BOZICH | Monday Muse: U of L-UK football recruiting split decision; Pervis Ellison's son rising
Which program has a stronger 2017 recruiting class -- Louisville or Kentucky? Brent Musburger's final ride. Ranking Louisville as a football city. Time for the Monday Muse.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Bigger football event this week:
The Super Bowl?
Or College Football National Signing Day?
Yes, the Super Bowl, which will air on WDRB Sunday, is the signature moment on the national sports calendar.
But this is a college football town, not a Patriots' or Falcons' town. I've heard the recommendations that National Signing Day should be at least a regional holiday in college football towns. (Until the NCAA eliminates it before next season, which another story.)
Please vote in the poll attached to this story. If you're part of the movement that has helped grow the Monday Muse, you know I punctuate my 10-item rundown with poll results from the previous week.
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1. Better Recruiting Class – Louisville or Kentucky?
This should be fun. Which staff is doing better work assembling the players that will lead Louisville and Kentucky to the 2020 College Football Playoff?
Advantage, Mark Stoops.
Actually, make it advantage Bobby Petrino.
Actually, let's fuss about it.
The Wildcats' incoming class is ranked ahead of the Wildcats by two major scouting services -- Rivals and 247Sports.
But the ratings certainly are not unanimous because Louisville's class is ranked 23rd nationally at Scout. That is nine slots better than Kentucky. And Louisville has a slight edge with ESPN.com (Timeout. Less than 90 minutes after I posted this column, Scout moved Louisville's class to No. 20 nationally after Toryque Bateman, an offensive lineman who measures at 6 feet 8 and 300 pounds, committed to Louisville Monday. That moved U of L ahead of Clemson in the Scout rankings.)
Overall, the numbers could not be much tighter.
You be the judge.
Scout scores it Louisville 20, UK 32.
Rivals makes it Kentucky 24, U of L 27.
247Sports also tilted toward UK -- 27 for the Wildcats, 30 for the Cards.
At ESPN.com, it is essentially even -- Louisville 27, Kentucky 28.
Add the numbers from all four services and divide by four. The average ranking for Louisville is 26. For Kentucky, 27.8.
Play on -- through the final whistle on Wednesday.
2. Malik Ellison On The Rise
Pervis Ellison introduced himself to college basketball as a freshman, leading the University of Louisville to the program's second national title 31 seasons ago.
Malik Ellison, Pervis's son, has been slower to develop. Don't look for St. John's in the 2017 NCAA Final Four. But Ellison has started to play like a guy capable of lifting the Red Storm into the middle of the pack in the Big East. He won't make the NCAA Tournament this season, but 2018 and 2019 are in play.
Malik is a sophomore wing. At 6 feet 6, he's several inches shorter than his father, who became the first pick in the 1989 NBA Draft.
Malik is a late-bloomer who was known as a point guard in high school. Ellison signed with Chris Mullin before last season, averaging 7.3 points but shooting less than 37 percent.
Check Ellison's numbers over the last five games. He's led the Red Storm past Providence and DePaul while taking Xavier to the wire -- with 61 points, 10 steals and 15 assists. He made five shots from distance against the Blue Demons.
Malik's mother, Timi, was also an outstanding athlete, starring in track at Maryland.
3. Josh Pastner – ACC Coach of the Year?
Nobody picked Josh Pastner as the coach of the year frontrunner in the Atlantic Coast Conference, especially the people in Memphis.
Pastner delivered seven seasons of mostly meh as John Calipari's replacement in Memphis. Yes, his teams won nearly 70 percent of their games. But the Tigers missed the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons and never advanced past the Round of 32.
Guess whose team has victories over Notre Dame, Florida State, North Carolina, Clemson and VCU?
Mr. Pastner, who is going to shake his tag as great recruiter, so-so coach if this continues at Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets are merely 13-8, so they have work to do to stick in the NCAA Tournament field. But Tech leads Duke and Miami in the ACC race. They're on the road this week with Clemson and Wake Forest -- and Tech is 1-3 in road ACC games.
For a guy whose team was considered a lock to finish 13th or 14th in the ACC before the season, Pastner has to be enjoying the ride as well as the $1.255 million that Memphis paid him to go to Atlanta after last season.
4. Brent Musburger Rides Away
Tuesday at 9 p.m. in Rupp Arena will be more than just a Southeastern Conference basketball game matching Georgia and Kentucky.
It will be Brent Musburger's farewell to play-by-play announcing, his final game before Musburger retires to Las Vegas to open a sports gambling service.
You likely remember Musburger as the voice of an endless string of sports events, from the NCAA Final Four to the NFL pre-game show on CBS to national championship football games on ESPN to the Little League World Series.
Musburger, Keith Jackson, Pat Summerall and Dick Enberg were the voices of sports for several generations. The sound of Musburger's voice, especially his trademark, "You're looking live ..." introduction, communicated that a big game was underway.
But I remember Musburger for his byline. He was Mr. Print before he was Mr. Microphone. I grew up reading his stuff -- first in the Chicago American and later in Chicago Today.
Musburger outlasted both newspapers. Along with Will McDonough and Lesley Visser of the Boston Globe, Musburger was on the first wave of writers who made a successful transition to television.
You can argue that he made the most successful transition.
Musburger, 77, is great pals with ESPN Hall of Famer Dick Vitale. I asked Vitale to summarize Musburger's career:
"An icon and legend in broadcasting and an even better friend. He will never ever be forgotten in our business.
"It's been an honor to sit next to him over the years … Always have loved calling games with Brent. He had a special gift to bring unique excitement to the broadcast."
Thanks for the memories, Brent.
5. Bye Bye 2 A Days?
I'm actually starting to believe the folks who run college football are getting serious about player safety.
Not only has there been increased attention to head injuries, the American Football Coaches Association as well as the NCAA Football Oversight Committee are on board with a report that recommends eliminating two-a-day football practices as well as reducing contact during the week. (The link.)
I can remember a world when coaches ordered three practices a day during August to build toughness and team chemistry. Water was only available during limited practice breaks. Head injuries were something you ignored or shook off and went directly back into the game.
We're getting there. The end of two-a-day practices will help.
6. One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six Alabama Players in First Round of NFL Draft?
Another round of applause for Dabo Swinney of Clemson.
Cut the man another bonus check.
Make certain everybody reminds Swinney of what he accomplished when the Tigers took down Alabama in the 2017 college football national championship game.
Why do I mention this three weeks after the college football season ended?
I have started looking at the mock first-round choices for the 2017 NFL Draft – and the place is packed with Alabama players.
The latest mock that I uncovered includes six Alabama players in the Top 23 picks.
And Alabama lost to Clemson?
Who coached that team anyway?
Not Dabo Swinney.
7. Another List to Make You Angry
Silly lists exist for many reasons. One is to include one silly list in another silly list.
That's what I am doing today. It's Super Bowl Week. The folks at WalletHub.com were convinced that one way to celebrate the moment was rank the Top 244 Cities in America for Football Fans.
Louisville did not fare well.
You’ll find the 502 ranked Number 107.
That’s at least 50 spots lower than I expected.
Somehow, Wallet Hub ranked Richmond, Ky., Durham, N.H., and Normal, Ill., ahead of Louisville, but placed Louisville ahead of Iowa City, Tempe, Ariz., and Austin, Texas.
If you're taken your blood pressure medicine, you can read the entire list at this link.
8. Sam Travis – Bound for Fenway?
I would not recommend being the guy who follows David Ortiz with the Boston Red Sox. Not at designated hitter. Not at first base. Not in the race to become a Fenway favorite.
Sam Travis could be that guy.
Sam Travis was half of the Bash Brothers that former coach Tracy Smith assembled at Indiana University when the Hoosiers pounded their way to the 2013 College Baseball World Series. The other half was catcher Kyle Schwarber, who earned a World Series ring with the Chicago Cubs last fall.
Travis, a first baseman, will likely start the 2017 season in Triple A. But he's definitely on the Red Sox radar -- with an intense work ethic that even the ESPN web site in Boston has noticed. (The link.)
9. Poll Result I
Which power program would you like to see miss the 2017 NCAA Tournament?
Michigan State, Tom Izzo 34.4 percent
Syracuse, Jim Boeheim, 33.9 percent
UConn, Kevin Ollie 16.7 percent
John Thompson III, Georgetown 14.9 percent
10. Poll Result II
Which team is most likely to be a Number One NCAA Tournament seed?
Villanova 47.6 percent
Gonzaga 24.6 percent
Kentucky 14.2 percent
Louisville 13.6 percent.
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