Today, Dicky V came out strongly against the Chicago Sun-Times story that has been the buzz of the Big Blue Nation for quite a while. I discussed that story in depth with Unleash The Rage last night, and if you want to hear my comments, most of which are a rehash of my comments here in one form or another with a wrinkle here and there, you can find the link to the file here. It is also offered as a podcast for your convenience. I dominate the entire first half of the show, so you don't have to go surfing through to find me there.
But back to Dicky V. He offers this:
The article claimed that a package was put together for Davis, in excess of $200,000, in an effort to get him to commit to Kentucky.
Give me a break. Do you really think that transpired? Kentucky has many selling points of its own, starting with a beautiful, state-of-the-art practice facility. There is Rupp Arena, a place which creates blue hysteria. There is the rich winning tradition, which itself attracts blue chip athletes, Players want to go to a winner and it also helps when five of your players went in the first round of the most recent NBA draft.
Vitale gets this exactly right. Kentucky has a ton of incentives to offer, not the least of which is a coach with a proven track record of getting players drafted in the top five. That is going to appeal more to the super-recruits of today than all the tradition, facilities and game-time atmosphere combined, but those things are no doubt a nice bonus.
It doesn't really take a rocket scientist to figure out the most likely source of the claims of impropriety are schools chagrined by the fact that Cal seems to be getting all the hot recruits, just like guys will be jealous of other guys who seem to attract hot women -- it's just pure human nature in its lowest form. How do I know this? We used to be the same way at Kentucky when Ol' Roy and others were sucking up the recruits Tubby Smith was breaking his neck for. How many times have I read "Cheetah" threads on Big Blue boards and blogs in those days? Many.
But Dicky V's article is surely not enough for me to make the conclusion in my lede, n'est ce pas? So there must be more, right? Yeah. Follow me past the jump.
Comes now Gary Parrish, he of the "I hope the suit happens but I'll bet it doesn't" argument of just yesterday, with another piece claiming that college basketball players secretly like agents, but college football players hate them. To wit:
That's the dirty truth about NCAA hoops, the main difference between college basketball and college football. Football coaches gain very little, and perhaps nothing, from agents hovering around their programs because agents don't typically deliver football prospects to colleges given that agents don't normally get involved with football prospects until after football prospects already are in college. Basketball is the exact opposite. The fact that it's relatively simple to identify future NBA players at an early age combined with the fact that those players can enter the NBA draft after only one year of college has created a culture where agents fund AAU programs, develop relationships with teenagers, and seize control of many elite prospects well before college coaches even get seriously involved.
No matter what I think about his conclusion, he's definitely got this part nailed. It is far, far easier to figure out which hoops players are going to excel at the next level at an early age than football players. It's mostly just the nature of the sport, but an in-depth explanation is beyond the scope of this piece and, anyway, should be obvious.
Then, there is this little bomb:
The idea that John Calipari would be shoveling massive amounts of cash to a family is silly, and anybody who thinks that's the way this stuff works is ignorant to the process. A more likely scenario -- and I'm not implying this happened in the Davis case; I'm just explaining how something like this might happen -- would have an agent taking care of a family and seizing control of the recruitment, then cutting a deal with a school's staff to send the player to the school in exchange for help when it comes time for any other future pros on that school's roster to formally select representation.
I think maybe I am just paranoid, but does this not call a certain someone directly to mind, who's first initial is a W? Oh, yes, I'm sure you didn't need that hint. So what Parrish is suggesting (not saying, mind you) is that this would be a tailor-made situation for Calipari because of his association with William Wesley. He never says it, but the implication is unmistakable.
I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time debunking Parrish's theory -- it could be happening and there is no way to prove a negative. All I know is that John Wall came to UK against the wishes of the guy who wound up involved in his representation, and I think that says more than any conspiracy theories that Parrish can dream up.
At the end of the day, it's funny how this has gone from being about "someone" with UK interests to being about Calipari. It's no surprise, really, and in fact, it is totally predictable. But in the end, I think what we have here is a bunch of sour grapes from loser schools that has become a story because of the abject failure of an editor at the Chicago Sun-Times to do his job, and now Coach Cal must pay the price.