Why roll the dice?

Tony Vanetti: Let’s jump into football recruiting. We have two stories, obviously. Louisville and their recruitment of Devonte Fields and Kentucky’s recruiting class, which is basically falling apart. You’ve had what, seven or eight decommits in the last week or so?

Matt Jones: First of all, a month and a half ago it looked like Kentucky was going to get a top 25 class and Louisville’s recruiting was in the dumps, and it’s kind of flipped. Louisville has kept their top guys, Kentucky has lost their top guys, and Kentucky is now probably gonna end up ranked about 40th and Louisville about 35th. I think they’re two separate issues. One is that they’ve finished the recruiting class and Louisville has certainly finished much stronger than Kentucky. I’m not really sure what happened with UK. I think just the fact that they couldn’t get the sixth win and then Damien Harris going to Alabama. Tony, it’s just been a downhill slide since then. And the problem is you’ve got eight months before you can play a game again to turn the momentum around.

Vanetti: Could there be an underlying issue of rumors, because let’s be honest, recruiting in football and basketball can be a nasty, nasty business. Could there be a rumor that has affected Kentucky?

Jones: I think there are a couple things. One, it was a lot easier the first couple years because they were recruiting on what they did at Florida State. They could say “Hey, you see what’s happening at Florida State? That’s gonna happen at Kentucky.” Well after a couple years you have to recruit at what you’ve done at Kentucky. So that makes it a little harder. What the second thing is, Kentucky is just recruiting a higher class kid now and they’re getting stolen by great programs. So when Joker [Phillips] was here, Kentucky would recruit guys from Ball State and you didn’t have to worry about Ball State taking them. Now you’ve recruited guys for whom you’re not the first choice. And so I think that is the new reality for Kentucky. In the future do they roll the dice at these top level kids? They had a lot of top level kids and they’ve lost them to Auburn, Ohio State, Florida State. Those are the best schools in the country. That’s probably the reason. Kentucky’s been going after the kind of kid that they didn’t used to go after.

Vanetti: You know, I don’t tend to worry about the fall recruiting stars. In basketball they nail it pretty close on how good guys are and how many stars they deserve. They miss every once in a while. In football they miss all the time.

Jones: You’re exactly right. I still would take my chances with a class full of four stars than a class full of two stars, but you’re exactly right. If Kentucky lost a cornerback to Auburn but then took a cornerback that had been previously committed to Auburn, who’s going to end up better, Tony, who knows?

Vanetti: Right, so Louisville’s going to add a bunch of JuCo guys which is what they say is not going to be an annual thing, they need to fill some spots now. Louisville loses a lot of starts from last year in offense and defense, so they’e bringing in the JuCo guys plus adding some true freshmen in there also. Who knows who will see the field? It’s so hard for a JuCo or a true freshman to see the field. That’s why I don’t get excited about football recruits. If you’re great, it’s a full year before you see the field and if you’re good it’s two or three years before you see the field.

Jones: You’re right and that’s true with every position except running back, every other position you’re exactly right. I think the biggest story for Louisville is the decision to take Fields. That’s a kid with a domestic violence conviction and some of the facts of it are not good. I’m not mad or upset about taking that kid, I think that’s just what Bobby does, honestly – he did it when he was here last time and he does it now. I find it as an amazing change from Charlie Strong, who I respected for essentially not doing that. What do you make of it?

Vanetti: Again, the domestic violence, we all know has blown up since last year, and it should be a front page topic for folks to file in and say, “Hey, let’s get a hand on it.” Personally, I’m 45 years old, I’d like to say I’ve never even heard of a domestic violence. I’ve never had a friend that’s hit his wife or his girlfriend and I certainly haven’t. This is all sort of new to me. I don’t really deal with that sort of domestic violence but apparently it’s very prevalent throughout the United States and for some reason with NFL players and high profile individuals that can’t seem to control themselves. With this individual, I don’t know. I don’t think you need to go there. That was my opinion on the radio show and that is my opinion in this column, you don’t need to go there. You’ve got enough talent on the team. Bobby is a really good coach with two and three stars. This guy (Fields) is really good and that’s where it all comes into.

Jones: I totally agree with you. You don’t need to do it. Louisville football is not Kentucky basketball, but a few years back Kentucky basketball considered Tony Woods, a kid that had a domestic violence thing at Wake Forest, and so did Louisville by the way, and he ended up going to Oregon and at the time I said “listen, no offense to Tony Woods but Kentucky and Louisville, they don’t need to worry about Tony Woods.” And some Kentucky fans got upset at me but it’s the truth, they didn’t need to worry about that. I feel kind of the same way right here. Louisville is a good program, Bobby’s a good coach. You’ve got this whole redemption angle and all this, so why bring this kind of scrutiny to your school, and the only answer is they just don’t care. Louisville can do anything and everybody will accept it and it’s the first time they’ve got some pushback on it, they’re still gonna take him. People will probably forget about it next week, but it does show a lot of hootspa to do it.

Vanetti: Well if he keeps his nose clean, if he keeps his act together and he gets 12 sacks, the story will always follow him. They think it will go away but say he’s at Florida State next year with a two sack game, you know the announcers are going to tell the story again.

Jones: That’s true. That’s a good point, if he’s good it will actually come up more.

Vanetti: That’s right, because Michael Dyer was running all over the Seminoles in the first half of the football game and they kept restating his story. That’s just where it is right now. They brought the kid on campus. I wish him well, I wish the coaches well and I hope it all works out.