OSCAR L. COMBS
CATS' PAUSE EDITOR/PUBLISHER
Results are in from recent TCP questionnaire
The long-awaited readers' reaction to the Kentucky basketball program's ongoing battle with the NCAA is here and today you'll be able to read just what fellow subscribers of Tlie Cats' Pause think of the investigation, the current status of the UK program and opinions on just how many of the UK officials have conducted themselves over the past few years.
Over 600 subscribers responded to the survey, a number which totally overwhelmed us and caused us to delay publishing the results for a week due to the huge volume of paperwork.
Quite frankly, we didn't expect the questionnaire to attract such a dramatic response. Because so many of you went to such great lengths to explain your feelings, we felt obligated to present as much of your viewpoint in print as possible.
Thirteen pages of this issue of TCP are devoted to the questionnaire, with the full survey being printed in the special inset section starting on page 15.
Before you begin, we'd like to remind you that this is not a scientific poll with all the safeguards of accuracy within a plus or minus three points, like ail the majors television networks and newspapers proclaim.
What this poll intends to portray is just a sampling of over 630 sports fans who happen to be subscribers to this publication and who took time to fill out an 18-question survey and mail it back to us over the past three weeks.
We took precaution to make sure there was no ballot-stuffing. Only 28 ballots were copies with most commenting they did not want to damage their TCP by removing the page.
Since complimentary copies of TCP are circulated around the administrative offices of the UK athletics department, all those copies were coded. None were returned in the survey.
All but 20 of the ballots came from mail subscribers of 7CP.
Readers weren't bashful about their identity either.
Only 34 ballots were returned to us unsigned. Another 12 were returned signed, but with the request not to reveal their identity. We honored those requests. However, at no time did we quote a comment unless the reader permitted us to use his name with the comment.
Only a few comments were ruled inappropriate for publication. About a dozen comments questioning some people's personal lifestyle were judged as unacceptable for reprinting.
The poll is not intended to say Kentuckians feel a certain way about any of the issues. But we believe it does provide a good barometer on the feelings of the typical UK fan. After all, our subscription list contains mostly sports fans who follow UK.
There will be time when the total percentages will add up to either 99 percent or 101 percent. There is no error. Because percentages are rounded off, the total sum can be off one or two percent.
Also, in regard to one particular question concerning UK assistant Dwane Casey, there appears to be an error because the total number of responses to the question of whether or not you believed he put $1,000 in the Emery Freight package.
The reason why there are more responses to that question than than to the number of "yes" replies in the previous question asking if you believe if there was $1,000 in the package, is because there were some people to vote no to No. 8 although they didn't vote at all in No. 7.
It should be noted that about 85 percent of the ballots were returned to us before UK athletics director Cliff Hagan resigned. You might want to take that into consideration when reading the results and comments of certain questions.
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"Home, sweet home."
Those have to be the sweetest words coach Eddie Sutton and his Wildcats could hear after opening the season with five games away from the friendly confines of Rupp Arena.
When the 'Cats lift the curtain for the first time in Rupp Arena Wednesday against Northwesteni (La.) State, it will signal the beginning of a five-game homes-tand for the homesick Wildcats.
I say homesick because the 'Cats have wobbled back home with a 2-3 record on the heels of a disappointing 81-65 loss to Notre Dame in the Big Four Classic last Saturday in Indianapolis.
Rupp Arena will certainly be more friendly than the likes of the Hoosier Dome where the 'Cats and Sutton were greeted with boos. There will be no "Kentucky Cheats" signs hanging from the rafters like the one at the Hoosier Dome either.
It'll be time for the UK family of fans to welcome the 'Cats back. Whether or not the welcome will be unanimous remains to be seen.
After a third-place finish in the Great Alaska Shootout a week earlier, there were those who believed the 'Cats might be on the right track. But all that came to a crashing halt with one of Kentucky's worst performances in memory against Digger Phelps' Irish.
Be that as it many, no one could serve up a better "healing prescription" that what lies ahead. After Northwestern State comes Western Carolina Saturday and then the annual UKIT next weekend, which includes Arkansas State, Marshall and Bowling Green. Even Indiana at home on Dec. 20 might be beatable if the Hoosiers play as they did against Louisville last Saturday.
So it's possible Kentucky can put together even a six-game winning streak with a victory over Austin Peay in Louisville on Dec. 27. Crazy, I am, you say? Well, it could happen if the 'Cats regroup and play up to their potential.
Any of the six are as winnable as they're likely to be lost. A six-game streak
Don't look for any signs like this one at Rupp Arena this week
would put UK's record at 8-3 and give the 'Cats a real shot at avoiding the dreaded losing season more and more basketball experts are talking about these days.
But for the Wildcats to get on the right track, it'll certainly take a great deal more effort than they put out Saturday.
Without LeRon Ellis and Chris Mills playing to their potential, the 'Cats don't have a prayer. And when UK is playing decent opposition, they'll have to rely on more help, coming from either Reggie Hanson, Deron Feldhaus, Derrick Miller, Sean Sutton or John Pelphrey.
They were all missing in action against Notre Dame. That leaves only scholarship players Richie Farmer and Johnathon Davis, a pair of freshmen who obviously don't fit into Sutton's plans for the season.
Kentucky most assuredly will get well with a pair of victories this week, but two wins in the UKIT won't come as easy. Arkansas State will be tough, but only after the second semester begins when it picks up a new player.
Marshall could be the surprise in the field. Rick Huckabay's Thundering Herd have been making big noise in the Southern Conference the past three years and you can bet they're licking their chops for a shot at the Big Blue.
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There's still no word on the status of a contract extension for UK football coach Jerry Claiborne, who is now in the last year of his current contract as head coach.
It's highly unusual for a school to allow a coach to enter the final year of his contract unless it has intentions of not renewing it when it expires.
Kentucky is coming off its fourth consecutive non-winning season, but Claiborne has fulfiled, to the "T", the criteria set forth by UK president David Roselle when he arrived here about a year and half ago.
In fact, Roselle was once quoted he would be satisified with a 5-6 year, if the coach ran a clean program and graduated his players. Claiborne gets an A-plus on both scores.
Unless Roselle acts soon, though, you
can expect UK's recruiting to be hurt because other schools which recruit against UK will use as a weapon the uncertainity of Claiborne's future in Lexington.
Just last week, the Southeastern Conference announced Kentucky and Vanderbilt tied for the lead in Academic All-SEC football players. Kentucky has tied or led the league four of the last five years.
But Claiborne is still waiting for that vote of confidence.
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This is from one of those "I still don't believe it" chapters.
Jock Sutherland, the self-proclaimed agitator of UK basketball, says "it ain't so, Joe."
To, of all people, Joe. And not as in "Shoeless Joe Jackson" either.
Prior to the Big Four Classic in Indianapolis last Saturday, Jock walked up, admitted he had been displaced as UK's No. 1 enemy by television commendator Dick Vitale and then uttered words I thought would never, ever escape his infamous lips.
"You'll never hear me say another negative word about Joe B."
Huh? What? Is the world coming to an end?
"We ran into each other in Nashville before the Louisville-Vanderbilt game (Hall was scouting for his role as ABC-TV analyst Saturday) the other night and had a great conversation, about an hour long," confessed Sutherland. "You know, I really like the guy now.
"I sorta bumped into him on the floor during a practice and then walked on because we haven't been the biggest of buddies. A few minutes later, Joe walked over and we went up into the stands and talked for a hour. Man has a lot of class. Why, the way I treated him, had I been him, I would have walked over and punched me in the face."
Added Jock: "Nope, you'll never hear me say another bad word about Joe. He's all right."
And as if it was too good to be true, (Continued on page 38)