Catlett sets bad example with recent comments

File this one under the headline "What was he thinking?"

Actually, we're not sure Ballard football coach Mark Catlett was thinking when he made some very strange - and some false - claims about Louisville's Bobby Petrino in an interview with Lonnee Demaree of the Kentucky Sports Report.

Catlett, a University of Kentucky graduate and former assistant coach for the Wildcats - and apparently publicly open in his support for the Wildcats - criticized Petrino for not "bending over backwards" to charm high school coaches in the commonwealth, further stating he'd never seen the Louisville coach at Ballard - the Cardinals signed Bruins star Earl Heyman last February, a player UK recruited intensely. Asked by Demaree why he thought Petrino hadn't gone out of his way to ingratiate himself with coaches throughout the Commonwealth, Catlett - unbelievably - stated, "I just don't think he's all that personable."

Are you kidding me?

First, Catlett must not remember Petrino's presence at Ballard the night Heyman received his U.S. Army All-America honor. Not only was Petrino in attendance, but he was standing in close promixity to Catlett during the ceremony honoring Heyman. Quick, someone send Mark Catlett a photo of Louisville coach Bobby Petrino for future reference...

Petrino - 2-0 against UK - has the
Wildcats number.

Further, Louisville assistants Greg Nord and Kevin Wolthausen practically camped out at Ballard during Heyman's recruitment, visiting the school as often as NCAA rules allowed. Maybe they do things differently in Lexington - actually they do (I seem to recall money-orders sent not many years ago from one Kentucky football assistant to one Memphis Melrose High School coach to secure the services of one future NFL defensive tackle), but why should Bobby Petrino "bend over backward," to placate folks like Catlett, whose obvious agenda is to help steer his own players away from Louisville and toward Lexington? Wouldn't Petrino's energy - and effort - best be spent making in-roads with high school coaches who aren't dead-set against sending their top prospects to Louisville?

Here's what folks like Mark Catlett and Lonnee Demaree still don't seem to understand; The University of Louisville is the dominant college football program in this state. Sure, Kentucky supporters can blame their plight on probation, or Claude Bassett, or Rich Brook's inept and boring offense. Those are all fair explanations why the Wildcats finished just 2-9 last season while losing to Ohio at Commonwealth Stadium. But to think a measely five win season will turn the tide in this in-state rivalry - particularly in terms of recruiting - doesn't make much sense.

The fact is, Louisville has been the better football program for a long time. Since 1990, Louisville's accomplishment's on the gridiron dwarf Kentucky's. Besides winning five of the past six games between the two schools, the Cardinals have become a post-season fixture, playing in bowl games in each of the past seven seasons; Kentucky's played in just two. And while winning seasons - and Top 25 rankings - have become commonplace around the Cardinal football complex, Kentucky has enjoyed just one season above .500 - a season that saw UK's Mitch Barnhart run head coach Guy Morris out of town - since Tim Couch left for the NFL following a 7-5 campaign in 1998.

For Catlett to claim the 6-4, 265-pound Heyman wouldn't have chosen Louisville 10 years ago - the Cardinals were beating Kentucky then, too - simply doesn't have the ring of truth. In fact, it smells like sour grapes. In all likelihood, if somehow the clock could magically turn back a decade, it appears certain Heyman would have made the same decision that local stars Chris Redman, Ibn Green, and Lavell Boyd made during the mid-1990's - to stay at home and build Louisville into a consistent winner. Heyman himself seemed to confirm that on national signing when he admitted that "I didn't really consider anyone else. I was a Cardinal at heart since I was a boy and now I get a chance to play for them."

Seems pretty clear to me.

If Catlett and Demaree really want to change things for the better in Lexington, I'll offer some free advice. Stop worrying about Louisville, and begin looking for ways to fix Kentucky's problems - and there are plenty. Instead of making - and reporting - ludicrous statements about Louisville's coach - and recruits - these two blue-bloods should be looking to solve Kentucky's ineptitude on offense - and defense.

Catlett did get one thing right, though. Not every player from the Commonwealth wants to attend U of L.

UK's problem? The state's top prospects don't want to play in Lexington, either.

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