A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Jamie Vaught: Despite tougher schedule, Kentucky’s odds for winning 2020 football season look strong

The football Wildcats, who are coming off an electrifying Belk Bowl victory over Virginia Tech in Charlotte, now have posted four straight winning seasons. Will they have another victorious campaign in 2020? I think so, although the schedule may be a little bit tougher. But UK will have some experienced weapons coming back and that helps. In addition, the Wildcats have more talent than in the past...

Jamie Vaught: Just like Coca-Cola’s 1970s marketing campaign, UK football is now the ‘Real Thing’

Like the old Coca-Cola’s marketing campaign back in the 1970s, UK football is now the “Real Thing.” Yes, coach Mark Stoops’ Wildcats are becoming a regular threat in Southeastern Conference battles. They are now winning against the mid-tier conference schools along with a chance to beat SEC (and national) powerhouses like Florida and Georgia. And Kentucky has won against the bowl veterans...

Jamie Vaught: Saturday’s matchup with Georgia Tech gives Cats first big-name opponent in seven games

For the first time in over a month, Kentucky will finally face a big-name opponent in Georgia Tech on Saturday afternoon at Rupp Arena. Both schools are beginning a two-game series with next season’s matchup taking place at State Farm Arena (formerly Phillips Arena) in downtown Atlanta. After going through a series of seven straight home games against the so-called cupcakes, the Rupp Arena crowd...

Jamie’s Bookshelf: More recent nonfiction books to add to your holiday shopping list

(This is the second of a two-part series about recently-published nonfiction books.) By Jamie H. Vaught KyForward Columnist • “The Fall of Richard Nixon: A Reporter Remembers Watergate” by Tom Brokaw (Random House, $27) is written by a noted journalist who was the White House correspondent for NBC News during the final year of Watergate. Published in the 45th anniversary year of Nixon’s...

Jamie Vaught: Combination of Hagans, Maxey and Quickley give Cats one of nation’s best backcourts

Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey and Immanuel Quickley (Photos from UK Athletics) Kentucky has one of the nation’s best backcourts this season, featuring its three-headed monster lineup of guards Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey and Immanuel Quickley. As far as preseason hype goes, Hagans and Maxey had much more attention or publicity than Quickley as they garnered preseason Watch Lists and All-SEC honors....

Jamie Vaught: Calipari set to begin second decade at UK helm; Gators will give Cats a run for SEC title

Yes, it’s hard to believe that John Calipari is beginning his second decade at Kentucky. Yes, it’s been that long since he arrived on campus in 2009 to take over the coveted head coaching job at UK. Despite the constant turnover of “one-and-done” standouts over the years, the 60-year-old Calipari once again is expected to have another very good basketball team in Lexington this winter with...

Jamie Vaught: UK football has tough act to follow, but look for Wildcats to finish 8-4 with another bowl trip

The football Wildcats from Lexington will have a very tough act to follow this fall. That’s after we saw a historical campaign by the 2018 University of Kentucky squad, which came up with the school’s best season in 41 years as the Cats posted a remarkable 10-3 record — including a New Year’s Day bowl victory over Penn State. Kentucky also finished with a winning league mark of 5-3 for the...

Jamie Vaught: Despite key personnel losses from 10-3 team, UK football should remain competitive in SEC

After enjoying a remarkable 10-3 campaign in 2018, including a victory over Penn State in a New Year’s Day bowl, will the University of Kentucky football team continue its winning ways this fall? Yes, but the Wildcats likely will regress some after losing megastars Josh Allen and Benny Snell Jr. to the NFL. UK won’t win 10 games this time, but it should remain respectable with a forgiving schedule...

Jamie Vaught: Latest Pete Rose book brings back pleasant memories of Roberto Clemente jersey

With another book about Pete Rose which came out earlier this month, it brought back a couple of old memories that I have with the former Cincinnati Reds star. One memory took place in 1968 when my beloved Pittsburgh Pirates and superstar Roberto Clemente visited the Reds for a weekend series at Crosley Field. Before going to the ballpark for Sunday’s game, my parents and I went for a breakfast at...

Jamie Vaught: UK’s new recruit, Nate Sestina, can impact game on frontline and perimeter

Nate Sestina, a graduate transfer from Bucknell University, is one of UK’s new faces for the 2019-20 basketball team. But who is Sestina? I wanted to know more about his background. So I did some research by googling and found some interesting articles and tidbits. If you are a hoops junkie, you would already know something about the 6-foot-9, 245-pound forward. He can impact the game on the frontline...

Jamie Vaught: It’s OK to be disappointed by UK’s loss to Auburn, but stop whining about John Calipari

Interestingly, a small bunch of so-called “Monday Morning” coaches in the Big Blue Nation as well as some opinionated media folks have been complaining and howling about basketball coach John Calipari and his favored Kentucky Wildcats for failing to make a coveted trip to the 2019 NCAA Final Four after Sunday afternoon’s heartbreaking overtime loss to Auburn. Sure, we are saddened with the painful...

Jamie Vaught: Despite loss to Tennessee, UK’s road to the Final Four appears promising

Yes, UK’s setback to Tennessee in last Saturday’s SEC basketball tournament thriller was disappointing, but that doesn’t mean the Cats have lost their momentum for the NCAA Tournament. For instance, look at the 2012 Wildcats who were led by freshman superstar Anthony Davis. They lost to Vanderbilt in the SEC tourney final before winning the whole thing at New Orleans. Look at coach Frank Martin’s...

Jamie Vaught: Cal’s gesture an honorable one, Pitino should be recognized for accomplishments at UK

Rick Pitino was nowhere to be seen in the Big Blue Nation last month when UK basketball coach John Calipari reached out to the former Wildcats boss for the celebration of UK’s 1993 Final Four team’s 25th-year anniversary held in Lexington. It was Pitino who took that team to the school’s first Final Four trip in nearly 10 years. But Pitino — who in 1989 took over the Kentucky program in...

Jamie Vaught: Looking ahead to 2019 after ‘Amazing Cats’ add exclamation point to outstanding season

Before New Year’s Day in 2019, like many fans, I only saw ONE great UK football team during my career as a sportswriter. But that statement changed after the 16th-ranked Wildcats ended their stunning 2018 campaign with an exciting 27-24 victory over No. 12 Penn State on Tuesday in a sunny Citrus Bowl in Orlando, finishing with an amazing 10-3 mark, including three wins over nationally-ranked teams...

Jamie Vaught: In UK football history, Sonny Collins comes to mind, says records are made to be broken

When you think of UK football history, you probably would mention former players/coaches like Paul “Bear” Bryant, Tim Couch, George Blanda, Jerry Claiborne, Randall Cobb, and Sonny Collins, to name a handful. And it is Collins who has been getting some attention lately. The 1973 SEC Player of the Year, Collins is currently the school’s all-time leading rusher with 3,835 yards but his career mark...

Jamie Vaught’s Bookshelf: Here are recent nonfiction books for last-minute gifts and your holiday reading

With Christmas closing in, here’s a list of recently-published nonfiction works that you may want to consider as a holiday gift for your loved ones, especially if they enjoy reading.    –Ten Men You Meet in the Huddle: Lessons from a Football Life by Bill Curry (Mercer University Press, $29) is an updated version — a 10th anniversary edition — of the volume that was published...

Jamie Vaught: Sharing memories of former Wildcats coach Joe B. Hall as he celebrates his 90th birthday

As you’ll recall, former Kentucky basketball coach Joe B. Hall recently celebrated his 90th birthday. He is a beloved celebrity in the Big Blue Nation. He was coaching the Wildcats when I was a student at the University of Kentucky back in the late 1970s. And, through my sportswriting career, I have lots of good memories of Coach Hall and interviewed him a few times. I’ll share some of my favorite...

Jamie Vaught: Homer Rice helped break color barrier in UK football, wrote ‘textbook’ on leadership

(This is the second of a two-part column about Kentuckian Dr. Homer Rice who had an illustrious career in football coaching and athletic administration. He also recruited Greg Page of Middlesboro who became the first black football player to sign with UK.) When Dr. Homer Rice was the athletics director at North Carolina from 1969 to 1976, one of his employees was a basketball coach named Dean Smith,...

Jamie Vaught: Kentucky sophomore PJ Washington settling into role as one of the ‘old guys’ for Wildcats

In the one-and-done era, especially at Kentucky, PJ Washington is now considered one of the old guys. Even though the 6-7, 236-pounder from Dallas will be a sophomore, he will be expected to provide some guidance and leadership for UK’s 2018-19 squad which is loaded with a super crop of highly-regarded freshmen as well as a couple of key sophomore returnees Quade Green and Nick Richards. In addition,...

Jamie Vaught: Former Wildcat Bret Bearup an outgoing person who never knew a stranger

Bret “Bear” Bearup was one of the most charismatic UK basketball players ever to wear a Kentucky Wildcat jersey. And it’s still hard to believe that Bear is gone.  I was at my hotel room in Louisville last Thursday evening (May 17) when I learned through social media on my smartphone that he had died suddenly at the age of only 56. Like the faithful fans from the Big Blue Nation, his UK teammates,...