Why? Why does every Kentucky innovation have to be blown up by some in the sports media into a controversial thing? We can chalk it up to the tabloid sort of stuff that we see so often on political shows, or possibly bias (many will be tempted to do just that) against UK, or just plain stupidity. Personally, I find myself firmly in the category of the latter.
Rivals.com's Andrew Skwara and Bob McClellan have published this "pro and con" on their website concerning the decision by Kentucky to use the NCAA rules to move Midnight Madness to an earlier date than normal this year. Many are calling it a "loophole," but in a real sense, it isn't -- Midnight Madness itself is little more than a contrived public relations stunt in the sense that it has no meaningful effect whatsoever on the readiness of a basketball team to play the game. Using the fact that two hours/week are available for practice beginning September 15th to move this media event around to an earlier date is transparently irrelevant to anything -- no one in his or her right mind would argue that performing that two hours at midnight in front of a large crowd with cameras all around would constitute an effective practice. In fact, a rational argument can be made that from a preparedness standpoint, it is a total waste of that two hours.
But despite this non-controversy, Skwara and McClellan have decided that we need to make a this into a full-fledged conundrum. Quoth Skwara:
Kentucky is obviously taking advantage of a loophole in the rules here, but it makes sense for more schools to do the same.
Kentucky fans should probably read this as, "Kentucky is evil, but we knew that. The thing is, anyone who wants can do this." What the heck else does, "taking advantage of a loophole," mean? Midnight Madness itself is a loophole by that definition.
But the guy who completely flunks the logic test is McClellan. It was probably just his turn to take the dumb position, so don't go off deciding this guy hates UK because he is a closet Duke fan or something. He may be a UK-hater, I don't know, but if so, let's have a compelling argument why and not a bunch of ad hominem. OK, so here is McClellan's "reasoning:"
But these events really are elitist. In the midst of football season, how many of the 341 schools that play basketball really are capable of holding a legit Midnight Madness in which the fan base is truly interested? Maybe 10?
Did you get that? We are hurting the football schools, poor dears, because they don't have enough fan interest to put on an early March Madness. It just ain't fair, and Bob's not going to take it anymore.
I know this is going to come as a shock to McClellan, but fans at 90% of the SEC schools won't show up for a midnight basketball practice in significant numbers no matter when they hold it! And did you know that Kentucky's fans actually care about football season, too, as evidenced by the nearly 70,000 screaming Blue and White fans in attendance at Commonwealth Stadium against the doughty warriors of I-AA Norfolk State? "Affirmative action" for college sports teams, Bob, is that what you are advocating? Let's don't and say we did.
Then, there is this brilliant piece of cogitation:
I can only praise Kentucky for a great idea. They get the stage to themselves, and it's a nice recruiting tool, too. Should others follow suit? No. Should the Wildcats or anyone else be allowed to continue the practice? No.
It's a lot of pomp for a minor circumstance. The NCAA should word the open of practice thusly: No school shall hold an open-to-the-public team workout before 6 p.m. of the Friday closest to Oct. 15. On that day you may do whatever you like and throw open the doors.
As I Wildcat fan, I can read between the lines here as well: "Those scumbag cheaters at Kentucky are clever, I tell you, but the NCAA should step in and slap down their malefic hind parts right now."
Well, I just got back from 6 hours of sleep in the last 48 and a rather painful business trip up to the land of Maize 'n Brew Dave, but I feel sure I'm not so jaded by sleep deprivation that I can miss the scorn in McClellans paean to NCAA regulation. Everything Kentucky does that is different is unfair because it is a recruiting advantage. Well, duh! Isn't that the goal here? Every school in the nation wants a recruiting advantage within the rules, and if someone else, say, Billy Donovan, had thought of this first, I'll bet we would have seen Dick Vitale columns hailing his brilliance, and McClellan taking a, "Here's one in Billy G's eye," position. Maybe Skwara would have tut-tutted Donovan, but I rather doubt it.
Weak. Pathetic. Whiny. Unfair. Bugger off, Bob. You too, Andrew.
Hat tip: College Fast Break.