FanPost

Embracing the hate

In his latest piece, Mark Bradley, sports opinion writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, held forth thus:

For the record, I was born in Kentucky and graduated from UK and worked at the Lexington Herald-Leader covering, among other things, Kentucky basketball. Also for the record, I haven’t written a word about Big Blue hoops in more than a calendar year, for the simple reason that Billy Gillispie has turned Kentucky into a program barely worthy of comment.

And how, you’re asking, is the guy who was pushed aside to make room for the overmatched Gillispie doing? Tubby Smith’s Minnesota Golden Gophers are 10-0, having just beaten Louisville, which is coached by Rick Pitino, who was Smith’s predecessor at UK. Here’s Myron P. Medcalf of the Minnesota Star-Tribune on Tubby’s latest triumph. And here’s the famous Andy Katz of ESPN.com proclaiming Minnesota his team of the week.

Now, you'll all probably remember Mark Bradley as the author of this opinion piece last year blasting Kentucky fans and Mitch Barnhart for not " ... having grasped the reality of 21st century basketball ..."

Memo to Mark -- yes, we have grasped it, if reluctantly ... well, most of us, anyway.  Did you notice that there was no uprising despite an 18-13 team last year, worse than any Smith effort on record?  Many Kentucky fans reached the conclusion that Tubby Smith could not take UK where it wanted to go again.  We may be wrong about that, but that was the feeling here, anyway.  Ten years is a long time to coach at Kentucky, and ten years is a long absence from the Final Four at UK.  Call us spoiled and obnoxious if you want.  Trust me, we're used to it.  As for Barnhart being a weasel, well, there goes your interview.

However, it would help if you would go talk to Smith himself about why he left.  Maybe then, you could embrace his decision as best for both UK and Tubby Smith.  See, he gets to coach a team now with his son, something we would never have allowed him to do at UK.  Win-win, Mark.  By the by, don't remind us you are a Kentucky boy.  We are all trying hard to forget that.

As far as Gillispie is concerned, well, the jury is still out on him, but if you have been paying attention (to UK, not just Minnesota), the evidence is getting real strong in Coach Gillispie's favor.  Yes, he still has a ways to go, but calling him "overmatched" these days does not look justifiable, and you may be the only person with an opinion on sports outside of the addled Billy Reed who agrees with that conclusion.  That doesn't make you wrong, of course, but it does put you out on a limb that most of us actual UK fans will relish sawing out from under you.

So I'll join you, Mark, in congratulating Coach Smith and the Golden Gophers.  You see, we've moved on -- heck, it's been 18 months or so since Smith left.  Perhaps you should move on, too.   But if you aren't willing to do so, it's OK ... we're all about embracing the hate around Kentucky these days.  Write your negative screeds with my blessings.

But please, don't remind us where you're from.

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