s very confident, but not cocky. He’s a good kid and great player.”
And that won’t change whether Wall is at Kentucky more than one year, but it’s also why he’s likely going to be a one-and-done star for Calipari just like Rose and Evans were.
John Calipari has spent the last two years recruiting North Carolina point guard John Wall, so itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no surprise the Kentucky coach was more than willing to wait however long it took for Wall to make his college choice.
Wall officially confirmed today that he has signed with Kentucky Ã¢â‚¬â€ news he informally shared Tuesday Ã¢â‚¬â€ at a press conference at Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, N.C.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve recruited John for nearly two years and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve gotten to know him to be not only a fine player but a fine person,Ã¢â‚¬Â Calipari said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a terrific teammate who wants to win, yet driven to personally improve. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m very excited for the opportunity to add him to our family.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Wall surprised many during the press conference when he at least indicated he might stay at UK more than one year. The prevailing logic has been that Wall, the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s top-ranked point guard, would play one year in college and then jump to the NBA.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“My plan is to go to the University of Kentucky for the next two or three years,Ã¢â‚¬Â Wall said.
However, he did say if Calipari told him he was ready to play in the NBA after next season, he would heed that advice. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no surprise, either, since Wall has made it clear that CalipariÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ability to get players ready for the NBA is one thing that made him want to play for the coach.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“My relationship with coach Cal just got overboard,Ã¢â‚¬Â Wall said after finally eliminating Duke and Miami from his final list of schools.
Calipari sent current NBA Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose to the NBA after one season at Memphis and Tyreke Evans, CalipariÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s point guard at Memphis last year, is expected to be a high draft pick this June.
Wall was a finalist for the Naismith National High School Player of the Year and earned All-American honors. He helped his team win state titles in 2007 and 2008 and this year it reached the state final before losing.
He played for the 2009 USA Junior National select team in the Nike Hoops Summit in Portland in April and set a game record with 11 assists and tied the record for steals with five. He also scoring 13 points.