Louisville attorney Matt Jones is (almost) famous in Big Blue Nation. In addition to practicing law full-time, he's chief blogger at kentuckysportsradio.com, a website that averages 75,000 hits per day thanks to its mix of University of Kentucky basketball, football and recruiting news, delivered "in the most ridiculous manner possible."
The blog is legitimate content mixed with silly irreverence, which has ruffled some feathers. On a recent afternoon, Jones posted a no-nonsense interview with CBS basketball analyst Greg Anthony, while another blogger posted Photoshopped "paparazzi pics" of Lexington TV sports anchor Rob Bromley.
We caught up with Jones to learn more.
When did you become such a passionate UK fan?
I grew up in Middlesboro. Everyone in Eastern Kentucky is a UK fan. You don't really have a choice in the matter.
You went to Duke for law school — ever cheer for the Blue Devils?
How did the website come about?
When I moved back to Kentucky in 2005, I wanted to do something sports-related in addition to law. My friend Rob Gidel and I got access to a radio station in Lexington and produced podcasts. So the website started as a place to post our radio show, and then it turned into a blog.
Did you think the blog could achieve 75,000 hits per day?
Absolutely not. It started as a way for my buddies to stay in touch. We were all living in different places, and we'd watch a game and poke fun at the coaches, announcers, each other. I never thought anyone would want to read the stuff except for us. The day Patrick Patterson signed with UK, we got 125,000 hits and our server crashed.
What makes the site so popular?
We have a distinct voice. It's UK sports with an edge. And people like the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" aspect of it. Bill Simmons, The Sports Guy at ESPN.com, does a similar thing with the Red Sox. We have eight bloggers who work for free. We all have a passion for sports, but we don't take it too seriously. It's not life or death.
Do you ever blog on subjects besides UK?
To the chagrin of many of our readers, I started writing about Obama, and then the Obama and Clinton campaigns asked if I had any interest in interviewing their candidates. Both backed out, maybe because the Kentucky primary wasn't close. But for Obama, KSR's main demographic, men age 18 to 35, might have helped.
You hired "KSR Girls" for UK tailgating events. What duties did they perform?
(Laughs) When we first started the site, we got these girls to walk around the parking lot and tell guys to visit the site. We also had a White Castle eating contest. Back then, we didn't run the site as a (high-profile) business.
It's more of a business now?
Definitely. We're really diligent, updating the site like 10 times a day. We get quoted on newscasts if we break a story.
How have you been received by the mainstream media?
The Lexington sports media has been around forever, most of them 30 years. In the early days of the site, we made fun of them constantly. Not mean-spirited, but harsh. Now I have press credentials and they won't speak to me. Also, there's this idea that I'm a blogger and not trained to do real journalism.
What kind of relationship do you have with coach Billy Gillispie?
He can't understand why I put so much time into a blog. But the blog has been a big source of business for my law firm. People read the blog and think, "I want that guy to be my lawyer." Which is bizarre to me.
What kind of law do you practice?
Plaintiff work and family law, mostly.
You once blogged about former UofL quarterback Brian Brohm confronting you at Molly Malone's. It caused a stir among Cardinals fans. What happened?
(Laughs) When word of that got out, a lot of UofL fans went to the site without knowing what we do. I wrote about the incident in jest. I met Brohm at Molly Malone's, and then his buddies told him that I write "junk" about UofL. He asked if it was true, but nothing else happened. It was the Trinity mafia versus drunk, middle-aged lawyers — the least-intimidating group ever.
You caused a stir among UK fans with something called "Practice-gate."
After the IU game, Gillispie told the players he was sick of them and they weren't going to practice the following week. I called UK and verified that they hadn't practiced on Monday or Tuesday, and no practice was scheduled for Wednesday. So I put that information on the site and everyone went crazy. The media started calling UK, and UK decided to have practice (on Wednesday).
So you were responsible for UK holding practice? Big Blue Nation owes you one?
I wouldn't say that. I'm sure they were going to practice eventually.