HOOVER, Ala. (WDRB) — Alabama coach Nick Saban used Paul Finebaum’s show to question the commitment of his assistant coaches during preparation for Bama’s jarring loss to Clemson in the national championship game.
Clemson players heard what Saban said. At least one did not like it. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence criticized Finebaum for criticizing the reaction of that Clemson player.
With Finebaum, that’s the way it goes — a bombastic approach that has made him one of the most tracked voices in the Southeastern Conference with more than 626,000 Twitter followers.
Finebaum also has opinions about Kentucky football. While noting that several media gas bags had predicted UK would slip back to sixth place in the SEC East this season, UK linebacker Kash Daniel praised Finebaum for his opinions at SEC Media Days Thursday.
Naturally, I went directly to Finebaum for his take on the 2019 Wildcats. He had less than five minutes after a commercial break before an SEC Network producer pulled him back to the set.
BOZICH: Did you hear that Kash Daniel was a big fan of yours?
FINEBAUM: No. I saw something. But what happened?
BOZICH: Daniel said that nobody wants to see Kentucky football win except for Paul Finebaum.
FINEBAUM: That’s hilarious.
BOZICH: You’re one of his guys. He gave you a shoutout. Have you been positive about them?
FINEBAUM: Yes, primarily about Kentucky. Yeah, years ago I kind of started defending Kentucky, when Mark Stoops was on the bubble because I know the president (Dr. Eli Capilouto) from when he was (in Birmingham).
I walked around and saw what they were doing (with facilities) and I kind of bought in. Listen, how did anyone know whether it would work or not? But it did.
We were at the (Citrus Bowl, where UK beat Penn State, 27-24) last year. I’ve gotten to know Mark (Stoops) moderately well. I’m just a big fan.”
BOZICH: Their view this year is that even after everything they accomplished while winning 10 games last season, people are still picking them sixth in the division.
What do you think of that?
FINEBAUM: I think it’s fairly disrespectful. I’ve had a lot of Kentucky fans call (his radio show) and say, 'Hey, this magazine said this ...'
I don’t think they’re going to be a great team but I think they’re very capable of eight wins. Maybe nine. The schedule is very favorable for an SEC schedule.
And I think Mark has a lot of momentum. I do. I’m glad to hear the shoutout. I think people just don’t understand how much work has been done to build that program, especially from a fundamental standpoint.”
BOZICH: Are people picking against them because of the history of the program? Or do people think Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina have made a jump up?
FINEBAUM: Yeah. It’s just the reputation of Kentucky. It’s almost the opposite of basketball. Where (John) Calipari gets too much credit and people think they’re always going to get there — and it doesn’t seem like he does any more. Now it’s just, ‘Let’s forget that Kentucky has improved.’
Being at that bowl game last year, it was an amazing event, when you think about it. I was around the last time they won 10 games.
The fans, the way they played. The significance of the victory. I don’t think they really did get enough credit.
It’s great that Kentucky fans are getting a chip on their shoulder and are going, ‘We don’t like being treated like that,’ as opposed to saying, ‘Who cares?’
BOZICH: The flip side of the discussion is they did lose Benny Snell, they did lose Josh Allen, they did lose Mike Edwards. They lost some very talented players.
FINEBAUM: “Of course they did. But not to sound like a coach here, but those guys were developed. I think that is the thing that Stoops is doing very well. He’s got a lot of good coaches on that staff.
They’re going out and identifying players and they’re making them into better players. I think that’s how you build. Listen, I’m not sure I would have bet on this six or seven years ago. It seemed like a very long, arduous process. But I’m really glad it happened. And I hope Kentucky fans will keep being angry and players will keep feeling disrespected.”
BOZICH: Last question: Where did you pick them in the SEC East?
FINEBAUM: “Fourth. Right there with Missouri.”
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