LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Mark Stoops made official what everyone has known for a while: University of Kentucky All-American running back Chris Rodriguez will miss the Wildcats' football season opener against Miami (Ohio) on Saturday, though Stoops declined to say that Rodriguez is suspended for a DUI offense in the offseason.
But it is something else Stoops refused to discuss that figures to take center stage for Kentucky, even as it prepares for a highly anticipated season, with its first preseason national ranking since 1978. Now, though, the program will be dogged by questions over multiple players being declared unavailable, perhaps for multiple games.
Stoops revealed that Monday at his regular game-week news conference but would not say what players would be out, the expected length of their absences or the nature of the reasons for their absence.
The coach thanked the media present for respecting the rights of the players involved. He did acknowledge that the status of the players was in the hands of university administrators, as well as the coaching staff.
"I've been in tune to this situation for a while," Stoops said. "I haven't been withholding. It's just things change. ... Things evolve, things change. Information comes and goes. There's different layers to things. That means there's multiple different entities involved. I prefer not to dig anymore into it. I'm not withholding anything. I've been pretty in tune with what I felt like things were going to happen, but I have bosses and they have bosses and so on."
Investigations are all well and good. But Kentucky, in this case, also needs to respect the rights of the public, and the fans who support the program.
It's hard to imagine another SEC program announcing multiple players being unavailable without even identifying the players involved.
Stoops said he might have more to say next week, but in the meantime, the school's decision not to list the players involved will cast doubt on anyone who misses this weekend's game. And in the absence of hard information, rumors will swirl.
The school certainly can respect the rights of players and still identify them, without going into details of what now appears to be an investigation of multiple football athletes.
Kentucky opened as a 20.5-point favorite over Miami. The line by Monday afternoon was down to 16.5 points.
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