xt700000077g https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt700000077g/data/mets.xml Wildcat News Company 1990 Volume 15 -- Number 11 athletic publications  English Wildcat News Company Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. The Cats' Pause UKAW University of Kentucky Men's Basketball (1990-1991) coaches Pitino, Rick Smith, Tubby Sendek, Herb players Brown, Dale University of Kentucky Football (1990) Curry, Bill assistant coaches Lewis, Walter statistics schedules Cats' Pause Combs, Oscar The Cats' Pause,  November 10, 1990 text The Cats' Pause,  November 10, 1990 1990 2012 true xt700000077g section xt700000077g Dale Brown commits to UK page2     Oscar's bac
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In my book Bill Curry's 'Cats are undefeated
Hey, folks, I'm back!
After writing more than 500 consecutive columns for The Cats' Pause dating back to the first issue in September of 1976, I had often wondered how it would feel to take a week or so off and not have to write the weekly story.
My friends, you won't hear me complain again. Having been away from this computer for the past two months, I'm more than delighted to be pecking away once again.
Before we get to the serious business of talking UK sports, let me just say there's absolutely no truth to the rumor that the current football team put me in the hospital back in early September.
Yes, it's true I experienced some strong pains on the day of the Central Michigan-Kentucky game and that I was admitted to Good Samaritan Hospital the day after UK's less than impressive victory.
And yes it is true that just two days after UK was shocked by Rutgers I underwent triple bypass surgery on my heart. And yes, I did ride right past Commonwealth Stadium without stopping as thousands of fans were filling the stadium for the Indiana-Kentucky game a week later.
But folks, I have to believe I've been watching a different Kentucky team than most of you. Why? Well, Kentucky, according to our most recent issue of TCP enjoys just a so-so 3-5 mark as the Wildcats head into the homestretch with little hope of a winning season.
This may be the picture most of you have been viewing, but I've obviously been watching another team. You see, the Wildcats I've seen in person are undefeated with a perfect 3-0 mark. (Doctors permitted me to attend the Miss. State and Georgia games if I promised not to get too excited. Actually, I left the press box with three minutes left in the Georgia game but I sneaked through a tunnel and caught the final two minutes.)
With Vanderbilt coming to town this week, even the most cynical fan would have to admit the 'Cats' chances of picking up their fourth victory are pretty good.
That would give Kentucky a 4-0 mark with yours truly in the pressbox. After the Wildcats take care of the Commodores, those skeptics obviously will be snickering as the big, bad Florida Gators journey north.
No, I have no plans to return to the hospital that day. What I'm counting on is for our good friends in Georgia to destroy the Gators' confidence Saturday (like they usually do this time each year) and have the Gators primed for an upset. Besides, I hear the weatherman is going to bring us some unusually cool weather for the sun worshippers. And then, you've gotta believe.
After that comes good ole Tennessee on the same day that UK officials somehow managed a scheduling boo-boo with Rick Pitino's 'Cats opening at home against Pennsylvania less than three hours after the football Wildcats collide with the Vols
in Knoxville. That's going to make for some mighty stiff speeding tickets from those Tennessee cops who love to run their citations quota up in late November every other year.
Now if I were the ever-loving guy who emphasizes UK basketball at the expense of neglecting UK football, I'd just say it's impossible to be in two places at once and that the Wildcats' opening basketball game takes priority over the gridirion.
Such a decision would preserve my undefeated season football record at 5-0 (yes, UK will shock the Gators; and save me from the likelihood of a heart attack in the midst of a 60-0 bombing at the hands of the Vols. And I would get to Rupp Arena very early.
But if this recent little trip to a couple hospitals taught me anything, it taught me to do what's right and never give up. I wouldn't miss this game for anything.
Even my ole good buddy Haywood Harris, the longtime sports information director and now assistant athletics director at Tennessee, sent me a real nice card and said he was looking forward to visiting with me Thanksgiving weekend.
With an invitation like that, how could I not be in Neyland Stadium, for what will turn out to be one of the greatest Kentucky upsets in history? Just you wait and see. I know I'll be there and still make it back to Rupp Arena, even if it takes a blue car with Tennessee State Patrol stripes painted on the side.
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Speaking of the season since we last visited with you, there is little question it has been a disappointing one to most everyone, especially for coach Bill Curry and his staff.
This was a club most projected to be stocked with enough talent to go 7-4 on the season and a post-season bowl. Early losses to Rutgers, Indiana, North Carolina and Ole Miss killed those chances, but there has been definite progress in recent weeks.
Actually, the loss to LSU probably was as big a disappointment to me as any of the season. The Tigers were primed to be knocked off, but UK's inability to spring the upset shouldn't be taken so bitterly. Kentucky has a reputation in Bayou Country as always playing the Tigers close, but coming away without a cigar.
More disappointing than just the won-loss record is the fact the SEC obviously is down this year.
Had Kentucky been of the caliber we thought a few months ago, the Wildcats very easily could be 6-2 or even 7-1 right now. But this is why the games are played.
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There's no way of estimating how important Kentucky's last minute come-from-behind victory over Georgia will be to the current team, or for that matter, the future of the Kentucky program.
With that victory, UK has the oppor-
tunity to build a modest two-game SEC winning streak and if the 'Cats should beat Vandy, they just might believe they can play toe-to-toe with Florida. Remember what Tennessee did to the Gators? -
Football is such a game of emotions, both high and low, and Kentucky has already experienced enough of the latter this year. When the final seconds ticked off the clock two weeks ago, you would have thought Kentucky was playing a Top 10 team with a post-season bowl at stake.. Neither was the case, but the reality of a come-from-behind victory over a tradition-rich football program like Georgia was more than enough satisfaction.
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As the football season winds down (and by the way, don't close the books on this season until UK is hit with its sixth loss), Rick Pitino has his hoopsters gearing up for the winter campaign and fans are going to be excited with this crop of youngsters.
So far, freshman Jamal Mashburn has been the talk of the town and the young ' New York prepster should have an immediate impact on the SEC as well as the UK program.
Pitino's goals include improving on last season's 14-14 mark, but that in itself would be a remarkable achievement.
Many automatically expect 18 to 20 wins. Before such a thought sweeps through your mind, consider that Kentucky must play Cincinnati, Indiana, Louisville and North Carolina on the road as well as Notre Dame in Indianapolis and Western Kentucky in Louisville.
Of all those games, don't expect UK to be the favorite in any except Western. There could be four or five losses right there. Last season, UK won only at Florida in the SEC. At home, UK was undefeated in the SEC.
When you take all this into consideration, you realize it's going to be pretty doggone tough to improve on a perfect 9-0 mark at home in the SEC. Okay?
Now where is Kentucky going to win on the road in the SEC? Obviously, it's going to be much tougher to win at Florida. The odds are even greater at LSU, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Auburn and Mississippi State. And the 'Cats will be underdogs at Vanderbilt and Ole Miss. That leaves zero.
That would make a 9-9 conference mark. In non-conference games, Kentucky figures to be the favorite with Penn, Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee-Chattanooga. That leaves a home game with Kansas in a contest where either club could be the favorite. If UK should win all the Rupp Arena non-conference games plus the Western game and lose the other non-conference games, UK would be 5-5 going into the SEC.
You now can see where the Wildcats will have to overachieve this season, perhaps just to match last season's
record. But then we've all learned not to underestimate Rick Pitino's coaching, and a 20-victory season would have fans dancing in the streets.
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By this time next week most of the nation's top prep seniors will be commiting to various colleges during the early November national signing period.
It appears UK's recruiting efforts will continue right on through next spring and to be perfectly honest about it, this second signing group for Pitino has been both good and bad.
The bad news first is that most recruiting experts around the country are saying UK's signees won't rank anywhere in the nation's Top 10. Most are saying that Kentucky has been forced to deal with second level recruits after finishing second on several top ones.
Now the good news.
The good news is that the next full crop of signees Rick Pitino will ink will be next November in Year No. 3 of the Rick Pitino era. And that's the timetable all the experts forecasted in prediciting when UK would be able to once against compile a recruiting class in the nation's Top 10.
A couple of weeks ago even Pitino casually alluded to the return this winter to live television on a national basis and its positive effects on recruiting. Kentucky was prohibited from being on television last season, except tape-delayed.
Pitino says it's not only important to be on national television, but it's important for the televised games to be played at Rupp Arena where recruits can feel the excitement of the Kentucky fans and how the players respond to the crowd.
Prep underclassmen all around the nation will see plenty of the 'Cats this winter as every single game will be on television of some kind with several scheduled for ESPN, CBS and ABC.
UK officials say they are considering a switch to play all September home football games at night in future years. In the past, only October games which have been scheduled during the local Keeneland race meet have been played at night. UK officials say the move is being considered because of the hot temperatures in September and that UK has amassed an amazing record during night games at Commonwealth where UK hasn't lost a night game since 1986. They say there is no connection with the switch and WHAS Radio, the 50,000-watt Louisville station which broadcasts both UK and UL games. UL home games generally start at 4 p.m., and when UK games start at 1:30 p.m., they are replayed on a taped-delayed basis late at night. By playing at night, fans farther away could pick up the games on WHAS live although they could hear them tape-Please see OSCAR COMBS, page 27 &7i& (jots'
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When Walter Lewis was in his early teens, the address on his mailbox said he lived in Brewton, Ala.
But on Autumn Saturdays, though his body was still right there in Brewton, Walter's mind was miles awayhe was Archie Griffin of Ohio State, racking up yardage on the way to one of his two Heis-man trophies; or he was Ricky Bell of USC, scoring a TD against Griffin's Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl.
Walter was playing Little League football then, and as he says now: "I was kinda in my own little world."
Some years later, long after the lure of Ohio State and USC had passed and he was putting the finishing touches on one of the finest careers ever for a quarterback at the University of Alabama, Lewis was still in his own little world. A world he shared with some of the great names ever to call signals at the CapstoneKen Stabler, Bart Starr, "Broadway" Joe Namath,  Richard Todd, Jeff Rutledge, Scott Hunter and Harry Gilmer.
When Lewis finished his four-year career (1980-83) at Alabama, he had racked up 5,690 yards of total offense (1,433 rushing, 4,257 passing), still the best in Tide history. His junior year, in 1982, Lewis completed 102 of
by TCP associate editor MIKE ESTEP
164 passes (62.2%), the best single-season percentage in school history. In his senior season, in 1983, Lewis set the single-season total yardage mark with 2,329yards (338 rushing, 1991 passing). His 1991 yards through the air that season still ranks third in school history for a single season. Lewis is currently the No. 2 career passer in Tide history behind Scott Hunter, having completed 286 of 504 passes (567%) for 4,257 yards and 29 TDs. An engineering major, he was Academic All-SEC in 1981 and 1983, All-SEC in 1983 and ninth in the 1983 race for the Heisman that went to Mike Ro-zier of Nebraska.
Following a brief pro career, Lewis returned to Alabama as running back coach in 1989, then followed Bill Curry to UK in that capacity.
In the following Q&A, which was broken into two separate interviews because of time considerations, Lewis talks about his playing days at Alabama and his relationship with legendary coach Bear Bryant, UK's "Big Back" offense, gives a thumbnail sketch of each of his Wildcat running backs and discusses the future of Kentucky's backfield, in terms of redshirt freshmen and recruiting:
The first part of the Lewis Q&A, which follows, took place immediately after Kentucky's 17-15 homecoming victory over Mississippi State Oct. 13:
The Cats' Pause: You were the last quarterback to play for Bear Bryant. What kind of significance does that hold for you? What kind of man was he to play for?
Walter Lewis: I think with me and coach Bryant, our relationship.. .what I really liked about him was he was fair in handling me in my particular situation. He knew what to do at the right time with me. And that was a big plus for me. I appreciate him for that, and him as a coach.
TCP: You were a part of two big wins for coach Bryant. First, you came off the bench to quarterback Alabama to the last two touchdowns in the come-from-behind win, over Auburn of all teams, that gave Bear his record-setting 315th win. What was that like?
Lewis: It was kind of, I guess, a dream come true. When Alabama was recruiting me they said, "Hey, you may be the quarterback that throws the winning touchdown pass to break that record." I had thought about that, but not to that extent. And that actually happened in that game. From that standpoint it was a plus. I really enjoyed that. Getting out there and working hard, and seeing the guys really pull together and try to win that thing for him, that was a big thrill for me, too, as a team. There are a lot of memories. Linnie Patrick making the great run. Then having the opportunity to throw the pass. Because I wasn't playing well that game at the beginning. I came along and made the play when I had to make it. It was a very happy time for me.
TCP: You were also at the controls for the 21-15 win over Illinois in the 1982 Liberty Bowl, Bear's last game at Alabama.
Lewis: Yes, I had an opportunity to be a part of that. It was a very emotional time. Couldn't even hardly talk the whole game. I gave an
interview after the game and I couldn't even articulate anything. A lot of players that were leaders came forth and said things prior to the game that really touched my heart. The electricity of it is something that I'll always remember. I think we really pulled together as a unit, because we had experienced a lot of adversity during that year. Those are memories that stick with me about that particular game.
TCP: You see a lot of film clips on television of coach Bryant presiding over practice from that tower he had and giving those great pep talks in the locker room. What kind of inspiration has he been to you and what do you still carry around with you from your time with him?
Lewis: Coach Bryant was a fundamentalist. He really believed in fundamental things in football. Just preparing for this game today, I was sitting back there by myself and I just starting thinking. I said, "How would coach Bryant...how did he prepare for his games?
Lewis talks things over on the sidelines with Wildcat receiver Steve
Phillips,        photo courtesy UK sports information department
What were the things he did to get himself ready?" And I was thinking about that. Then coach Curry asked me a question: "What did coach Bryant say to y'all in certain situations before a game?" I said he'd say, "Expect the unexpected. Be surprised. Always know the time. Always know the situation you're in." Things of that nature. That's what I related to him. And that fact, having an opportunity to play for coach Bryant, those things come back to me and they help me to coach and help me to get my guys ready.
TCP: At that time, when you were still playing, did you think down the line you might want to be a coach?
Lewis: I didn't think along those lines. Because I was learning so much. At that age you're learning and exposed to so many things. I wanted to be able to share those things with my friends and people that I played with that were younger than me and what have you. I always felt like I could coach, you know. I 77ie (Date' &cui&&
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those type things. I was kinda in my own little world.
TCP: Like a lot of the UK players that you are coaching now, you underwent a coaching change when coach Perkins came in and replaced coach Bryant when he retired before your senior season. What's that like as a player when a new staff comes in?
Lewis: Sometimes you have resentment because you're used to a groove and you don't know what to anticipate. 1 was there with coach Bryant and I wanted things to be in a structure like he had and stuff like that. I wasn't ready to change because 1 felt like we were really getting into the niche of things. I fell like I was beginning to master a certain offense and then it was going to be taken away. I went in there to challenge him (Perkins). You know. "Show me what you're all about." He did that and, hey, I forgot all about the other stuff. I got excited about what wc were doing. Once you give that a chance, then the transition is easy. But you have to be willing to do that.
TCP: Now you're the coach in that same situation. What has that been like?
Lewis: Same deal. I put myself in a situation that coach Perkins was in: "Show me what it is that's going to make us a good team." I've had to do that with my players. And that's helped me deal with them, too, to understand what they've been about.
TCP: What kind of pro career did you have? I know you played with Memphis in the USLF, Montreal in the CFL and New England in the NFL.
Lewis: I had a chance to play two years in Memphis, a half a year in Montreal and a year with New England. My pro career was up and down. There were a lot of instances where circumstances were uncontrollable. I couldn't control the circumstances. It didn't go the way I had wanted it to go. I had some fun. but still, it just didn't go the way I had planned it to go.
TCP: How did you go from playing with New England in 1987 to coaching at Alabama in 1989?
die of anything?
Lewis: Well, I was kind of caught in the middle of certain situations. I won't go into any great detail. One has to decide for himself what he wants and what he wants to partake of. I was supportive of coach Curry while he was at Alabama and I'm very supportive of him while he's here. I believe in what he's trying to accomplish, and that makes all the difference in the world. There were some things with my family that we wanted to experience in the coaching realm. We had an opportunity to come to Kentucky and do it.
TCP: Were you given the option of staying at Alabama?
Lewis: I didn't give 'em a chance to (ask me to stay). I knew what I wanted. 1 knew what I wanted and I decided to come up here before they even had a chance to ask.
Lewis says he tells his backs that he can only point them in the right direction, they have to take over from there...
TCP: You were used to winning at Alabama, both as a coach and a player. You come up here to Kentucky where they're not used to winning that much. What are some of the contrasts between Alabama, where they expect to win, and Kentucky, where the* only hope to win?
Lewis: They're not winning all the time at this point. I think there's an air about football down there that's different from here. And it comes through tradition. There's definitely a tradition there. We feel like that can change
...and that's exactly what Al Baker, left, and Terry Samuels have done in recent weeks.
photos by Mark Cornelison
photo by Mark Cornelison
customed to doing that. But once you learn that you can grow. There's a big thing with that about coach Curry. That's