December 24, /p&tf
77/c (>a/A _A///,\
Conley: Even rulesmakers don't know the rules
Former "Cat says TV has turn ons. turn offs
ONE HAT HAS now officially been thrown into the ring.
That's ring as in "three-ring circus," especially when it concerns the vacant athletics director job
Cats' Pause Columnist
at the University of Kentucky and the whole NCAA investigation of the UK program.
Larry Conley, now a sportscaster for ESPN and formerly one of "Rupp's Runts," has expressed an interest in Cliff Hagan's former position.
"I would talk to them," Conley told a recent gathering of the Kentucky Associated Press Sports Editors in Lexington when asked if he was interested in the UK AD job.
"I have already expressed that to them, but it's hard to say (if! would take it) because I don't know the inner-workings of the problem."
He does know, however, that he's tired of hearing about the investigation.
"I really hope, not only as an alumm and someone who played here, this UK basketball situation gets cleared up soon. I'm really sick of talking about it. You're talking about the best college basketball program, as far as wins, in history.
"THEY DO NT NEED this. And they don't need announcers to step up and say the coach needs to resign."
The last comment was an obvious dig at Dick Vitale, who has called for Eddie Sutton and staff to step down at the end of the season regardless of the outcome of the investigation.
Conley added that, in order to clean up college athletics, the problem should not be addressed by the individual schools.
"You've got to start at a higher level with the athletics directors and presidents who make the rules. Even the rulesmakers don't know the rules," he said.
"All I got (at Kentucky) was what Coach Rupp gave me a four-year education."
Conley, who has been broadcasting for 14 years and now lives in Atlanta, said he wouldn't keep the same job forever.
"I don't intend to stay in this forever. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to do this job."
Anyone who has ever seen Vitale can attest to that fact.
As far as UK is concerned, Conley had little envy for Sutton's position.
"THIS IS THE toughest job in the country bar none," he said, pointing across the street toward Rupp Arena.
But he also wondered aloud about how coaches of big-time programs have become "glamor boys."
"I have a hard time in my mind resolving someone making $200,000 for wearing shoes," he said.
The reference was to Sutton and several other coaches who have large endorsement contracts with shoe companies. Sutton reportedly receives about $175,000 per year for suiting his Wildcats up in Nikes.
Conley also talked about what else TV, specifically college basketball on TV.
"People think the saturation point on college basketball has been reached on TV, but I don't think it has," he said. "Advertisers are lined up to do college basketball. You wonder where it's all . going to end."
Conley said that ESPN will televise 211 games this season, with all of the Top Twenty teams being featured five or six times each
"TELEVISION HAS CREATED a monster in college basketball." he said. "But without this, many women's athletics programs probably would not exist."
Even though he is a former Wildcat, Conley said he doesn't lay off UK when he broadcasts their games.
"I find it hard to believe that a team with 6-10, 6-8, 6-7 players inside can only gamer nine rebounds in a half," he said in reference to the Cats' loss to Northwestern State. "I was critical of them and they deserved it."
As far as the rest of the college basketball world is concerned, Conley had high praise for the Metro Conference and for Illinois.
They've got four solid teams in that league," he said. "And Florida State is no surprise. In George McCloud, their 6-6, 210-pound point guard, they may have the best point guard in the country.
"IUinois may be as good as any team I've seen," he added. "They completely took Florida apart. Illinois may be in the Final Four this year. They're outstanding."
That may be true, Larry, but Lou Henson is still the coach.
IT WAS NT DIFFICULT to ascertain where Kentucky stands in football as far as the Southeastern Conference athletics directors are concerned.
When considering a scheduling shakeup to even-out the schools' annual schedules during the ADs' annual meeting last week, UK was classified among four "have-not" teams.
LSU athletic director Joe Dean said, 'What we're trying to do is have all of the schools in the league play three of the so-called traditional tough teams and two of the so-called have-nots."
The other three, in case you're wondering, were Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.
Currently, the SEC teams play five common opponents every season, with two other SEC teams coming in on a rotation basis to account for the seven conference matches.
WHAT THE ADS want to do is have three "toughies" among everyone's five common oppo-
nents and one "toughie" among each of the two-team rotations. This would mean that of the seven SEC games each season, every league team would play four SEC toughies and three SEC softies.
Dean was commenting on the situation because LSU has only two traditionally tough teams in its common opponents Alabama and Florida. Under the proposal, the Tigers would drop Kentucky and gain its third tough team in Georgia.
While this scheme sounds good on paper, it would not be implemented before 1992 and who's to say that Jerry Claiborne's Cats won't be one of the top teams in the nation by then.
FINALLY, THERE IS some good news for former University of Kentucky star Sam Bowie, who is trying to make a comeback from leg and foot injuries with the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers.
Bowie, who has spent more of his career in a cast than Nikes, was cleared last week to begin practicing without restrictions.
Bowie missed two years at UK with a leg injury, then played just 76 games as a rookie with Portland in 1984-85. He got in only 38 games the next season, due to surgery to repair a defect in his left tibia.
And things continued to get worse. In the fifth
game of the 1986-87 season, Bowie broke his right tibia and missed the rest of the year. Then, he reinjured the leg during warmups before the Blazers' first preseason game last year and missed
It's a general concensus that Sam has Ail-Star potential if he can ever recover from his wounds. Here's wishing him the best, especially during this Christmas season.
I PERSONALLY WANT to thank whoever is most responsible for Jerry Claiborne being given a four-year extension on his contract. It's great and very rare in this day and time for a school to show such great support for a coach with a losing record. But Claiborne's 51 All-Academic SEC players more than pushed him over the top. At age 60, Claiborne will probably be looking to hang it up in a few years. Let's keep him at Kentucky until he does.
Good to have a man like Claiborne around Sam Bowie on his way back, again