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Kentucky forward Julius Randle (30) shoots over a Georgia defense during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinal round of the Southeastern Conference men's tournament, Saturday, March 15, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Kentucky forward Julius Randle (30) shoots over a Georgia defense during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinal round of the Southeastern Conference men’s tournament, Saturday, March 15, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

This is the third in a series of stories on the Kentucky season with various media members offering their insights as UK gets set to start NCAA play.

Question: Do you see any scenario where UK could make the Final Four this year after starting the season No. 1?

Ryan Lemond: “Not a chance in France. Only if all the other teams come down with a month long flu bug. There is no way this team has showed me anything to indicate they are a final four team, especially finishing out the season losing three of their last four and nearly four of their last five. No way.”

Larry Glover: “For UK to make the Final Four, they would need a really favorable draw in terms of match ups and the region would need to fall apart a little bit. They also needed to escape the dreaded 7 to 10 seed zone. If so, they would avoid 1 and 2 seeded teams in the first weekend.  That would be a big help.”

Keith Taylor: “No. They would have to make a total transformation from the last two weeks of the season. They haven’t fared well against ranked teams. Do not see any reason to believe it all changes now, especially if opposing teams apply consistent pressure and get the Cats rattled.”

Tyler Thompson: “I think the only way it could have happened is if they won the SEC Tournament. For a group this young, momentum is everything. In my opinion, 95 percent of this team’s problems have been mental, which is completely understandable given their youth and the unreasonable expectations. For this group, it’s never ‘can they beat someone,’ it’s ‘will they beat someone,’ and if they had banded together to win the SEC, they may have finally cleared that mental hurdle and realized their full potential.”

Mary Jo Perino: “No, just being honest. The blueprint on how to beat UK is already out there and established, as much as that pains me to say.”

Mark Buerger: “None. They have shown no sign that they can put together any kind of run, especially against better teams.”

Jennifer Palumbo: “If nothing else, this college basketball season shows anything can happen. At the beginning of the season, who said the only undefeated team would be Wichita State?  I’m not saying UK will be in the Final Four, but why not?”

Tom Leach: “Yes.  Several times this season, I have cited Kentucky’s record in comparison to Michigan’s Fab Five group of 1992 (the only team to start five freshmen in a national championship game).  The overall records and the records against quality teams are quite similar and that ’92 Michigan team seemed to catch fire in the NCAA Tournament and each win fed their momentum.  And that Michigan group was a 6-seed that year.  The odds are against UK making that kind of run but could it happen?  Absolutely.  The seed is not as big a deal if the team gets its game right and we certainly saw signs of that last week in Atanta.”

Denver Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme (84) celebrates his touchdown with teammate Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker (87) during the first half of the AFC Championship NFL playoff football game in Denver, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Denver Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme (84) celebrates his touchdown with teammate Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker (87) during the first half of the AFC Championship NFL playoff football game in Denver, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Boyle County native Jacob Tamme has been in the NFL for six years, and will be playing in his second Super Bowl Sunday when his Denver Broncos take on Seattle in New York. Tamme, 28, was a fourth-round draft pick by Indianapolis in the 2008 after his record-setting career at Kentucky. He has 164 career catches for 1,594 yards and eight score. He caught a 1-yard touchdown pass and had another 23-yard reception in last week’s AFC title game win over New England to send him back to the Super Bowl where he played for Indianapolis when the Colts lost to New Orleans.

Statewide media members have covered/watched Tamme’s high school, college and NFL career. Lexington Herald-Leader columnist Mark Story, former WLEX-TV anchor Mary Jo Perino, Kentucky Sports Radio host Ryan Lemond, WLEX-TV sports anchor Alan Cutler, UK Radio Network play-by-play voice Tom Leach and WLAP Sunday Morning Sports Talk host Mark Buerger shared their insights on Tamme.

Question: What kind of legacy do you think Tamme will eventually leave behind when his playing career ends?

Story: “How many people from the state of Kentucky have played in two Super Bowls? As legacies go, that is pretty strong.”

Perino: “Jacob’s legacy, I believe, will be first and foremost that of a great teammate. Peyton manning doesn’t pick duds, and he sees what we all know to be true about Jacob. He will be remembered as a leader, a guy who will do anything asked of him on the field, and someone who used his position in the NFL to help others. He is one of the most selfless, caring people I have ever met.
Cutler: “The perfect team player.”

Lemond: “I think he has become the perfect ambassador for UK and central Kentucky, meaning he is not only a great football player, he is probably a better person. He leads his life the right way. He promotes his Christianity. He is who we wish all of our sons could grow up to be.  He is the guy we wish our daughters would date. He is the guy that everyone can be proud of whether you’re a Boyle County Rebel or a Danville Admiral or a Kentucky Wildcat or a Louisville Cardinal. He has represented this state well, and I couldn’t be prouder of him.”

Leach: “You look at Jacob’s career and you see him being on teams that won a lot of games, so his legacy is one of consistent success and production that his teams could count on.”

Buerger: “I think he’ll be remembered as a good guy and a terrific player who was in the perfect place for his skill set.”

Denver Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme (84) celebrates his touchdown during the first half of the AFC Championship NFL playoff football game against the New England Patriots in Denver, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Denver Broncos tight end Jacob Tamme (84) celebrates his touchdown during the first half of the AFC Championship NFL playoff football game against the New England Patriots in Denver, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Boyle County native Jacob Tamme has been in the NFL for six years, and will be playing in his second Super Bowl Sunday when his Denver Broncos take on Seattle in New York. Tamme, 28, was a fourth-round draft pick by Indianapolis in the 2008 after his record-setting career at Kentucky. He has 164 career catches for 1,594 yards and eight score. He caught a 1-yard touchdown pass and had another 23-yard reception in last week’s AFC title game win over New England to send him back to the Super Bowl where he played for Indianapolis when the Colts lost to New Orleans.

Statewide media members have covered/watched Tamme’s high school, college and NFL career. Lexington Herald-Leader columnist Mark Story, former WLEX-TV anchor Mary Jo Perino, Kentucky Sports Radio host Ryan Lemond, WLEX-TV sports anchor Alan Cutler, UK Radio Network play-by-play voice Tom Leach and WLAP Sunday Morning Sports Talk host Mark Buerger shared their insights on Tamme.

Question: Did you ever envision him having the type of NFL career he’s had?

Story: “Unless you are a star, so much about surviving in the NFL (or NBA) is ‘fit.’ Jacob was lucky to be drafted by a team (Indianapolis) whose scheme he fit perfectly. When Jacob got a chance (through Dallas Clark’s injury), he was prepared and took advantage of it in a big way. When Peyton Manning headed west, Jacob had earned his confidence and the QB wanted him in Denver, too.”

Perino: “I did and I didn’t. I have always known Jacob had what it takes, but it’s so hard to predict what a player will do at the next level, and so much of it is about what scheme you end up playing in. Jacob got lucky in some respects to have landed where he did, but luck is only what you make of it if you’re prepared for the situation. I never had any doubt Jacob would be ready and work hard.

Cutler: “Yes I did. And I think he would have put up some impressive numbers if he was a starter. He knows how to find holes in a zone which is big and doesn’t get talked about enough.”

Lemond: “To be honest, no. And if anyone tries to tell you that they knew from back in his days as a Boyle County Rebel that he would have this type of NFL career, they are not being truthful. He was a great high school player. We named him the LEX18 Sportszone player of the year, but this guy almost didn’t get to play at Kentucky. Without the coaching change and Mitch Barnhart getting involved in between the coaches, Tamme may have never played at Kentucky. And keep in mind, he came to UK as a receiver. Only a change within offensive coordinators moved him to tight end. The starts lined up for him, and took full advantage.”

Leach: “Can’t say I envisioned it but Jacob is a guy that needed to get with the right team, one that relied on tight ends more for pass-catching than blocking/size, so once he went to the Colts (and later Denver), it was not surprising to see him do well in those situations.”
Buerger: “Honestly, no. I worried that he’d be sort of a tweener. Not big enough for a traditional tight end and not fast enough to play receiver. His hard work and changes in the way offenses use tight ends have really benefited him.”

Jacob, Luke and Allison Tamme. (photo submitted)

Jacob, Luke and Allison Tamme. (photo submitted)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Boyle County native Jacob Tamme has been in the NFL for six years, and will be playing in his second Super Bowl Sunday when his Denver Broncos take on Seattle in New York. Tamme, 28, was a fourth-round draft pick by Indianapolis in the 2008 after his record-setting career at Kentucky. He has 164 career catches for 1,594 yards and eight score. He caught a 1-yard touchdown pass and had another 23-yard reception in last week’s AFC title game win over New England to send him back to the Super Bowl where he played for Indianapolis when the Colts lost to New Orleans.

Statewide media members have covered/watched Tamme’s high school, college and NFL career. Lexington Herald-Leader columnist Mark Story, former WLEX-TV anchor Mary Jo Perino, Kentucky Sports Radio host Ryan Lemond, WLEX-TV sports anchor Alan Cutler, UK Radio Network play-by-play voice Tom Leach and WLAP Sunday Morning Sports Talk host Mark Buerger shared their insights on Tamme.

Question: What continues to impress you the most about Jacob Tamme?
Story: “His competitiveness. Because Jacob is such a nice guy in civilian life, I think his competitive drive gets overlooked. The fire that allowed Tamme to soar above Eric Berry to turn a sure Tennessee interception into a 40-yard UK gain and launch Kentucky’s big rally against UT in 2007 is a big key, I think, to what has allowed Jacob to ‘make it’ in the NFL.

Perino: “His professionalism. He may not have gotten the same opportunities to play as he did last season, but that hasn’t stopped him from working hard and taking advantage of every time he did get on the field, even as a special teams player.”

Cutler: “Class act. As classy an athlete as I’ve ever talked to at UK.”

Lemond: “  Considering the shelf life of most NFL players is usually just three years, Tamme continues to impress me with his ability to stay in the league. I think it comes from his incredible work ethic and being a true “team” player. If he has to play special teams, he does it. If he has to tackle somebody, he does it. If he has to put his hand down and block some 280-pound defensive end, he does it. If he has to block to set up a play, he does it. If he has to catch a pass, he does that too. He deserves it because he has worked hard at it his entire career.”

Leach: “First, he’s always been a class act. As for on the field, what has always impressed me is that he makes ‘significant’ catches. In the AFC title game, his two catches were a touchdown and the play that sealed the win. At Kentucky, he often seemed to be the go-to guy for a key third or fourth down pass.”

Buerger: “From a football standpoint, I think his staying power in the league is what impresses me the most. The NFL is a tough business. Even if you manage to avoid the injuries that drive a lot of guys out, careers aren’t necessarily long. He has had a really good one. From a personal standpoint, I love the way he has used his success to help others, and the way he remains a proud Kentuckian and come back to do so much of his work here. Seems like a truly all-around good guy.”

uk-ul-logo1By LARRY VAUGHT

Seven Lexington-based media members — WLEX-TV sports anchor Alan Cutler (@cutler18), WKYT-TV news anchor Jennifer Palumbo (@JenNimePalumbo), Kentucky Sports Radio analyst Ryan Lemond (@ryanlemond), UK radio play-by-play announcer Tom Leach (@tomleachKY), WLAP Sunday Morning sports talk host Mark Buerger (@meisterbuerger), Winchester Sun sports editor Keith Taylor (@keithtaylor21) and Larry Glover Live sports talk host Larry Glover (@larrygloverlive) — offer their insights on Saturday’s Kentucky-Louisville game and who they think will win in a five-part series this week.

Now the game picks from Cutler, Leach, Glover and Taylor:

Cutler: “UK because it’s at Rupp.”

Glover: “I think UK gets the win. Frankly, I’m not sure how good Louisville is because in their only game against a quality team (North Carolina) they looked overmatched. On the other hand, the Cats played North Carolina on the road and seemed far more equipped to beat the Tar Heels, despite all of their flaws. Plus, Rupp will be electric in a way that we’ve only seen a few times. The atmosphere will energize the young players so the effort and energy, that sometimes disappears, will be there.

“Also, because it’s bitter rivalry game, I expect the referees will call it tight to maintain control and that hurts UofL more than Kentucky.  Louisville’s grit and UK’s youth will keep it fairly close but the Cats will pull away and win it 83-71.”

Leach: “The game being played in Rupp may give Kentucky the extra edge to get the win against the Cards. This will be the first ‘big’ game that Kentucky has had on its home floor this season and I would expect Big Blue Nation to bring its ‘A’ game.”

Taylor: “Because of experience and based on Kentucky’s games against Michigan State, Baylor and North Carolina, I have to give Louisville the slight edge. Cards win a close one, 72-68.”

Click on the photo above to view the video of John Calipari in his postgame comments about Cleveland State.

Click on the photo above to view the video of John Calipari in his postgame comments about Cleveland State.

By LARRY VAUGHT

Vaughtsviews.com regular Larry Pup posed an interesting topic to me that I want to share with you.

“I think interesting  topic for discussion on VV’s would be who the readers think was the best radio play by play announcer the Kentucky Wildcats have ever had. My pick is Cawood Ledford,” Larry Pup said.

So I asked him what he remembered about other UK announcers. Here was his response:

“I have only heard tapes of Claude Sullivan, and he was tremendous for UK.  Shucks horse racing, too.  Many UK fans who remember Claude feel he bested Cawood, but I grew to love Cawood Ledford over the years calling Wildcat games. Sitting by the radio in an earlier life, Cawood made you feel like you were right there in the stadium or at the basketball game.  He was tops in my book.

“One of the best college football radio announcers I ever heard was  Larry Munson on the Georgia Bulldog network.  I used to listen to him a lot when I lived in the deep south.  His famous quote ‘Hunker down Dogs’  just grabbed you by the throat and kept you so focused to the broadcast.  I lived in Jacksonville the year Derrick Ramsey and company whipped the Bulldogs bad between the hedges.  I believe the score was something like 33 to 7.  I will never forget the credit and kind words Munson uttered in that broadcast for that UK team.  I was very proud of the Wildcat” that day and year, and what a team that was with Art Still and some of those others players.

“I also like Mike Hubert of the Florida Gators with his famous saying ‘OH MY!” He does a really great job and makes the game come alive.  Florida tends to do that however on many plays without his help.

“I would be curious how other Wildcat fans rate our own Tom Leach.  He does a good job, but he is no Cawood, perhaps in time.”

So what do you think? Who has been UK’s best play-by-play announcer?  How do you like Leach, who I think is very, very good?

Mary Jo Perino recently prepared for a live broadcast from the SEC Tournament in Nashville. (Gary Moyers photo)

Mary Jo Perino recently prepared for a live broadcast from the SEC Tournament in Nashville. (Gary Moyers photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

If you are a Kentucky football or basketball fan, you likely know WLEX-TV (Channel 18) sports anchor Mary Jo Perino. She’s been a smiling face that openly roots for the Big Blue but yet comes across as knowledgeable and fair and not a homer.

Soon she’ll be leaving her job to pursue other opportunities that will make it easier for her to spend time with her 7-year-old son. Our loss is her gain and her son’s gain and how could you not be happy for her.

Still, after watching her for 10 years at WLEX (2002 to 2006 and then from 2007 until now after a brief stint in Atlanta), it’s not going to be quite the same without her.

Just ask Alan Cutler, the sports director at WLEX. He’s worked all 10 years with Perino and their Friday night high school football show was  must-see TV because of the way they interacted. So what will he miss most once she’s gone?

“It’s not one story, it’s the one liners that go up and back. MJP is a closer. She’s great at making a comment that you can’t answer back because it’s on the edge. It’s funny and she knows I can’t respond because the response won’t be politically correct. And she knows exactly what she’s doing,” Cutler said.

She also worked with Ryan Lemond, now a co-host on the syndicated Kentucky Sports Radio weekday morning sports talk show, at Channel 18.

“Mary Jo is one of the my favorite co-workers of all time. It was always a joy to come to work when Mary Jo was there,” Lemond said. “Her desk was directly behind my desk, so it was always a treat for me to have a co-worker that was not only very, very talented, but also a very, very good friend.

“I’m so proud of her. I kind of feel like a ‘big brother’ to her at times, and I’ve just been very proud to see her grow as a broadcaster, a friend and as a mother.”

Tom Leach, the radio voice of the Kentucky Wildcats, has been a Perino fan, too.

“Coaches always want energy from their players and that’s what Mary Jo has always brought to the UK sports scene, plus that wonderful smile. Hope we’ll see her in the crowd even though we won’t see her on press row,” Leach said.

WLAP Sunday Morning Sports host Mark Buerger has a different type best memory of Perino.

“I’ve been at my real job at Special Olympics for 11 State Summer Games events. Mary Jo has emceed the Opening Ceremonies at four of them. Every time I have asked, Mary Jo has made the trek to Richmond immediately after getting off the air to be a part of the event (which starts at 7 p.m. every year),” Buerger said.  “She made it when they were doing construction on the Clays Ferry Bridge. She made it the day Jon Cohen announced he was leaving Kentucky for Mississippi State. And she made it the year I tried to give her a year off, but I had a late cancellation and called her a couple of days before the event.

“And every time she was there she took those Ceremonies just as seriously as she did a broadcast, was an absolute pro and was a big part of producing a great event for the more than 1,300 Special Olympics athletes who compete at the Games every year. We’ll miss having her there!”

But it wasn’t just those who knew Perino well who loved the way she did her job and will miss her as those of use in the media will. Just ask Theresa Salyer.

“We like that she is so personable, enthusiastic and easy to look at, in other words really good looking. She is so passionate about our Cats and you can tell she loves what she is doing,” Salyer said. “She is also very fair in her reporting about UK sports. She is great at the Derby and has taken to the Bluegrass state and loves our state like a native.

“Meeting her personally at the Kentucky Ohio Convention and then having her remember who I was two years later was special.  I took our son, who is a great Mary Jo fan, to met her this year at the SEC Tournament and she was friendly and seemed to enjoy meeting any Cat fan.

“I love her smile, voice, just everything about her and she will be sorely missed by a lot of people. I would love to see her get back into the sports scene somehow or way. She has a lot of knowledge about a variety of sports and gives a fair report.”

Indeed she did and I’ll dearly miss seeing her not only at UK games, but at high school sports events. She was just as passionate about prep sports, and I loved that about her. Her smile could always brighten your day and on air she could always make you feel like she was talking directly to you. And athletes loved talking to her and it showed in the interviews she got on a regular basis. But mainly I’m going to miss seeing her in a professional capacity simply because she was such a good friend.

What about you? If you have seen her work or met her, let me know what you will remember or miss about Perino.

uk-ul-logo1Question: Who do you think wins the Kentucky-Louisville game Saturday and why?

Mary Jo Perino, WLEX-TV: “Louisville. They are the better team.”

Tom Leach, Leach Report and UK Radio Network: “With so many factors working in its favor, Louisville should win at this point in the season, especially with the homecourt advantage.   But I’m also confident Kentucky’s talented freshmen will start to jell as a group and if that starts to happen by Saturday, the Wildcats would have a chance to win a close one.”

Ashley Scoby, vaughtsviews.com: “Louisville. They’re playing much more together than Kentucky is, and a hundred times more sound defensively. The Cards have plenty of motivation this year after what happened in April, and they’re playing at home.”

Jennifer Palumbo, WKDY-TV: “Kentucky will win because the Cats owns the series and Cal owns Pitino.”

Mark Buerger, WLAP Sunday Morning Sports: “Louisville. At home. Play better as a team. Way more experience in games like this.”

Larry Glover, Larry Glover Live: “I think the Cardinals will win the game. If UK takes care of the ball then they can take it to the wire but if they fold under the pressure then it will be a runaway win for U of L. One thing to keep an eye on, the longer UK hangs around the more the pressure builds for U of L late in the game.”

Ryan Lemond, Kentucky Sports Radio: “I am predicting a 50-49 win for U of L. I still don’t think UK has ‘found themselves’ yet, but they are getting closer. I think it’s going to be an ugly game, and the uglier the better for U of L’s chances to finally get a win over Cal’s Cats.”

Keith Taylor, Winchester Sun: “I think Louisville wins this year on the fact that they have a more experienced team and have a proven outfit. They have shown that they can win on the road and also at home, which also is a plus for the Cards. Kentucky hasn’t proven it can overcome a hostile environment and Louisville will be a much-tougher place to play than Notre Dame. I give the nod to Louisville, 75-64.”

And ESPN analyst Dick Vitale is also predicting a 77-70 Louisville victory.

Question: What are the chances both Kentucky and Louisville could make the Final Four again this year?

Mark Buerger, WLAP Sunday Morning Sports: “Somewhere close to zero. I think there’s a decent chance that neither one does. Louisville has trouble scoring from time to time. I think that could ruin them come tournament time. Kentucky just doesn’t look like any kind of threat to get that good by the end of the season. I know they didn’t look like a threat two years ago at this time, but for some reason I don’t see this team making the kind of strides that team made.”

Jennifer Palumbo, WKDY-TV: “There’s a good chance because both teams are talented and well-coached.”

Tom Leach, Leach Report and UK Radio Network: “I would think Louisville’s chances are very good–veteran team with Final Four experience, likelihood of a top two seeding.  This Kentucky team will likely be in a similar position to the one two years ago, where some early setbacks left them with a number four seed so they would probably have to beat two or three higher seeds to make it to Atlanta.  Logically, their prospects of making three Final Fours in a row would not be as bright–but that group two years ago should  have taught us not to write this team off yet.”

Keith Taylor, Winchester Sun: “Louisville has better odds, than Kentucky. The Cardinals have a chip on their shoulder after last year’s loss to Kentucky in the Final Four and wants to prove they belong among the top four teams in the nation this year. Barring a total meltdown in the Big East, the Cardinals likely will open the NCAA Tournament at Rupp Arena and have an easier road to the Georgia Dome than UK at this point. In order to improve its chances, Kentucky needs to climb back into the Top 25 and compete flawlessly in the SEC. The room for error is a small one.”

Mary Jo Perino, WLEX-TV: “It’s so tough to get there for any team.  I give Louisville the better chance.  They’ve got guys who have been there before. It will be much tougher for UK to get there.”

Ryan Lemond, Kentucky Sports Radio: “ I think U of L’s Final Four run last year was kind of a fluke. They really weren’t very good at the end of the season last year (remember the 35 blowout loss to Providence), but they got ‘hot’ at the right time and made a good run. This year there is no denying that they are pretty good. With Dieng they are a Final Four caliber team, but they don’t have that outside scoring threat this year.  So I am predicting Louisville will not make the Final Four.
“I also can’t predict a Final Four for UK.  There are just too many red flags here at the midway point of the season for me to think they can make a Final Four run. I think they will have a great SEC run this year because the SEC is really down, and I think UK is going to only get better and better.
“If I had to lay odds in Vegas on either team reaching the Final Four, I would say: UK 55 percent and U of L 70 percent.”

Ashley Scoby, vaughtsviews.com: “Louisville has a great chance to go far in the tournament this year, barring any season-ending injuries that just seem to have happened to the Cards over the last few years. I’ll be expecting them in the Final Four. Kentucky undoubtedly has the raw talent to make it to the Final Four again, but it all depends on how Calipari continues to develop this team mentally, as well as Ryan Harrow’s continued improvement.”

Larry Glover, Larry Glover Live: “There’s a far better chance that neither team makes it than both teams making it.  Strangely, these two programs , as good as they are, are rarely title worthy at the same time.  They’ve been to the final four at the same time only twice since 1975.”

Next: Who will win the game?

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