BOZICH | Monday Muse: U of L's NFL Draft streak; The Story Rick Pitino should NOT read
Sheldon Rankins should become the fifth former U of L football player taken in the first round of the NFL Draft since 2014. Rick Pitino should not read this story about cell phones.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Spring football ends. Horses arrive. The Reds gasp. College basketball recruiting accelerates. The NFL Draft sucks all the oxygen from the room – except in the Monday Muse.
Remember, if you’re driving downtown, Don’t Block the Box, please. Don't gridlock our Derby visitors.
1. FEELING THE DRAFT
What will be at stake for the University of Louisville football program when defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins hears his name called in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night in Chicago?
Some major helmet-shaking, jersey-popping, finger-pointing news for the Cardinals.
Louisville is one of eight programs that have produced at least one first-round pick the last two seasons. U of L is tied with Texas A&M for the most first-rounders (four) in that period (Calvin Pryor, Marcus Smith, Teddy Bridgewater and DeVante Parker).
Rankins will become five and make it three years in a row for U of L when his name is called no later than the middle of round one.
Of the seven other schools who had first-round picks in 2014 and 2015, two – Central Florida and Texas A&M -- are not expected to continue their runs.
The other five? Clemson, Alabama, Michigan State, Florida State and Florida should join U of L in the hunt.
Not a bad neighborhood to live.
2. RICK PITINO: DO NOT READ THIS STORY
This story did not surprise me. It also did not annoy me. I can’t describe how I reacted.
My reaction was sort of like this: This is the way of the world and there isn’t anything that can be done about it. Then I picked up my phone and tapped out a text message.
But there’s no doubt this story will raise the blood pressure of the University of Louisville basketball coach. Rick Pitino has worked on the front line howling about the negative effects of social media and personal communication devices.
Without recruiting Woodward and Bernstein, the New York Times has confirmed that NBA players checked their phones for text messages, Tweets, Facebooks posts, Instagrams and other goodies at halftime.
That's correct. During games.
You have to believe in happens in other sports, even though there are rules against it. I'm sure it happens at strange moments in other professions. And universes. Everywhere.
Here is the question: Who will be the first guy to check his phone between free throw attempts?
3. UPGRADED 2016 FOOTBALL RANKINGS
Believe it or not, stories for several college football yearbooks were due two weeks ago, before many spring practice games were played. Look for something on your newsstand by mid-to-late May.
I’ve been searching for upgraded national rankings of all FBS programs.
Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel is all in on college football. If you love the game, you should follow him on Twitter @osmattmurchel. He’s already counting down all 128 teams, starting with UMass, his pick as the worst club in America. (Florida, Mississippi State and Boston College won the lottery as the Power Five schools fortunate to jump on the UMass schedule.)
Murschel just started his rundown, ranking Louisiana-Monroe at 123 on Monday. You can follow his countdown at this link.
The most recent 1-to-128 ranking I uncovered was posted in early March by Steve Lassan at Athlon Sports (the link). This is what he projected for the local FBS programs.
No. 69 – Western Kentucky. Loves Jeff Brohm and Leon Allen. Worries about replacing Brandon Doughty.
No. 64 – Indiana. Likes Kevin Wilson, halfback Devine Redding and new defensive coordinator Tom Allen. Worries about replacing Nate Sudfeld.
No. 60 – Kentucky. Likes Boom Williams and Chris Westry. Worries about Drew Barker and defensive departures.
No. 20 – Louisville. Likes Lamar Jackson and defensive experience. Worries about breaking through against Florida State and Clemson.
4. WHO’S NUMBER ONE – ON GOOGLE?
There’s always another way to push the Who’s Number One? argument.
The best recruiting class. The nicest stadium. The largest spring football crowd. The most guys in the NFL. The most guys using their cell phones at halftime.
CollegeSpun.com produced one I’d never seen – Which college football program has been Googled most often in the last year?
The winners are not surprising – except for the absence of Florida State, Texas and Oklahoma.
Here is your list:
10. USC; 7. (tie) Penn State, LSU, Auburn; 6. Michigan State; 4. (tie) Notre Dame, Clemson; 2. (tie) Michigan, Ohio State; 1. Alabama.
5. THE FORGOTTEN PITINO ASSISTANT
When you make your list of former Rick Pitino assistant coaches, you start with Billy Donovan. He’s the one with two NCAA titles and a job in the NBA.
Tubby Smith sits high on the list. So do Ralph and Kevin Willard. There is Jeff Van Gundy, Jim O’Brien and Frank Vogel for the work they have done in the pros.
Somewhere down the list you’ll find the guy who has the chance to do something big in college basketball – Marvin Menzies.
He only worked at U of L for two seasons – 2006 and 2007. But he parlayed that stay into a solid nine-season run at New Mexico State that featured five trips to the NCAA Tournament. Now Menzies has become the coach at UNLV.
He was the school’s second (or third or fourth) choice. Menzies knows that. But when Menzies was introduced at UNLV last week, he dusted off the old line that John Wooden was not the first pick at UCLA.
“Bottom line is, I wasn’t the first choice,” Menzies said. “But I guarantee you I was the coach who wanted this job the most out of the candidate pool.”
Let’s see what he can do. Probably less than Jerry Tarkanian or Lon Kruger but better than Dave Rice or Rollie Massimino. Here is a link to a story about Menzies' arrival at UNLV.
6. CANYON BARRY UPDATE
Louisville’s success with Damion Lee and Trey Lewis last season created the vibe that one-year guys can succeed in the U of L program. That vibe ignited talk that Canyon Barry, a graduate-transfer looking for a home after leaving the College of Charleston, would be a perfect fit to become the designated shooter in Rick Pitino’s offense.
Barry, a 6-foot-6 wing, averaged nearly 20 points in 13 games before suffering an injury last season.
But according to this story from the Miami Herald last week, Barry’s next visit will be at the school where his father, Rick, made his name – the University of Miami.
Hurricanes’ coach Jim Larranaga made a recent trip to Charleston to recruit Barry, who, like his father, wears jersey 24 and shoots free throws underhanded. Miami also has considerable playing time to offer after losing three starters.
Barry has visited Florida and might check out Northwestern. He’s a brainy kid, a two-time academic all-American who would like to pursue a masters in nuclear engineering.
7. DEVIN BOOKER GOES DEEP
It seems that making shots from distance is not the only thing that former University of Kentucky guard Devin Booker does well.
The man can also hit a baseball at three-point range.
Ask the folks in Scottsdale, Ariz. Booker participated in a celebrity Home Run Derby with NFL stars Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Terrell Owens and Demaryius Thomas. (Link.)
Booker, who hit four balls out of the minor-league park, even though he said he stopped playing competitive baseball when he was in the second grade.
Look for Booker to blossom into a legitimate star in Phoenix. He finished the season with 99 three-point field goals, second to former Louisville Central star D’Angelo Russell among all rookies.
8. THESE GUYS BELONGED TO THE REDS
A wildcard playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates ended Dusty Baker’s run with the Cincinnati Reds after the 2013 season. The Reds won 90 games after winning 97 games and losing to San Francisco in the 2012 playoffs.
General manager Walt Jocketty and Reds’ fans had seen enough of the guy who worked his toothpick better than he worked his bullpen.
Reds’ fans won’t enjoy this exercise, but fast forward three seasons. Baker and multiple members of that 2013 are having a wonderful little run to start this season.
There is starter Mat Latos, who has won his first four decisions with an earned run average of 0.74 for the White Sox.
There is starter Johnny Cueto, who has won three of his first four decisions with the Giants.
There is relief pitcher Jonathan Broxton, who has been scored on in only one of eight appearances for the Cardinals.
There is outfielder Chris Heisey, who has a pair of home runs and an on-base percentage of nearly .350 for the Nationals.
There is third baseman Todd Frazier, who has five home runs and nine runs driven in for the White Sox.
And there are Baker’s first-place Washington Nationals, who have won 14 of 18 games for the best record in the big leagues.
Go ahead and scream, Jude Redfield.
9. DERBY DANDIES
My guy Lane Gold reports no movement in his top five picks for Kentucky Derby 142. None of the top contenders raced – or had setbacks last week.
So, to recap: 1. Nyquist; 2. Mor Spirit; 3. Exaggerator; 4. Mohaymen; 5. Gun Runner.
“There hasn't been a lot of talk about Mor Spirit, but he's one of the most consistent horses in the race and (trainer Bob) Baffert has been high on him for a while,” Gold said. “His second place finish in the Santa Anita Derby was good and no one knows how to win this race better than Baffert.
“A horse to watch outside the Top 5 is Danzing Candy. Beat Mor Spirit in March and likely didn't care for the sloppy track when he lost to Exaggerator and Mor Spirit earlier this month.”
If you believe you have cracked the Derby code, send your picks to firstname.lastname@example.org.
10. POLL RESULTS
Should universities be able to sell corporate sponsorship logos for jerseys like the NBA will launch next season?
No – 73.3 percent.
Yes – 26.7 percent
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