By LARRY VAUGHT
Sometimes you just never know when a University of Kentucky connection will pay off again.
When Grayson Smith came to UK from Magoffin County as a football walk-on, I was covering Kentucky sports.
Smith is co-owner of the Salyersville Independent, a weekly paper in Magoffin County, where he’s done everything from write stories to sell ads to help with circulation. Now I am delighted to say his newspaper is the latest to sign on to use my weekly column on University of Kentucky sports.
Smith was a defensive end at Kentucky from 1997-2000 who earned a scholarship with his dedication and all-out effort for coach Hal Mumme. I can even remember doing a story on him competing in the national collegiate boxing championship during his junior year and Mumme giving him a weekend off from spring practice to compete.
Smith has had a diversified career. He’s been active in politics and worked for then Governor Ernie Fletcher as a field representative. He also worked for Congressman Hal Rogers and also served as a political consultant in legislative and state races. He was also director of rural economic development for agriculture commissioner James Comer.
He has remained a loyal Kentucky football fan. He knows UK freshman linebacker Kash Daniel of Paintsville because of political ties Smith has with Daniel’s grandfather. He also remains convinced that Mumme was a much better coach for Kentucky than some want to remember.
“I don’t think people truly realize how popular UK football was for a three-year period when coach Mumme was his own marketing firm for his style of play and the program,” Smith said.
“Remember coach Mumme encouraged us to be tough and loved the fact his team was full of characters. I watched the 1985 (Chicago) Bears “30 for 30″ (on ESPN) and so much of the way they lived was like us in the late 90’s.”
Who knows? Maybe one of my future UK columns will be with Smith talking about former teammates like Jeff Snedegar, perhaps the toughest UK player I’ve ever seen play, and John Rader.
But for today I’m happy to have the Salyersville Independent (@salyersvilleind on Twitter) taking my column along with two other recent additions, the Somerset Commonwealth Journal and Falmouth Outlook.
If you have a local paper you think might have a use for a weekly UK column, let them know to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me and I will get in touch with them.