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By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach John Calipari never ceases to run out of ideas — and he has another one even though this one might not bode well for the UK football team.
Calipari was in West Liberty Friday to help raise money for the town that was devastated by a tornado on March 2 and even said on Kentucky Sports Radio that he and his wife would match up to $25,000 in donations to WestLibertyRecovery.com during a specified period and if more money was raised, he would find others to help match that.
But then the UK coach, who had the NCAA championship trophy with him Friday, also announced there would be an exhibition basketball game featuring current NBA players who are UK alumni. The coach indicated most would likely play in the game that would pit players from the 1996 national championship team against more recent Cats. The game would be in Rupp Arena — and likely draw a huge crowd — and start at 2 p.m. with proceeds going to charity, including some to West Liberty.
So what’s the problem with football? Kentucky is scheduled to play Western Kentucky at 7 p.m. in Commonwealth Stadium on Sept. 15 in its second home game. Tell me what will create more buzz — the NBA/alumni basketball game or UK-Western football? Sure, the basketball game will end in plenty of time for fans to attend both, but how many will?
Kentucky football coach Joker Phillips went to West Liberty and did a free football camp and he announced on Kentucky Sports Radio that all those who attended will get free tickets to that Western Kentucky game. Great gesture, great idea.
But surely there could be a way to play the basketball game some other weekend. Don’t forget that is also the Hall of Fame weekend where Derek Abney (football), Leroy Edwards (men’s basketball), J.B. Holmes (men’s golf), Jeff Keener (baseball), Clayton Moss (swimming and diving) and Nancy Scranton (women’s golf) will be formally inducted into the UK Hall of Fame. They’ll be way overshadowed by the basketball exhibition game, too.
To me, it’s bad enough that UK has regular-season basketball games on November Friday night during the high school playoffs and that Big Blue Madness is also a Friday. Those things don’t help high school football — and in the long run UK football — but sometimes scheduling is not an easy issue. I understand that.
However, with the UK football program facing a key year, it just doesn’t seem to me the best thing is to have a basketball exhibition game in Rupp Arena a few hours before a home football game.
Maybe you agree. Maybe you disagree. Let me know your feelings.