Tony Vanetti: I think if you want to take a UK football play from Saturday that stands for what UK fans have gone through for decades, it would certainly be the end of the Mississippi State game, with the onside kick.
Matt Jones: Yeah that was sort of a classic UK football play. It was symbolic of Kentuckyâ€™s bad luck over the years. Mississippi State fumbled the ball four times, and they recovered it each time. Kentucky played well enough to be competitive, but probably not good enough to win. And the onside kick, was sort of embarrassing. But at the same time, the problem was that they were perpetually one touchdown behind. They just couldnâ€™t get it.
Vanetti: I watched the game at a wedding with nothing but UK fans. And when that play went off on the TVâ€™s, they all shook their heads and said, â€˜Yeah, thatâ€™s what we do.â€™ But I will agree with you, you hung with the number one team in the nation. Iâ€™m not sure if they look like the number one team in the nation, but they are undefeated and have beaten some really good teams. Patrick Towles is what jumps out at me. Letâ€™s look back to the beginning of the season. When Patrick Towles was announced as the starter, UK fans went â€˜ugh, really?â€™
Jones: I donâ€™t know if I agree with that. I think whatâ€™s most surprising, if you go back to Spring practice, he might have been fourth string, honestly. But he found a way to be the starter, and I think heâ€™s an NFL prospect. Heâ€™s improved in every form. He runs the ball, he can throw it, heâ€™s 6-foot-5, he has a good arm. He really exploded on the national scene now where everybody knows where he is.
Vanetti: He has been the story for the last couple of weeks. Kentucky has a quarterback, and by the way I agree with you. I think he has an NFL skill set. Obviously in college he can tuck it and run it, he wonâ€™t do that in the NFL, but he can stand in there and sling it. Especially when they roll him out and he throws on the run is when I think that offense really gets going.
Jones: Well I think heâ€™s been great. And look, as the whole team goes, that was a case of a game that they just werenâ€™t ready to win yet. But theyâ€™re getting so much better. I honestly believe Kentucky football is on the rise and Louisville football is on the decline. At least in the very short term. I do think Petrino is a good coach, but you look and all of Louisvilleâ€™s best players are upper classmen about to graduate. Their recruiting is not great. Kentucky players are young, and rising. Is it fair to say the two programs are on the path to at some point pass each other, one going up, one going down?
Vanetti: Well I know thatâ€™s what you would want to see, and you give some evidence there. But look at your transfers that came in especially in the secondary that have turned out for you guys. And thatâ€™s what Louisville has coming in next year. If you include some of those transfers from Texas A&M and around the country, from where they got these playersâ€¦
Jones: Thatâ€™s not their issue; their defense is really good all around already. And theyâ€™ll be fine on defense next year. Their issues are on the offensive side. They donâ€™t have a quarterback, and they donâ€™t have a quarterback in the future looking like one. Right?
Vanetti: Well I think itâ€™s a little early to predict their demise. But I will agree with you that Kentucky is on the rise. Thatâ€™s evident.
Jones: Everybody knows that Kentucky is on the rise, but Louisville is on the decline.
Vanetti: No, Louisville is in a transition year; they have a new coach, Matthew.
Jones: Transitioning to what? I want to know what theyâ€™re transitioning to. They donâ€™t have any good young players. Who are they transitioning to?
Vanetti: Let them recruit. UofL are not recruiting gurus by a wide stretch of the imagination.
Jones: But you areâ€¦
Vanetti: I am not sitting here throwing around facts like I know what Iâ€™m talking about.
Jones: Iâ€™m looking at, rankings. Kentucky has had two top 30 recruiting classes in a row, and theyâ€™re about to have potentially a top 20, definitely a top 25. At Louisville, even Charlieâ€™s last recruiting class wasnâ€™t as good as they had been. And Bobbyâ€™s never been a good recruiter. Youâ€™re right, it is worth noting that they have a couple of big transfers coming. But their high school recruits… itâ€™s actually pretty terrible, considering where they are as a program, where their recruiting is. The bottom line though is, they need a quarterback. And I just donâ€™t see one on that roster. Theyâ€™ve got the kid coming in from Florida next year, maybe heâ€™s the one. But what has happened? Why are there no quarterbacks?
Vanetti: Thatâ€™s a great question, you nailed it right there. I donâ€™t agree with you on all of the recruiting nonsense that youâ€™re spewing out at this point, but I do agree with the quarterback situation. Will Gardner is not the answer I donâ€™t think. And Reggie Bonnafon, Iâ€™m not sure can be in the future. I agree with you on that the Miami kid they werenâ€™t even recruiting. That said I want him to be the next Teddy Bridgewater, and he was a nice surprise for their recruiting class. He could be the answer, but heâ€™s going to be a freshman next year. The light at the end of the tunnel for the quarterback position is in the distance, and youâ€™re going to lose your two top running backs after this year and three of your top offensive linemen off an already weak offensive line. Next year, the offense will be worse than it is this year.
Jones: And thatâ€™s going to be fun, because theyâ€™re already terrible. By the time people read this, the game will be over. But will Louisville have beaten Florida State?
Vanetti: I donâ€™t know if we have the necessary quarterbacking to pull the upset. I also know the home town crowdÂ on a Thursday night. Florida State seems to be jacking around in the first half, and then in the second half they blow teams away. They havenâ€™t lost in 23 games. Besides the old fashioned, â€˜theyâ€™re due for a loss on the road,â€™ Florida State should win the game. I know the spread is only five now, itâ€™s been bet down from 8.5.
Vanetti: Well anything can happen. I donâ€™t know if Louisville can do it, but obviously, if the stars alignâ€¦.
Jones: Theyâ€™re going to beat you handily; by two touchdowns. Theyâ€™re going to have to score; youâ€™re not going to convince me that Jameis Winston isnâ€™t going to score. Hereâ€™s another interesting tidbit about the game: itâ€™s going to be really cold. And that may actually be very good for UofL. Itâ€™s actually supposed to be like high 30â€™s on Thursday night. Itâ€™ll be interesting to see how that affects an FSU team not used to playing in that temperature.
Vanetti: I think thatâ€™s legitimate; the only problem is that Louisville is riddled with Florida players all over the roster. So it might be a push. And Tallahassee isnâ€™t the warmest place in the world, but itâ€™s still Florida. I give Louisville a puncherâ€™s chance to win this game on Thursday.
Jones: Yeah, I sort of agree. Letâ€™s talk basketball for a minute. Your coach continues to make the dumbest statements ever. David Levitch is the greatest walk-on in the history of basketball? You know everybody is always great at something in the history of something if youâ€™re Rick Pitino. I watched your red-white game. I think you have three really good players that could play anywhere in the country, in Harrell, Chris Jones, and Rozier. But then, I think you guys are pretty thin after that. Is that a fair reading?
Vanetti: I would say that we have two really good players, we have Terry Rozier, we have Harrell, and then thereâ€™s a little bit of a drop off and then Chris Jones is there. Heâ€™s a really good college player.
Jones: But Rick Pitino says that no one in the country can guard him.
Vanetti: Stop it. You know heâ€™s trying toÂ build up the confidence of his team. This team has a lot of big players. Iâ€™m not sold on Blackshearâ€™s renewal and rebirth. Iâ€™m not sold on that. What I am sold on is that this team is a Sweet 16 team, and if they get lucky on a Sweet 16, they can go farther.
Jones: It looks like he recruited 21-feet of suck with all of those 7-footers.
Vanetti: Kentuckyâ€™s been there too, it reminds me of the three 7-footers you all had.
Jones: But you went worldwide for yours, scoured the earth for untalented 7-footers.
Vanetti: We look for kids who want to actually go to class, and play basketball.
Jones: So, on the Kentucky side with the blue-white game Monday night. Not a whole lot to learn, weâ€™ve seen Kentucky play so much because of the Bahamas trip. I guess the question Kentucky fans are asking is â€˜Will Cal stick to the platooning?â€™ He says he will, but even watching the blue-white game, there are certain guys that are better than other guys. The twins and Karl Towns and Dakari and Willie, those guys are just better than the rest. Do you think that heâ€™ll stick with playing ten guys essentially equal minutes?
Vanetti: No, I donâ€™t think so. I think heâ€™s going to try to do that. I think thatâ€™s the smart thing to do. If youâ€™re looking for a fault on this team, it would be thier potential inability to get five or six guys to really work together as a team. If youâ€™re going to have so many people that are coming in and out… Youâ€™ve seen these teams before that go ten, eleven deep and sometimes it doesnâ€™t work out because you donâ€™t get that chemistry. And you know heâ€™s been criticized for only playing a short, limited number of guys.
Jones: Well, I kind of feel bad for him, no matter what he does, he gets criticized. Heâ€™s been criticized for a number of years for not playing enough guys, and now heâ€™s criticized for playing too many guys. I mean, what the heck do they want him to do? At the same time, I donâ€™t believe heâ€™ll stick with it all year. I think thereâ€™s a couple of guys in the group that are a notch below the top eight, and so I just donâ€™t know that theyâ€™ll play the same amount, Plus youâ€™ve got Dakari Johnson; heâ€™s a lot better. Andrew Harrison is a lot better. Karl Towns might be the first or second pick in the draft. I just donâ€™t know how you donâ€™t play those guys more. But you know I will say this, Cal gets committed to something and heâ€™s stubborn about it. Heâ€™s going to want to do it just to prove to people he can.
Vanetti: Alright, last question. Do you think this is Calâ€™s last hoorah after this year?
Jones: It wouldnâ€™t shock me if it was his last year, but I donâ€™t think it will be. I think if he wanted to go, last year wouldâ€™ve been the year. Heâ€™ll never have a better job offer, than to have coached that Cleveland Cavs team this year. Thereâ€™ll never be a better job offer for him, ever. Because of that, heâ€™s turned that down, and I think in part because he wasnâ€™t ready, and in part because those guys were returning. I think he sort of has made peace with the fact that this is where heâ€™s going to end his career. I do still believe that if they get through this summer, when he finishes this ride, if he comes back the next year, then heâ€™ll be here for the rest of his career. I think Kentucky fans have one more summer to sweat it out.
Vanetti: Yeah, I agree with that. The recruiting class Iâ€™m not sure is going to be as high as some heâ€™s already brought in. If he comes back this summer and toughs it out next year, heâ€™s had two super teams in the past six years, you could have him for the next four or five.
Jones: Which would be awesome, because then Rick will continue to lose year after year. Our basketball teamâ€™s ahead of you, our football team is about to be ahead of you, things are just great in Big Blue Land, and happy Halloween to all of you.
Vanetti: Big Blue Land or Big Blue Fantasy Land, either one.