6/29/11 – Kentucky and Winning

This is NOT a news flash. At the University of Kentucky it’s all about winning when it comes to basketball. Forget the whole student-athlete conversation. Ignore the graduation rate discussion. And while we’re at it, image isn’t important unless it’s an image of a player or coach cutting down the nets.

Kentucky has given Coach John Calipari a two-year contract extension and a pay raise. He’s now on an 8-year, $36.5 contract.

Understand that Kentucky and Calipari have violated no NCAA rules that we know of. But Calipari’s image is less than stellar because two schools where he coached have had Final Four appearances because of violations. Calipari’s reputation is that’s he’s dirty but smart.

He’s also made a mockery of the NCAA one-and-done rule, parading in a bunch of hotshot freshmen who spend less than a year in Lexington before heading to the NBA.

Again, Calipari has never been named as an NCAA violator. The one-and-done rule bothers most coaches and schools, but it’s legal.

The bottom line is Kentucky doesn’t care about the smell as long as the Wildcats win.


  1. Wyman Stewart says:

    :-0 HOW DARE YOU ATTACK MY BELOVED WILDCATS! But, coming from a Tar Heel, that doesn’t surprise me. (I have little doubt your beloved Dean Smith and his North Carolina Tar Heels did their fair share of cheating over the years, although the way ACC officials called games against non-ACC opponents for years is all I can point to with confidence.)

    You and I could rage at each other non-stop, but baseball having been my first love, I learned to take an objective view of Kentucky basketball over the years, which is less fanatical than what you mention. Although I could never argue with his success, I was not a huge fan of Rick Patino, who did transform a few players from suspect college players to NBA players. I was a Joe B. Hall fan and a Tubby Smith fan. I always felt both were human beings first, basketball coaches second, and self-glorifiers, not at all. Eddie Sutton was a true tragedy, who deserved more blame than he got. What’s his name that Calipari replaced, I predicted was Eddie Sutton all over again (without the success). Like Pitino, my feeling is John Calipari does not belong at Kentucky. So far, like Pitino, his basketball philosophy has worked. I will remain leery of the man, but will respect his success.

    One and done or even two and done, was not Calipari’s creation. The NCAA has a right and duty to make sure every school aheres to its rules and policies. Unless I am mistaken, a great many ACC people still sit in high places within the NCAA. I suspect Kentucky will be more closely watched than a lot of other schools, simply because the school name is Kentucky. I, and many Kentucky fans, would prefer players play for Kentucky for 4 years. Kentucky does not have the population base of a North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, or Florida to draw from, therefore to have a top program, Kentucky must recruit top talent from across the nation. Calipari’s one and done recruiting philosophy appears to work for Kentucky and will be adopted by others, such as North Carolina, if it works well-enough. Call it ADAPTABILITY that has kept Kentucky near the top of basketball all these years, with a small state population.

    You seem to prefer that Kentucky be restricted to its own population, to players who are willing to play 3 to 4 years for the school, and only innovate in ways that fail. I, myself, may not agree with Kentucky, but as long as they are playing by the rules, swallow hard and accept the truth that your Tar Heels and ACC have been outfoxed the past couple of seasons by Califpari’s Kentucky Wildcats. You can get with the program or watch your ACC basketball programs fall by the wayside.

    Just remember, your feet were kept warm on many a cold North Carolina nights by the coal that was ripped from places like West Virginia and Kentucky, while leaving its residents in poverty, so you could pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get yourself one of those Tar Heel degrees. You owe Kentuckians and UK more respect than you are ever likely to give us. That’s okay. We have the WINNINGEST program in college basketball. How does it feel to be second, LAMM?

  2. Wyman Stewart says:

    A second comment, David Lamm.

    One and done, along with the years preceding it, went a long way in ruining college basketball and the NBA. However, I reached the conclustion that the words “college basketball” and “education” virtually ceased to have any meaningful relationship. You’re an insider, so to speak, while I am an outsider. Cheating in various forms has always existed in sports, along with punishments (not always perfect). Things I came to see without trying, along with media stories, which proved to be true, led me away from basketball in particular and sports in general.

    I am convinced I watched college basketball games on TV that were fixed in some manner, due to calls by referees. There’s been strange shots and other things by players in games too. I am sure some Division 1 schools make a good faith effort to educate their players and some players want an education, but I’m convinced that’s the exception, not the rule. Sports, both professional and amateur, need overhauling. Cheating in both seem the norm; even making me wonder if steroids were so prominent in baseball, what else was going on? Were games thrown? Were players blackmailed or even told by baseball, “Keep doing steroids”? But, back to basketball, without excluding baseball, football, with its criminal element, and other sports.

    Although I saw the Massachusetts AAU team play in Jacksonville, with its coach, who was eventually nailed for taking money as an off campus assistant for Cleveland State U., while directing players to CSU and perhaps other schools ( I always thought he was kind of a flashy character the first 2 or 3 years I saw him), I felt I walked away from following basketball closely, before the “handlers” seemed to take over talented players, which we often read about today taking big bucks to deliver a player to a school, such as came up with the USC basketball program. Neither of these cases are as I describe them, for I no longer recall the exact details of the cases. Both made me aware I was making the right choice, to walk away, from what I came to see as a corrupt, immoral sport.

    It bothers me that the general population seems to take all this as business as usual. Those who don’t get caught are regarded as saints; those who do get caught, their outcome depends on the prevailing mood. When I root for a team or an individual, I like to think that team or individual represents something positive overall. I like to think there are great lessons to be learned from sports, because there are. Almost all that has been removed from sports today. “Integrity” has left sports. I can root for Kentucky, but even if “one and done” is not the dream of any fan, coach or administration at Kentucky, we’ve removed the “integrity” in sports that would support that belief. This is true for North Carolina or Duke, even if they hide it a little better.

    So, when you attack Kentucky, as you have, fairly or unfairly, you’re leaving a lot out. There’s a larger story; Kentucky is not an aberration, but the picture of the future for all of college basketball and why the NBA will continue to get worse, not better. It’s why with the end of your radio program, I no longer listen to as much sports talk radio as I did. I tire of the personal chit-chat and other extras that’s not sports talk at all. Sure, be human, indulge in personal reflection or other sillyness from time to time, but when its a major part of the program, when sports is pushed aside, then you’re telling me (they are), there’s no sports to listen to, because the guys are too stupid or too lazy to do their job. Yeah, I know, that’s the “in” thing to do now. Sports Talk is losing its “integrity” too. So, thank you for all the years, where you led the way. Thank you for all the years, where you were the voice in the wilderness of Jacksonville sports; not alone, but loudly leading the charge. “We dinosaurs never die; we slowly fade away.”

  3. Wyman Stewart says:

    And finally:

    Sorry that Dean Smith, adversary that he’s always been, is in a mind destroying game he can’t win. I think I’ve seen him angry a time or two, when it seemed his normal demeanor would finally crack, but I don’t think even in those moments, he failed to regain his composure, while kindly and graciously accepting defeat, always with praise for the other team. It was intelligent praise too, for he pointed out details in his praise, not empty words of praise. In fairness to him, he should have had one or two more national titles. His stars were among the earliest to leave for the ABA / NBA hardship draft, when that was uncommon for players. I will let you cite other years.

    As a Kentucky, Western Kentucky, J.U., or Florida State fan it was fun to know I had Dean Smith, Coach K, Bobby Knight, and a few other coaches I rooted against by name, when they showed up on the schedule or in the NCAA Tournament, before Coach Smith retired. You want to defeat these fellows, like a Dean Smith, but part of that comes because they seem invincible. Then one day you wake up to find Dean Smith is a fragile human being, like you or me. It doesn’t seem right. Especially when its the mind fading away.

    I’m sure you’ve interviewed him a few times; seen many sides of this legendary basketball coach and man. It doesn’t seem possible we, and Dean Smith, are losing the sharp mind, the sense of humor, the kindness, graciousness, and other qualities that make Dean Smith who he is. So, I won’t. I will see him winning this battle by remembering how kind and gracious he is in victory; the kind that I pray takes him to heaven. He’s been more than a worthy adversary; he’s been a victorious man. Maybe you can create for us a Dean Smith interview, culled from other interviews that would make a fine end of life interview, befitting his legend. I would love to read it when that day comes. If not, I will imagine it. Post game, Dean Smith, standing tall, waiting for the first question to be asked; the view in my head as I close. God be with Dean Smith, even if I am originally from Kentucky. Sorry Coach, I had to say that. We’re adversaries. 😉

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