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Posts from January 2014

Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself..

Honest question, how many people can name your local sports anchors? What about radio? Who’s the local guy that you can turn on in the car?
 
A rising problem that lies with journalism is that across the country, some broadcasters and writers don’t know how to efficiently establish a distinctive social media presence. They don’t relate to or connect with the people that they expect to be listening, watching, or reading their content.
 
The young talent coming through the pipes and progressive broadcasters realize driving engagement through community driven efforts in local markets and generating interaction on social media for a more broad appeal have now become a cornerstone of what it takes to survive in this cutthroat industry. We want to engage our viewers, listeners, readers and Twitter followers, and we do that by branding ourselves and finding our niche audience.
 
The ability to understand social media and utilize it in an effective way to create a relationship with your audience is becoming something that you must do to separate yourself from the pack. Social media allows journalists to connect with their followers and friends in a way that drives cohesion and creates a unique brand for that individual.
 
As of the 29th of January, I’ve begun my first advertising campaign on Twitter. This campaign is about expanding my reach and awareness. I’ve had a solid pop in my followers thus far, and that’s why I’m writing this memo:
 
To those of you that followed me recently, I appreciate it. Be it through cold following (essentially cold calling in sales) or the campaign’s reach, you are now reading what I write in 140 characters and the links to creative pieces like this.
 
Some of you will find that I’m someone that you would meet as a complete stranger in the grocery store or sitting in a seat next to you at a sporting event and we’d immediately hit it off. Similar likes, similar interests, similar personalities.
 
However, you can’t connect to everyone and I may not be your guy. People share different perceptions and beliefs and everyone’s opinion should be heard, but sometimes we tend to disagree with others. If you come to find that we wouldn’t mesh on a personal level or that you don’t like what I’m laying down, no love lost. Cut your ties and move on, that’s just business.
 
Having said that, here’s what I ask of you (hey, if you’re still reading this far down, I’ve got you in my crosshairs).
 
I want to know what kinds of things you’re interested in. I want to know who your teams are and what region you’re from so I can always be vested in something that you care about. What would you like to see more of on your timeline? What are people not covering that you want them to cover? What do you want to be reading from me?
 
This was a campaign that ran all over the United States, not just in my current residency in the state of Kentucky. I’ve received new followers from the Lexington and Louisville markets, but I’ve had an influx of national followers and I’m on your guys’ hot seat.  
 
So tell me about yourself. Take 5 minutes to send me an email and let me know the kinds of things you’d like to see more of. If you’re talking about it, I want to know about it and drive conversation.
 
I’m a well-mannered, driven, progressive young man and I want to build my platform. Instead of a statistic, I want to know you and invite you to join me in dialogue. I’m grinding between “I want it” and “I’ve got it,” and these kind of innovative practices are the things hopefully I’ll reflect on later and attribute to the latter statement.
 
New followers, email me your interests and city locations at bennytomp18@icloud.com, and we’ll get the engagement train rolling and the national network growing.
 
Ben Tompkins is an intern and contributing writer for WLXG ESPN Sports Radio 1300. Follow him on Twitter @bennytomp18 and like his page on Facebook, Benny & The Jets.
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'Till the (recruiting) battle is won

Kentucky football has just won its latest off-the-field battle, snagging top recruit Matt Elam off of Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide. Today at John Hardin High School numerous media members gathered to hear the 6 foot 5, 375 pound, offensive tackle make his college decision.

Elam was originally slated to make his decision during the Army All-American Bowl, but decided to take some extra time and move his announcement closer to National Sign Day. With less than a week until NSD, Elam picked up a Kentucky helmet (yes helmet, not hat) off the table and choose to stay in the bluegrass and play for Mark Stoops and the Kentucky Wildcats.

Elam is now a part of what can easily be considered one of the most prominent and highest ranking football classes to ever commit to Kentucky. 247 sports still lists them at #20 nationally, but still #9 in the SEC. While Bama really wanted Elam, they still remain sitting atop the rankings at #1.
Per Rivals.com, Elam is the #5 player in the state (counting Kentucky QB Drew Barker). ESPN gives him 4 stars and lists him at #26 nationally for his position and #3 overall in the state.

Elam said just after committing that, "I feel like UK will definitely make a come-up, but things aren’t going to change quick. I don’t have this perception of just things changing as soon as I get there. Because we’re still going to struggle, but that’s the only way to go to the top, because as you see at programs like Auburn and South Carolina, they struggled in their programs and stuff. So I feel like definitely UK can get to the top one day. It may not happen next year or the year (after) that, but it’s going to happen.” You can read his full statement here.

Stoops is set to have 28 signees on Wednesday rounding off Stoops’ and Co. first full recruiting class. 

Photo by Kyle Tucket of the Courier Journal

Lyndsey is an intern for WLXG and a contributer to ESPN 1300. For more of her opinions and work follow her on twitter @lyndseygough 

 
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People : Drew BarkerMark StoopsMatt ElamNick Saban




 

UK Hoops Backs Pat

Kentucky and Tennessee are sworn rivals on the court, but off the court Kentucky is joining with the rest of the SEC to support a cause. UK women’s basketball coach Matthew Mitchell and his wife Jenna’s foundation “The Mitchell Family Foundation” will be donating $2 form each ticket sold for tonight and Sunday’s home games towards The Pat Summitt Foundation.

“Coach Summitt has impacted so many lives in a positive way,” Mitchell said. “Jenna and I wouldn’t be in the position we are today without Pat Summitt. Please join us as we help Pat continue to make a positive impact on the lives of people dealing with Alzheimer’s.”

The basketball team will be battling on the court, but helping in a bigger fight against Alzheimer’s during these games. The Cats play tonight at 7:00 p.m. ET in Memorial Coliseum against Alabama and Sunday 1:00 against Arkansas.

“We want to help fight this horrible disease and the Big Blue Nation can help us by buying tickets to our next two home games or if you already have tickets, just show up!” Mitchell said. “We hope to sell out Memorial (capacity 8,000) on Thursday and Sunday and be able to donate over $30,000 to the Pat Summitt Foundation.”

The SEC puts on the “We Back Pat” week, which brings awareness to Alzheimer’s disease, but also brings recognition to former Tennessee women’s coach, Pat Summitt. UK will be wearing “We Back Pat” shooting shirts during warm-ups for both nights.

Tickets are still available and can be purchased through UK athletics. Donations can also be made to www.patsummitt.org.
 
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People : JennaMatthew MitchellPat Summitt




 

Shermanating the Sherman Haters

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks
Last night, my brother and I were having a conversation about how we both felt about Richard Sherman’s post-game interview. He didn’t mind it and neither did I and we shared our insights with each other. I had a couple of takeaways that I wanted to add some perspective on, so turn that thing down while I issue my statement:
 
Now, if you know me, you know I’m a gentlemen that likes to place wagers (stand by for Benny’s Picks next college football season). But with that being said, I’d be willing to bet my portfolio that the people saying the most extreme things on social media had no prior knowledge of Sherman’s background to seeing that interview. Some didn’t even know who he was. Let’s just hope Duck Dynasty’s Phil Roberts wasn’t watching, A&E can’t afford to take another public relations napalm strike.
 
So for the racists and uneducated, pay attention and at least try to sound knowledgeable as you take shots a man that you label as a thug. You tag Richard Sherman as what you believe to be a thug based on common stereotypes and misperceptions and lack of education. You see a man that is accomplishing things that you’ll never be able to and you despise him for it.
 
But I guess that’s just the motion, right? Sherman expresses the confidence he holds in himself as an individual, and people slap him down for it? We preach to the youth to pursue their goals -- chase the American Dream, be successful -- and work harder than anyone else to achieve them, but once they’ve hit a certain status, envy causes us to lash out and attempt to discredit their achievements.
 
It’s ironic really; those of you that are trying to defend your conviction and brand Sherman as a “hoodrat” are nowhere near his level of intelligence -- and U.O.E.N.O.
 
Let’s start with the fact that at his high school, Dominguez High School in Compton, California, in addition to being an all-star athlete in two sports (football and track), Sherman earned a 4.2 GPA and graduated second in his class, per Ty Schalter, an NFL national lead writer for Bleacherreport.com.
 
Or how about the fact as Tweeted by Scott Enyeart, a former USC/Pac-12 football reporter and host of the Seahawks 12th man podcast for Sports Radio KJR 950am in Seattle, Sherman scored a 1400/1600 on his SAT and held a 3.9 GPA while starring as a D-1 athlete in college?
 
But never mind the fact that it was Stanford, or the fact that as Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead reported, Sherman has started and is actively pursuing his Master’s degree in communications, or that he’s a regular contributor for Peter King’s Sports Illustrated website, the Monday Morning Quarterback
 
No no no people. Let’s speak from timeless prejudices and judge a book by its cover. Let’s allow our deepest insecurities to surface and speak based on fear and ignorance. Let’s see who can look the most clueless or get ignored the most on Twitter by Sherman, and paid attention to the most by Deadspin.
 
Beyond the external feature barrier, let’s examine your argument at the individual level that people shouldn’t run their mouth and be disrespectful.
 
You can’t say you’re the best.
 
Why the hell not?
 
Would we condemn Steve Jobs if he had said he was the best innovator of technology? What if Warren Buffett was to say, “I’m a financial guru,” would we be upset? Or although it would be unlike his personality, if Peyton Manning said, “yeah, I am the best quarterback in the league,” would people argue?
 
I’ll never understand why some people raise an issue when a top performer in their field or industry tells others to take notes. Sherman’s stats make his bite equally as lethal as his bark. He’s got the numbers to justify his self-established role as the “best cornerback in the league.” And as Michael Smith and Jemele Hill would say, numbers never lie.
 
Sherman was targeted only 58 times during this past regular season. With his league leading eight interceptions, Sherman’s 13.8 percent interception rate was 4.4 percent better than the second best (Logan Ryan, 9.40 percent), according to Michael Salfino, a sports reporter for the Wall Street Journal. His eight interceptions also tied his 2012 campaign, a season in which he was target 28 additional times.
 
Come on people, enough is enough. When a guy walks into the league and earns first team all-pro twice in his first three seasons, ties for second most interceptions in his second year and is leading the league by his junior season, isn’t he justified to speak similarly to Jerry Maguire’s animated client, Rod Tidwell?
 
But people want him to adhere to how they think he should act. Richard Sherman’s response didn’t fit the criteria of people that hold others to unrealistic or racially coded standards. Conservative patriarch guy thinks he’s a disgrace to the game and pom-pom waving Michael Crabtree fans wish harm upon him.
 
To the anti-Sherman demographic, what you’re telling me is that if you’re in Sherman’s cleats and you make the biggest play of the game, in the biggest game the season has yielded, in an emotional rivalry with a history of animosity between you and your opponent, and you get a microphone shoved in your face 30 seconds after the passionate win while sound record setting cheers from your 12th man swirl around you, that you’re going to be calm and collected?
 
That’s what happens when you feed a hot mic to a young, testosterone driven male immediately following an intense, defining moment that landed his team in the Super Bowl. What can you possibly expect?
 
That’s the dialogue he’s supposed to be having with a teammate that runs up to congratulate him, or a coach that attempts to celebrate with his players. When he can’t even catch his breath and he’s already having reporters burst his bubble, what do you want from the guy? He’s going to be amped up. If you stick your hand in the flame, you’re going to get burned.
 
The other thing you have to realize is that talking is what fuels Sherman’s fire.
 
David Shaw, head coach at Stanford University, acknowledges the fact that Sherman likes to chirp and that’s just how he’s wired. He’s a semi-frequent guest on The Herd with Colin Cowherd, and Monday, January 20, Colin used a soundbite of a previous interview with Shaw while discussing the type of player Sherman is.
 
“He is the most competitive human being you’ll find,” Shaw said. “He is ultra competitive, he pushes himself extremely hard, he expects the world from himself — and part of that is his talking. Talking keeps him at the top of his game.”
 
I enjoy directing attention to narratives that aren’t being told or are sometimes swept under the rug. I believe in transcending and progressing through outdated stereotypes and pumping the breaks when a bunch of Twidiots spout their hate Tweets. As for Richard Sherman, he believes in judging a man by all of his actions, not just some.
 
“To those who could call me a thug or worse because I show passion on a football field — don’t judge a person’s character by what they do between the lines,” Sherman wrote in Monday’s column on MMQB.si.com. “Judge a man by what he does off the field, what he does for his community, what he does for his family.”
 
Ben Tompkins is an intern and contributing writer for WLXG ESPN Sports Radio 1300. Follow him on Twitter @bennytomp18, Instagram @bennythekid01, and like his page on Facebook, Benny & The Jets.
 
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Ex-Cats Tamme, Trevathan, Woodyard to play in Super Bowl XLVII

Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos
When the Broncos and Seahawks meet up on February 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, three former players from the University of Kentucky will be playing for a ring.
 
Denver’s 26-16 win on Sunday over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots secured a Super Bowl berth for ex-Cats Wesley Woodyard, Danny Trevathan and Jacob Tamme.
 
A defense led in tackles all season by Trevathan, and leadership by Woodyard, the Broncos were faced with a tough task on Sunday after eliminating the San Diego Chargers 24-17 the week before.
 
Bill Belichick and the Brady Bunch were rolling into Mile High Stadium seeking to send their quarterback to be the first in league history to play in six Super Bowls, but the former Kentucky players led a defensive frontier that bent and didn’t break until the Patriots finally scored their first touchdown with 9:26 left to play in the fourth quarter.
 
Trying to battle back from 23-10 Denver lead at that point, the Patriots would only score once more before the final seconds ran off the clock. Sticking to the script that was written all year, Trevathan continued to lead the way for the Broncos defenders as the former Kentucky standout recorded eight solo tackles in the win over the Patriots.
 
Through Denver’s two playoff wins, Trevathan has combined for 11 assisted tackles and 12 solo, continuing to add to his regular season and league’s 11th best total of 129. Although this was his first year starting week in and week out, and only second in the league, Trevathan’s team leading tackles and interceptions, three, make a strong argument that he could return as one of next year’s premiere linebackers.
 
Seen rallying his teammates while Peyton was busy leading his electric offense down the field, Wesley Woodyard’s performance in the game solidified his role on Denver’s team as not only a defensive force, but a motivator of men. Woodyard’s two tackles in the AFC Championship raised his 2013-2014 campaign to 86 tackles on the year, adding an interception and two forced fumbles along the way.
 
We’ve heard, read and talked about Trevathan and Woodyard all year long, but Sunday, there was another ex-Cat that reminded viewers of the NFL that UK doesn’t always send players to the national football league, but when they do, they make big plays at big times.
 
Staged at the goal line midway through the second quarter, as Peyton dropped three steps and scanned his progressions, he found a sitting Jacob Tamme that ushered in the first touchdown of the game.
 
Tamme, who throughout the season played a lesser role in Denver’s offense behind Julius Thomas, amassed 154 yards and a touchdown on 20 receptions. Coincidentally, his only touchdown of the year was scored during the Patriots and Broncos week 12 meeting when the Broncos fell in Foxboro, 34-31.
 
As February 2 draws closer and the anticipation builds up, Trevathan says it’s just another day on the job.
 
"We aren't going to do anything different,” said Trevathan to Patriots.com. We're just preparing and staying within our realm. Just getting excited and getting motivated to go out here and try to put together a good 60 minutes.
 
"I'm just ready to go. It's another game, it's another opportunity for me to play the game that I love and be out here with my dogs."

Ben Tompkins is an intern and contributing writer for WLXG ESPN Sports Radio 1300. Follow him on Twitter @bennytomp18, on Instagram @bennythekid01, and like his page on Facebook, Benny & The Jets.
 
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EKU Upsets Belmont

The Belmont Bruins have had quite a year with the basketball in the Bluegrass. Kentucky blue isn’t the only reason this Belmont team burst into the national spotlight. Carolina blue, in fact, got this team some attention when they upset the Tar Heels November 17 in Chapel Hill, 83-80. The beat Brescia 102-68 nine days later.

Their next Kentucky encounter was December 21 in Rupp Arena versus John Calipari’s Wildcats. The Cats took that one 93-80. The Bruins go 4-1 after their loss to Kentucky, meanwhile Carolina takes down both Louisville and Kentucky and Louisville loses to Kentucky.

Eastern Kentucky University had also beat Brescia and in-state rival Morehead State but lost to in-state rival Murray State. The Colonels did manage to upset, you guessed it, Belmont, 73-64 at home. The two face off again in Nashville on January 25.

Its no secret that basketball in Kentucky is more than just a game, but this season the talent seems to be stretched further than the miles between Lexington and Louisville. 
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Benny's Picks Season Recap

The BCS National Championship came and entertained us all, but now it's time to face a harsh reality: no more football for a while. Florida State's epic comeback against Auburn was a perfect ending to the 2013-2014 college football season, but more importantly, it was a perfect ending to my freshman year of picking college football games against the spread.
 
The bowl season was a strong finish for Benny's Picks. Of the 35 bowl games played, I placed my picks on 27 teams (I picked my games after the first few bowls had begun), and won on 20 of them. 20-7 was my bowl record and I couldn't be more pleased to end an above average regular season with a guru-like bowl stint. 
 
With the bowl games added to my regular season record (44-33), I wrap up the season sitting at a pretty 64-40 and a .615 win percentage. When I first started picking these games and writing these weekly predictions, I didn't realize how much time I'd be spending looking at different factors that play into the bottom line: can a team cover or not? Picking games against the spread can be challenging, but it certainly is rewarding.
 
After opening the season with an unimpressive 1-4 week, a friend of mine told me that my picks were a joke. I laughed it off and told him not to judge my picks after my first week but after the season ended. Now that it has, my numbers speak for themselves. And you know what? It feels nice to sit back, smile, and calmly reply, "jokes on you my brotha."
 
Ben Tompkins is an intern and contributing writer for WLXG ESPN Sports Radio 1300. Follow him on Twitter @bennytomp18 and like his page on Facebook, Benny & The Jets.
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Benny's Picks: Bowl Ball Bonanza

It’s the most wonderful timeeeeeee, of the year. Excuse the tardiness of this edition of Benny’s Picks, but if we’re being honest here, it’s hard to motivate myself to put the time and research in for teams like Buffalo, Tulane and ECU. So forgive me for releasing these spread winners after a few of the bowl games have already been played.
 
Through the regular season, your boy went 41-33-2, ending the season with five straight winning weeks. I’ve won two games thus far into the bowls with Oregon State and Marshall kick-starting what I hope will be a strong finish to a great first season of picks against the spread (ATS). Note that these picks ATS do not necessarily deem my pick as the winning or losing the team, just the team that covers the spread. So scrounge up some pocket change and let ole’ Benny’s Picks make your money some money.
 
Wednesday, December 24, 2013
Hawaii Bowl: Oregon State -4 WIN
 
Friday, December 27, 2013
Military Bowl: Marshall -3 WIN
Texas Bowl: Syracuse +4 WIN
Fight Hunger Bowl: Washington -4 WIN
 
Saturday, December 28, 2013
Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers +14 WIN
Belk Bowl: Cincinnati +3 LOSS
Russell Athletic Bowl: Louisville -3.5 WIN
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Kansas State -4.5 WIN
 
Monday, December 30, 2013
Armed Forces Bowl: Navy -6 WIN
Music City Bowl: Ole Miss -3 WIN
Alamo Bowl: Oregon -14 LOSS
Holiday Bowl: Texas Tech +14 WIN
 
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Advocare V100 Bowl: Boston College +7.5 WIN
Sun Bowl: UCLA -7 WIN
Liberty Bowl: Rice +7 LOSS
Chick Fil-A Bowl: Duke +12.5 WIN
 
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Gator Bowl: Nebraska +9 WIN
Heart of Dallas Bowl: North Texas -6.5 WIN
Capital One Bowl: Wisconsin -1.5 LOSS
Outback Bowl: LSU -7 LOSS
Rose Bowl: Michigan State +6 WIN
Fiesta Bowl: Baylor -17 LOSS
 
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma +17 WIN
 
Friday, January 3, 2014
Cotton Bowl: Missouri -1 WIN
Orange Bowl: Clemson +3 WIN
 
Saturday January 4, 2014
Compass Bowl: Houston +3
 
Sunday, January 5, 2014
Go Daddy.com Bowl: Ball State -9
 
Monday, January 6, 2014
BCS National Championship: Florida State -8.5
 
Ben Tompkins is an intern and contributing writer for WLXG ESPN Sports Radio 1300. Follow him on Twitter @bennytomp18 and like his page on Facebook, Benny & The Jets.
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Charlie Strong to be Named Head Coach at Texas

Bobby Burton, a contributor for 247sports.com, tweeted late Friday night that Texas will be naming Charlie Strong their next head coach. Horns247 was the first to report the news.
 
The news comes fresh after Louisville’s 36-9 blasting of Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl, and confirmation that quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will enter the 2014 NFL Draft.
 
Through four years at Louisville, Strong held a record of 37-15, finishing his last two seasons at 11-2 and 12-1, and coached the Cardinals to a bowl game each year during his tenure, most notably his 33-23 win over Florida in last year’s BCS Sugar Bowl. Coach Strong was 3-1 in four bowl games. 
 
Best of luck to Coach Strong. 

Ben Tompkins is an intern and contributing writer for WLXG ESPN Sports Radio 1300. Follow him on Twitter @bennytomp18 and like his page on Facebook, Benny & The Jets.
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DeVante Parker Announces Decision to Return

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Louisville fans are breathing a sigh of relief today with the news that Athletic American Conference 1st team wide receiver, DeVante Parker, will be returning for his senior season.
 
Parker announced his decision on his Twitter account, simply stating, “I will be back for another year.” In December, Adam Himmelsbach of the Louisville Courier-Journal had reported that Parker’s grandfather, Willie, had said if his grandson was not projected to be a first round draft selection, then he would be staying at Louisville. Today confirmed that the man they call “Talented Young 9” will be back in red and white next season.

A campaign that led all other Louisville receivers in yards and touchdowns, Parker established himself as the Card in Teddy Bridgewater’s back pocket when he needed a score or first down. The 2013-14 season saw the local Ballard High School native compile 885 yards and 12 touchdowns on 55 receptions, all career-bests for the junior.
 
Throughout his three years in The Ville, Parker has seized 113 strikes from the air, compiling 1,920 yards and 28 scores. Entering next season as first-year ACC (not to be confused with AAC) members, Parker will seek to take the first spot atop the Louisville record books in receiving touchdowns as his 28 are four away from sole possession of the lead.
 
With Bridgewater, Damien Copeland and Calvin Pryor having declared to leave for the NFL draft, and coach Charlie Strong in the midst of Texas rumors, Parker’s decision to return for his senior season is certainly good news for Card Nation.
 
Ben Tompkins is an intern and contributing writer for WLXG ESPN Sports Radio 1300. Follow him on Twitter @bennytomp18 and like his page on Facebook, Benny & The Jets.
 
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