Protect and Survive: The Last Game

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Lexington, Kentucky, United States of America

The second largest city in the state of Kentucky, Lexington is modest in size compared to most American cities. It has its share of wealth, largely from the horse industry, but that is not what it is best known for.

Lexington is in many respects a college town, home to the state's flagship university: the University of Kentucky, member of the Southeastern Conference, and one of the elite men's college basketball programs in America.

1,356 victories.

36 Southeastern Conference regular season championships.

28 NCAA Tournament appearances.

26 Sweet Sixteen appearances, 16 in the Elite Eight.

Eight Final Four appearances.

Five National Championships.

All good things must come to an end, but all bad things can continue forever. - Thornton Wilder
February 13th, 1984

Kentucky 67, Florida 65, at Rupp Arena.

The last home game for the Kentucky Wildcats until...

Three- to four hundred students organized an impromptu peace march, starting from the UK campus and finishing in front of the mayor's office downtown...

"Kenny, I'm going home."

The university president refused to close the campus, despite increasing calls from students and their parents to suspend classes...

"My God, Coach. They're really going to war."

"The Southeastern Conference says it will follow through with its slate of games scheduled for this weekend, despite the ongoing war in Europe..."
"I can't get home, man. It's Marion. Not that far away. But I can't. Get. Home."


The bus drive.

A fleet of state troopers and National Guardsmen throughout the city.

"You can't listen to the game in town; it's all news. I can't even pick up WHAS."

The gym filled to capacity, most of the fans wearing Blue, the home team's fans - and students - having fled the increasingly dread expectation.
"The Cats are runnin' the other way. Master drives, passes to Blackmon...Blackmon inside to Turpin and SLAM DUNK! Kentucky has its first lead of the game!"
"There ain't gonna be a press conference. Kentucky's getting right on the bus. If you want to talk to them, now's the time."

The drive home.

"I've never seen so many people out, going down and coming back up, out to support us. Thank you...this is a tough time for all of us, and certainly for our team. We deeply appreciate your show of support."

The University of Kentucky campus remains open for students who are unable to return to their homes. Classes are suspended until further notice, but essential services remain open.

In other news...Governor Collins has signed an order authorizing the restriction of gasoline to eight gallons for personal use, 25 for Class C use and unlimited use for essential police, government and military vehicles, effective immediately. This follows her executive order taking effect an hour ago mandating grocery rationing thoughout the state...
"Mom...I'll stay here....I love you, I love you all."


"Winston is back? With his family?....where are we going to put them? In the lodge!...the NCAA? The hell with the NCAA!!! That's the least of our worries right now! Those people need someplace to stay. I don't give a damn about the NCAA or sanctions or what the hell they think!!!"

************************************************** ********

"Coach? Coach?"

The Deputy pounded on the basement door. It cracked open, the Coach's son peeking out.

It took a little bit of coaxing, but the Coach and his son eventually agreed to leave the basement. The Deputy stayed with the wife and daughters, while the two men walked out with the Sheriff.

Off in the distance, the remnants of a mushroom cloud.

"Lexington's..............gone" said the son, wide-eyed, somewhat in shock.

************************************************** ********

"Sir. This is the Governor of Kentucky. We have her on the radio."

No time for pleasantries. The President immediately got to the point: what was the situation in Kentucky, how many casualties, fallout, food, any enemy activity. The known target list.

"...we know that Louisville took three bombs. Fort Knox--zzzzzzzzzzzzzage from the blast. Fort Campbell is gone, Hopkinsville and Clarksville, Tennessee unlivable. Army depot in Richmond--zzzzzzzzzzzzzzztown of Richmond in flames. Blast hit Covingtonzzzznorthern Kentucky, probably intended for Cincinnatizzzzzzzzzzzhonestly not sure if Cincinzzzzzzzstill there. Lexingtonzzzzzzzzzzzzzzblast hitzzzzzzzzzzz."

"Hello? Hello? Governor? Governor Collins. Governor Collins. Hello! Are you there."

The Operator tried to raise the Governor, without luck. The interference was too strong.

The List of Homeland Targets were updated for Kentucky and Ohio.

Fort Knox
Fort Campbell
Richmond (Army depot)

The List, like many other things from those weeks and months following the Exchange, was incomplete and, in some respects, completely wrong.

Protect and Survive: The Last Game

A story of a college basketball team during the Third World War
Prologue 1


Middlesboro, Kentucky
Middlesboro High School
March 1, 1984

This former school in this small southeastern Kentucky town, near the Tennessee and Virginia borders, has been commandeered for the foreseeable future for a very different purpose.

One half hosts the field offices for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, specifically a half-dozen agents who had the good fortune of being outside Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee when they were nuked just over a week before.

The other half hosts offices for various officials representing the government of the state of Kentucky.

The reason they are here specificially, and not somewhere else within their own state, is fallout patterns.

Wind patterns brought high radiation and fallout levels to the Bluegrass State from the hundreds of ground blasts on Minuteman missile silos in Nebraska and Missouri, along with multiple blasts over the cities of Kansas City and St. Louis.

As a result, virtually all of Kentucky is covered in some of the highest rad levels in the United States.

Only Middlesboro, and a sliver of the state along the Virginia border, starting from the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park north to the town of Elkhorn City, were spared from the high rad levels.

Those throughout the state who had access to shelters before the Exchange of February 21st are still in them. Although their long-term future is uncertain at best, their outlook is far, far better than of those weren't able to find shelter before the rad levels skyrocketed throughout the Commonwealth.

The Governor, of course, is still in her fallout shelter in the capital of Frankfort, along with her family and various other state officials. Most of the Governor's Cabinet is in Frankfort, as is the head of the Kentucky National Guard.

The Legislature was relocated to Danville, the Supreme Court to Harrodsburg, both towns determined to be sufficiently far enough from targeted areas.

Still, it is not yet determined to be safe enough to safely go outside for any period of time without protection. Not only is this complicating the state's plans for food, water and medicine distribution, but in exploring the disputed regions of Lexington, northern Kentucky and Fort Knox...

************************************************** **********

The High School is filled with refugees, but not from Kentucky.

Many are residents from Knoxville, or students, faculty and employees from the University of Tennessee.

UT is in ruins, from the bomb that detonated over downtown Knoxville.

Only 20 percent of the city's residents were in town when the Exchange occurred.

Among the survivors: various student-athletes, coaches, managers and others associated with UT's numerous varsity sports.

Orange and white - UT's school colors - was seen in abundance throughout the high school, and stood in stark contrast to the dreary greyness that had descended on the town for the ninth straight day.

Of course, there was some Blue and White represented as well, and not just of fans of the University of Kentucky.

A much smaller group of athletes, managers and coaches from UK's basketball, baseball, track, football and tennis teams - mainly those trying to get their homes south of Kentucky when the nukes hit - ended up here in Middlesboro.

The opportunity was presented to them to stay in the shelters of some of the town's most prominent citizens. Some took it. Many chose to stay in the high school.

Soon, the UT and UK sides met, and intermingled.

Some day, everyone hoped, the intense rivalry between Tennessee and Kentucky would one day be reborn.

This day was not the time for such trivial matters.

Survival was most important.

************************************************** *********

Among the other refugees in the school was a reporter from a Lexington newspaper who covered UK basketball.

His way of dealing with the stress and uncertainty and fear was to document everything going on around him, just as he had in his beat through, and after, The Last Game.

The morning of the exchange, he had filed a story documenting potential NCAA violations by the Athletic Director who decided to put up several relatives of four men's and women's basketball players on campus.

He filed the story by 11 a.m. in a nearly empty newsroom, then got in his car and went for a drive, just in case. Just in case hit around 1:45, near Danville, with the bright lights of detonations over Richmond and somewhere near Lexington.

The reporter found his way down to Middlesboro, pen and paper in hand, not knowing what to do next.
Prologue 2

Post-exchange, sometime in 1984

The Commonwealth of Kentucky will become one of the most devastated areas in the entire United States.

Seven areas were either directly hit by Soviet ICBMs or suffered damage from nearby strikes:

* The Louisville Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area took four hits: one over Fifth and Liberty Streets downtown; a second directly over Standiford Field south of the city, that also took out the adjacent Ford plant; a third, directly over a Ford plant in eastern Jefferson County; and a fourth, over a U.S. Army depot outside of Charlestown, Indiana.

* Two strikes in the Cincinnati, Ohio-Ky.-Indiana SMSA: one over Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Boone County, a second directly south of downtown Covington, across the Ohio River from Cincinnati (two more hit in the northern and eastern Cincinnati suburbs). Downtown Cincinnati, though suffering damage from the Covington bomb, could one day be rebuilt and resettled...if there is anyone left to do so.

* Fort Campbell, the U.S. Army base in south-central Kentucky and north-central Tennessee, was hit directly. Nearby Hopkinsville, Kentucky and Clarksville, Tennessee are gone.

* Henderson, Kentucky suffered extensive damage from the airburst that took out downtown Evansville, Indiana.

* Another U.S. Army depot was hit in central Kentucky and also took out the nearby college town of Richmond.

* Fort Knox, a U.S. Army base southwest of Louisville, was hit by a single missile that air-burst over the unoccupied portion of the base. Lebanon Junction, in Bullitt County, is gone, and nearby Shepherdsville also suffered extensive fire damage. The heart of the base - including the famed bullion deposits - is reportedly intact. The majority of essential personnel on base at the time of the strike reportedly pulled out and headed west; their status is still unknown.

* The city of Lexington was spared a direct hit, thanks to the missile apparently intended for it air-bursting north of the city. The city itself, according to the few reports that have filtered north to Cleveland and south to the provisional government in Georgia, is either a madhouse or abandoned. The famed Rupp Arena, known pre-war as one of the nation's premier collegiate basketball venues, was designated as a refugee site; its current status, and that of the University of Kentucky and the city itself, is unknown.

The remainder of the state, aside from a sliver of counties in its southeastern portion, had the misfortune of receiving fallout from ground blasts on silos in Kansas and Missouri. The worst of the rads and fallout has arrived in the Bluegrass State; the state government's response has been almost non-existent, forcing local towns and cities to fend for themselves, patrol their municipalities and ration out their own local supplies of food and medicine amongst their residents and any refugees.

The status of the state outside of the few counties adjacent to eastern Tennessee and western Virginia is currently unknown. Contact with provisional Kentucky state government centers in Paducah; Bowling Green; Campbellsville; Danville; Mount Sterling; and Morehead was lost in the days after the war. FEMA officials in Rome and Cleveland are not optimistic about the long-term survival of anyone in those cities, given the fallout and rad levels.

Only the regional center in Middlesboro is still operating; Rome, for now, considers it as the official representative of the Kentucky state government.

The most disturbing trend to federal officials, outside of fallout and radiation concerns, is the recent loss of contact with the official state government bunker in Frankfort. This is where Governor Martha Layne Collins, her cabinet, the Kentucky National Guard commander and their families and aides were stationed.

Early on, the bunker made and maintained contact with the seven regional centers and the city of Lexington. There was guarded optimism that Kentucky might weather the fallout and restore some type of order within its borders. In a matter of days, Frankfort lost contact, and control, with the rest of the state outside of Middlesboro, and, finally, with Middlesboro and Rome themselves.

The State of Georgia eventually decided to send aid north into Kentucky, along with Tennessee and West Virginia. The provisional state government of Virginia was attempting to do the same, starting with sending food and medical aid to the small string of Kentucky towns along their and Tennessee's border.

There wasn't enough manpower and vehicles, though, to send sufficient amounts of aid. There wasn't enough fuel to send the vehicles to send the aid. There wasn't enough food, medicine, bandages, sutures, there weren't enough doctors and nurses to put in the vehicles that would go into Kentucky...

************************************************** ***********

The Reporter ate what now passed as lunch: a single can of Starkist white tuna. He expected that there would be a pear, or perhaps half a can of peas, for dinner. Probably.

Hopefully, the Virginians would come by soon and drop off another supply of food.

He looked at his arm, again - like there was anything else to do, on this bunk in this gym in this high school.

He picked up his mirror, given to him by a nurse three days ago after its previous owner passed away in her sleep. He held it to his forearm, then moved up to his shoulder.

The mole on his bicep looked like it had grown an eighth of an inch since he checked it. And gotten blacker.

The Reporter wished he had a drink, about now. He hadn't seen any alcohol since the fifth day after the War; maybe the locals drank it all.

He looked around the gym. Something had been off, the past few days, but he couldn't put a finger on it...

Then it hit him. It wasn't as packed as he remembered it being.

He looked around, and there were a lot of empty cots. There were still plenty of cots filled, but enough room to add another batch, or two, of refugees.

Where you would find them now, Lord only knew. And, Lord only knew what happened to those who weren't there anymore.

No one was talking much, now. No one had much strength to do anything. Everyone was too tired to stay awake, much less complain.

The grandfather clock, beneath one of the backboards, gonged twice. Was it 2 a.m. or 2 p.m.?

Who knew, anymore?

What did it matter, anyway?

The Reporter threw his forearm across his face, as he always did when he wanted to get some shut-eye. He noticed another spot that hadn't been there, before.

The hell with it, he thought, as he fell asleep.

He dreamed of days gone by, of days that never would again come, at least in his generation....

************************************************** ***********


February 13, 1983

Rupp Arena
Lexington, Kentucky

The Reporter took his seat at courtside, a half-hour before the scheduled tip-off of the University of Kentucky's men's basketball game against Southeastern Conference opponent Florida.

Dinner, tonight, was three hot dogs and a couple of cans of Coke. A small drop of mustard had fallen on his shirt, and he tried to rub it off with water and a napkin. When that didn't work out so well, the Reporter said the hell with it, and hoped that his necktie would suffice to hide the stain.

Basketball was on his mind and on the mind of everyone else in the building. That wasn't unusual, given how basketball-crazed the entire state was.

No one, including the Reporter, wanted to think about the elephant in the room.

That, tomorrow - or a week, or a month, or who knew? - they could all be vaporized in a gigantic mushroom of fire.

Given his profession, the Reporter didn't quite have the luxury to forget about that naggling possibility.

Already, there was talk that this might be one of the last SEC games in quite some time.

The Conference, some of his sources told him, was considering following the lead of the Big Eight and postponing games indefinitely. It made sense for those schools, with the hundreds of missile silos located in their state borders.

But seven of the SEC's Presidents didn't want to postpone their schedules just yet, with the understandable exceptions of Florida, Vanderbilt, and Auburn.

Vandy was located in Nashville, the state capitol, and largest city, of Tennessee. Auburn was mere miles from Fort Benning. Both likely targets.

Florida, in Gainesville, was not too far from Cuba. If the Soviets didn't think it worth of an ICBM, the Cubans might make a go at Gainesville just out of spite.

The league Presidents, though, didn't expect Soviet paratroopers - or missiles - to fall in Oxford, Starkville, Athens, Tuscaloosa, Knoxville, Lexington or Baton Rouge. Not this early.

In fact, the Ole Miss A.D. had told a Memphis television station that the Rebels would probably play games if the worst came to pass, "just to stick it to the Russians." The university still hadn't released a correction or disclaimer.

Here, in Lexington, no one was certain whether the city would be targeted or not.

That didn't prevent the city government, and Fayette County, and UK itself, from making contingency plans, along with numerous businesses in Lexington itself.

That included the newspaper the Reporter wrote for.

He hadn't yet considered his own contingency plans.

Meanwhile, people were filling up Rupp Arena, and tickets were selling briskly. The Reporter looked around and wondered if a record crowd would show up.

He then looked down at the game notes, provided by the UK Sports Information Department. He called the night desk in the sports department, and asked about story length and a deadline.

As he wrapped up the call, the Florida Gators ran out to take their pre-game warmups.

Then, the UK student band fired up the school song, and the Kentucky Wildcats ran out for their warmups.

[SIZE=+1]On, on, U of K, we are right for the fight today,
Hold that ball and hit that line;
Ev'ry Wildcat star will shine;
We'll fight, fight, fight, for the blue and white
As we roll to that goal, Varsity,
And we'll kick, pass and run, 'till the battle is won,
And we'll bring home the victory.


For now, all was normal in Kentucky.[SIZE=+1]
Thanks for the kind words, Falkenburg, and I apologize for not responding earlier.

I'm not convinced that all the targets on the FEMA map would actually have been hit, unless it were a total nuclear war. For example, I don't see the strategic value in Paducah other than the fact that it's on the Ohio River.

However, I'm definitely open to revising my list of targets, depending on feedback and what the overseers of the P&S timeline deem to be accurate.

By the way: another update forthcoming tonight, with the next update following on Tuesday.
Part 1

Years later, after the Exchange

Lexington, Kentucky

Memorial Park

The mushroom cloud from the 250-kiloton explosion over the Kentucky Horse Park led to widespread panic and outbreaks of violence across the city of Lexington and portions of the metro area that weren't destroyed by the errant Soviet ICBM or caught in the subsequent firestorm.

It is said that city and county firemen attempted to fight the fire first in a conventional manner; there was only so much water at their disposal. Records of the time tell of a decision to contain the fire through tactical ventilation, sacrificing a portion of the northern suburbs in order to save the city of Lexington itself, with the firefighters drawing a line at Interstate 64/75.

Fire did not engulf the city, but order quickly broke down. The flood of people fleeing Lexington was outnumbered by those coming into Lexington (including refugees from Midway and Georgetown, both lit afire by the Horse Park bomb).

Within 36 hours after the Exchange, order was restored to the point that city and county authorities, in conjunction with local police and the National Guard, were able to declare a state of emergency and martial law, and place refugees in hastily declared shelters. Public schools, public libraries, warehouses were commandeered.

The most famous examples of public shelters include the University of Kentucky - with Memorial Coliseum being used as a combination shelter/hospital/morgue - Transylvania University and the city's famed basketball arena, Rupp Arena.

Rupp Arena, which housed over 20,000 fans on numerous occasions to watch concerts, the Sweet 16 high school basketball tournament and the University of Kentucky Wildcats basketball team, was packed with an estimated 33,000 refugees by the end of the first week. Without power and water, and with city officials unable to feed the mass of refugees, conditions in Rupp Arena quickly deteriorated...

February 13, 1984

Lexington, Kentucky

Rupp Arena

Kentucky was 18-3 overall, and ranked sixth in the Associated Press poll, going into the contest. The Wildcats lost to Florida in Gainesville 69-57 January 17 in the first of two Southeastern Conference games between the two schools.

Afterwards, UK won six of their next seven games. The Gators split their next six, and came to Rupp with a 10-9 overall record.

That evening, an official crowd of 23,609 fans saw the 'Cats hold off Florida 67-65, a nailbiter highlighted by an 8-0 second-half run that put UK ahead to stay and a desperation 22-foot shot by Florida's Andrew Moten with two seconds left that hit the rim and allowed UK to avoid overtime*.

The atmosphere seemed especially charged, and not just because Florida had beaten Kentucky nearly a month earlier.

Although 23,609 was the announced attendance, Rupp Arena and UK officials acknowledge later in the week that "hundreds" of fans found their way in as the game progressed.

As the game wound down, there was not an empty seat to be found anywhere, and indeed dozens of fans were seen standing near the top of the upper deck and - surely to the chagrin of the fire marshal - sitting in stairways and near exits.

Those who were present that night - as spectators, arena workers, media, university officials, even players and coaches - would acknowledge that there was a sense that February 13th could be The Last Game for UK basketball for quite some time.

Of course, the deteriorating situation between the United States and the Soviet Union was on everyone's mind, although survivors remarked that very little was said about it that evening.

Instead, the entirely pro-Wildcat crowd treated the game against an unranked opponent as if their Wildcats were playing the top-ranked team in the country, or an archrival like Indiana. Fans who normally stayed seated, and quiet, the entire game stood up throughout and yelled support for their team and criticism at the officials.

After the final buzzer sounded, an more curious thing occurred: as the Wildcats prepared to walk back to their locker room, spontaneously, fans stood up and clapped in applause, then gradually erupted in cheering.

This went on for 20 minutes.

Finally, after the players, cheerleaders and head coach Joe B. Hall led the crowd in singing My Old Kentucky Home and the UK fight song, the team left the floor.

After coach Hall and the players finished interviews with the media, officials informed them that most of the fans had not left. So they went back out to the floor, and it turned into Senior Day and Fan Appreciation Night.

The team finally left around 2:30 in the morning.

There was a real sense - despite how little sense it made on the surface - that this might, in fact, be the last game UK basketball would play for some time to come.

As it turned out, The Last Game came six days later, in another state, on a largely deserted campus in a city under martial law.

* - poetic license.

Sources:, and (Florida, UK)
Part 2

Years after the Exchange

Lexington, Kentucky

The Kentucky Memorial Museum, located near Memorial Park in downtown Lexington, is one of the most comprehensive testaments to life after the Exchange in the entire United States.

Over 4,000 artifacts, including photographs, personal journals and the last issues of The Lexington Herald and The Lexington Leader newspapers are on display.

Among the more notable artifacts are gas masks; National Guard uniforms; iodine tablets; and a replication of the Frankfort-based bunker that held Kentucky Governor Martha Layne Collins, her staff, her cabinet, and others in the weeks after the Exchange.

The Memorial Museum is open six days a week, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ...


The Girl was born after the Exchange.

Unlike her mother, she never had the pleasure of listening to Madonna and Tom Petty; of playing Pac-Man and Donkey Kong; of keeping up with the latest fashions; of talking on the telephone with friends for hours and hours; of being pursued by boys with nice cars and even better smiles.

Unlike her mother, the Girl never had two whole arms and two whole legs. Nor did she have her mother's full, long, blond hair.

Of course, her mother didn't have her full, long, blond hair anymore, either.

Still, the girl walking on a wooden right leg, with a stump four inches below her elbow on her left arm, as bald as Charlie Brown himself didn't seem to be affected by any of that.

Her spirit, her spunk was just like her mother at that age, and up to the Exchange itself.

The Aftermath ripped all of that spirit from the Mother, as it did to everyone else.

Happily, it seemed that all of that spirit found its way back to the Daughter who, despite life being the way it was now, despite what birth deformities and cancer cursed her with, was making the most of life and enjoying every bit of it.

"Mom! Mom! Look!"

The Mother walked over to one of the displays in the museum.

The display was of pages taken from a reporter's notebook, before and after the Exchange. The notes were written in cursive; the Daughter, having eyesight problems all her life, did better reading large blocked letters.

"What does it say, Mom?" she asked the Mother.

"Hold on, honey." The Mother jogged over to her girl, looking at the display to make sure it was appropriate for little kids like her to look at. Some of the displays were too much to handle, even for grizzled adults like her.

"This display was by some sportswriter, who covered UK back in the Old Days. Probably alright," the Mother mumbled to herself.

And then, Mom told the Girl stories about the Old Days, of the Kentucky Wildcats, and the men who played for them, and the people who covered them and wrote about them in the newspaper, like this man...

More to come.
February 13, 1984

Lexington, Kentucky

Rupp Arena

The room where the postgame press conferences with University of Kentucky basketball coach Joe B. Hall were held was normally full, just with the usual contingent of local and national media that covered the Wildcats.

This was no ordinary day.

Tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union were spiraling downwards.

It had been announced that the USSR's General Secretary, Yuri Andropov, had "resigned" the day before; his replacement, General Nikolai Ogarkov, basically threatened all-out war if the NATO alliance didn't stand down.

Earlier in the day, the states of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma ordered the shut down of all schools, from kindergarten through university, effective that week, with the Colorado and Nebraska schools shutting down the next day.

That began the long-dreaded ripple effect on American sports, as the actions basically forced the Big Eight Conference to shut down for the duration, and the Missouri Valley and Western Athletic conferences to scramble to decide whether to continue on or to suspend their seasons.

Tonight, the press contingent at Rupp Arena swelled, with reporters from the news side of the numerous newspapers and television and radio stations joining their comrades from the "toy store", i.e. the sports department, including beat reporters and columnists.

ESPN and CNN were there. So were Sports Illustrated, The New York Times and the Washington Post.

UK's sports information department had taken the step of closing off the locker room to all but "full-time" beat reporters. Coach Hall and Athletic Director Cliff Hagan didn't want to subject the players to unending questions about the US-USSR standoff.

The local media reporters allowed in mostly honored Hagan's "request" that they stick to game- and team-related questions, although a certain reporter from Lexington got in a few unrelated questions, that ended up in broadcast and print stories about the game the following day:

"I hope they don't go to war. I hope they pull back, and work things out. Our playing tonight isn't that important compared to what's going on, but it made a big difference to the fans. We saw it in the stands. You can hear them still out there. We want to keep playing. We want to finish the season with a championship." - Dicky Beal
"Yeah, I'm concerned. Who wouldn't be? I'm ready to do whatever my team, my coach, my country asks me to do." - Melvin Turpin
"I have family out of state, and I'm concerned about them and they're concerned about me. I spent a lot of time on the phone between class and practice today. Coach talked with us about staying focused, not letting what we can't control affect us tonight. I won't lie and say that it didn't, for part of the game, but we managed to take care of things when we needed to at the end." - Sam Bowie
"We're focused. We weren't fully focused for most of the first half, but neither were they. They settled down, like we did, and tried to beat us and until the end were in a position to. We pulled it out, at the end. We appreciate the fans; they gave us a lot of support in the second half. We don't want to let them down. We're getting out of here with a win, and now we're going to get ready for Vanderbilt." - Roger Harden
"We want to beat the Russians on the court. We don't want a shooting war, man. We'll fight, don't get me wrong, but nobody in his right mind wants this to escalate further than it has! If they come at us, we're ready!" - Bret Bearup
With Bearup becoming increasingly agitated - mainly over the global situation, and not really at the reporters asking him about it - the assistant coaches and sports information and athletics officials in the locker room put an end to the interview session.

The media was escorted out of the locker room, while the players dressed and showered to go back out on the court, where an estimated three-fourths of the crowd was still present for what was becoming an impromptu celebration of the season, and the program.

In the main interview room, Coach Hall, joined at the podium by Hagan and sports information director Russell Rice, would face the media and answer the easy questions about Florida and the harder questions about what came next.
I've cut it off there as I didn't want the last post to get too long; the next post will be the press conference with the coach, the AD and the SID, of course.

I also wanted to post this teaser, set on the Day of the Exchange, that allows, shall we say, for an unauthorized way for part of the media to continue to inform the public even after the EBS takes control of Lexington-area TV and radio stations mid-morning:


"You ready?"

The Dee Jay sat behind the mike in the impromptu studio, hidden in a barn in southern Fayette County.

This studio was nothing like that of her employer, a prominent AM station in Lexington.

Cobbled together over the past few days, the group of radio engineers and UK engineering students had somehow got the operation working.

Pirate radio was not something that the federal government tolerated in the best of times.

Now, with the sanctioned airwaves taken over by the endless beep of the Emergency Broadcast System, everyone involved knew that their participation in this operation could end at best with life in prison.

But the need to inform the public and try to help keep order in Lexington negated the risk.

It was the culmination of several hundreds of man-hours contributed towards a project, birthed in the mind of a UK student, that everyone involved hoped would never, ever needed to be implemented.

Global events, sadly, proved otherwise.

After the first nuclear detonation since Nagasaki went off hours before in Germany, the pirate station's engineers went to work to get it ready for broadcast.

Their plan was to commence broadcasting after all stations were taken over by the EBS, with the expectation that the missiles would already be flying.

Instead, the EBS was implemented mid-morning local time, in an attempt to calm the panic that gripped America; shutting down non-government news, it was thought, would aid local police and National Guard units in restoring some semblance of order.

The engineers, producers and deejays at the pirate station in the barn knew the missiles weren't flying, because the EBS had not extended to a shut down of the Associated Press and United Press International wire services.

Friends and colleagues at the Lexington Herald and Lexington Leader newspapers, and at Channel 27 and 590-AM, were feeding AP and UPI news reports to family and friends, some of whom fed the information to a secretary sitting in the kitchen of a two-story house set 90 yards from the barn.

Those reports, as long as the local phone system continued to work, would help the pirate news crew inform its audience of what was going on locally and internationally.

When that broke down, the news crew would fall back on a system that included couriers on horseback, morse code and telegraph.

The producers would run the ongoing coverage, and the engineers would keep the station on the air.

And everyone would hope that the police and government were too busy keeping order to notice, or try to shut them down.
Good updates, Brian! :)
If they get co-opted by EBS, they may be very helpful in dealing with the War at a a local level.
Good updates, Brian! :)
If they get co-opted by EBS, they may be very helpful in dealing with the War at a a local level.

That's the idea. Of course EBS wont matter after the Exchange. Given the future situation of downtown, this studio will prove to be useful afterwards...
The Press Conference

February 13, 1984

Lexington, Kentucky

Rupp Arena

The dozens of reporters, columnists, photographers, and other media members were assembled in the room where Coach Joe B. Hall always held his post-game press conference, waiting on the coach, or one of the two gentlemen flanking him at the table, to start.

"Coach Hall will take questions about the game only for the first ten minutes," said Russell Rice, the University of Kentucky men's basketball sports information director. "Then he'll answer any further questions about the game, or any other topic you wish to discuss."

In normal times managing the media was a job in itself for Rice. Tonight, with a war on the horizon, he may as well have tried herding cats.

Hall spent nearly five minutes discussing the game, his team's play and that of Florida's, before taking questions from the media.

The first four questions related directly to the effect of global events on the team's outlook and play.

"We told them to take care of business on the court, that certain things every one of us were thinking about were beyond their control, but that what they did tonight was something they could control," Hall said.

A beat writer from one of the two Lexington papers then asked a question unrelated to Florida, or UK's next scheduled opponent, Vanderbilt: "Will you consider suspending the season, and why would you keep your players here to continue on when war could break out at any time?"

With that, the floodgates opened.

There was a rumor floating through the press that night that Kentucky would not suspend its season, that due to "pressure" from legislators or boosters or whomever, the basketball team would play come hell, high water or Russian ICBMs.

No one knew officially of any plan by UK to do such a thing. It had been assumed that if and when the university shut down, the athletic program - including men's basketball - would suspend operations for the duration. That didn't keep media members from looking into the rumor, nor from asking if was true.

"Dammit, Jerry," said Athletics Director Cliff Hagan, sitting to Hall's left, clearly agitated over the rumor he half-suspected was started by that particular reporter himself. "Look, there's no official word by the university about shutting down. We're still in business, we played tonight, we plan to proceed as normal this week...if things change, we're not going off and playing Centre College or the Lexington YMCA while the school's shut down. Alright???"

That, of course, led to more questions.

Did Hagan, or Hall, or both think there would be a war? (they hoped not but said it was up to Reagan and Ogarkov)

Would the university be shutting down like seven of the Big Eight schools planned to? (no plans at present)

Would they let the players go home now? (Hagan: "we'll cross that bridge if we get there.")

Was the crowd that continued to linger in the arena indicative of a sense that this was the end, of the season, of the program? (Hall: "I think the people are showing how much they love this program, and what it means to them." Hagan: "The end???? Come on.")

Were there plans in the event of a nuclear explosion in the city, and what were they? (Hagan: "yeah. We'll build a frickin' barbeque and eat atomic ribs," he said with a smirk, drawing laughter from some of the reporters)


And with that, I'm going to cut it off and pick things up tomorrow.
So you're going day-by-day till the exchange? Interesting. (Incidentially, this year follows the 1984 calendar.)
So you're going day-by-day till the exchange? Interesting. (Incidentially, this year follows the 1984 calendar.)

I thought that going day-by-day would be the best way to keep track of everything up to the exchange. As you've probably noticed I've jumped forward a few times as well.

You may have noticed, too, that last week Kentucky played Florida at home (on a Tuesday), then travelled to Vandy Saturday night.

At least in P&S-verse, UK fans won't have any trouble getting into Memorial Gym and filling it up for The Last Game ;)
February 13, 1983: the end of the Hall/Hagan press conference.

Associated Press, Louisville: "Ole Miss indicated it would play games in the event of a conflict, even in the worst-case scenario. What are the university's plans in the event of an escalation?"

Hagan: "I think their A.D. (athletics director) was being facetious to that TV reporter. Common sense would tell you what would happen in the case of an escalation."

WKYT, Lexington: "So plans are to suspend operations, by the university or the athletic program, if--"

Hagan: "There are no plans at this time to do either, at least that I'm aware of."

WHAS-TV, Louisville: "The University of Louisville's Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet Wednesday on whether to suspend classes, and we've heard the UK Board of Trustees is going to do the same, Wednesday or Thursday. Can you comment on that?"

Hagan: "As I said, there are no official plans at this time to suspend operations--"

Danville Advocate-Messenger: "So the (UK) Board is not going to meet this week?"

Hagan: "You'll have to ask the President. Or the Board."

ESPN: "The Southeastern Conference has indicated it may follow the lead of the Big Eight Conference and suspend play in all sports if the situation between the U.S. and the USSR worsens. If the SEC were to do so, would the University follow, or try to go it alone?"

Hagan: "As I said, there are no plans by the university to suspend classes, and I know of no plans by the SEC to suspend the schedule. As best I know, the SEC has not cancelled or suspended any games, this week, next week or for the rest of the season. We're here, and unless the President of this university and its Board of Trustees decides to shut down, for any reason, we're going to continue to compete in men's and women's basketball and in all of our sports."

Kentucky Kernel: "We're hearing that the track team has opted not to compete, either this week or for the remainder of the season, and that team members are being told to go home. Is that true, Mr. Hagan, and Coach Hall, and how are the other sports handling the potential war?"

Hall: "We haven't sent our players home. We're still planning to practice, to prepare for Vanderbilt on Sunday, and to finish the season and compete in the NCAAs. We certainly are not going to put our players or anyone in our program in danger--"

Hagan: "Coach. Excuse me. I'm the athletic director, and if there were any plans to send any student-athletes home by any of our coaches, I would know, okay? The university is not shutting down, we're still going to play games and run in meets, and if any of that changes we will let you know ourselves. Now, if you'll excuse us, we have business to attend to, and thank you for your time and being here tonight."


Hagan briskly walked out of the press room, followed by Hall, Rice, other athletic department and sports information officials and several Kentucky State Police troopers.

The group walked towards the Kentucky locker room, with Hagan following the coach inside. There, players were finishing showering, and getting dressed. Outside, the troopers were stationing themselves to guard the entrance, mainly to keep the press away.

Hagan got the group of players, assistant coaches, trainers, managers and other team members together, many dressed in street clothes, a couple with towels wrapped around their waists.

"None of what I say leaves this room," Hagan said, "not even to tell your families or friends or anybody else. Right now, there are no plans to shut down the school, and no plans to suspend the SEC schedule, nor for us to cancel or suspend the Vanderbilt game on Sunday. There are no plans to move the Vanderbilt game up here, for those of you who have heard those rumors. Now, it's true there are no plans as of now, but that is going to change. The Board of Trustees is going to meet, Wednesday or Thursday, to discuss where the situation is at and what steps to take regarding the university's operations. I and other athletic department officials will meet tomorrow and Wednesday to determine how basketball and the other sports will proceed.

"I want to emphasize something: we will not put you in a dangerous position. If that means sending you home, that's what we'll do. If that means keeping you here, that's what we'll do...the truth is, we don't know what's going to happen. We've been in two world wars, but never a nuclear war. No one wants that, not the least the men leading this country...but we have to prepare for it. We have to prepare for any this situation. In other words, we hope for and pray for the best, and prepare for anything, including the worst.

"We will not leave you hanging, and we will tell you first what the university and the athletic department's plans are whenever the situation changes. Right now, school is still in session, you are expected to attend classes, you are expected to go to practice, you are expected to prepare for Vanderbilt on Sunday, and especially to represent this university, out there to the people in the arena, and on the court Sunday, and for the rest of the season."
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