By LARRY VAUGHT
Ask former Kentucky basketball coach Joe Hall who did as much — or maybe more — to help develop UK fan support and he has a quick answer.
“Oscar Combs did more to develop fan support than anybody. He did a service for the University of Kentucky that could not have been bought at any price,” said Hall.
What Combs did was start the Cats’ Pause, a weekly publication devoted to UK sports, in 1976. He had worked for the Hazard Herald from 1965-69 before eventually working for and then buying the Eastern Kentucky Voice. He sold that in 1975 and started the Cats’ Pause in 1976.
Getting Hall on board immediately with the Cats’ Pause was a major bonus for Combs, who had a high of 24,000 weekly subscribers before selling the publication in 1997.
“Oscar should absolutely in the UK Athletics Hall of Fame,” Hall said. “He satisfied fans by making UK news available all over the country with his publication. He was the spokesman for all UK sports. Everybody waited on their mailman to bring the Cats’ Pause.”
Hall remembers Combs going to then UK athletics director Cliff Hagan and football coach Fran Curci for their thoughts before launching the Cats’ Pause. Hall laughs when he remember Combs telling him that if Hagan, Curci or Hall thought it was a bad idea, he would not start the publication
“Curci said he had to approve everything he wrote. Hagan said we already have a sports information staff. I said, ‘Oscar it is the best idea I have ever heard. It will satisfy fans like they never dreamed of being satisfied. I think it would be the greatest service you could do,’” Hall said.