Kentucky Basketball: Greg Doyell On John Calipari And The Anthony Davis Accusations

The irrepressible Gregg Doyell strikes again, this time in an interview with Larry Glover on Larry Glover Live.  As usual, Doyel is lively, irreverent and opinionated.  The podcast of the segment talking about Calipari is here.

Here are some of the interesting parts about Kentucky.

  • In a response to Glover about how UK is perceived, Doyell said he was really harsh on Tubby Smith when he was coach at UK and Doyell was actually covering college basketball for CBS rather than writing opinion pieces like he does now.  He said that fan hate mail made it harder for writers to like the Big Blue Nation.
  • In re:  Chicago Sun-Times second story, Doyell said, "Unless the Sun-Times' reporter is Woodward or Bernstein, there is no way they got three different D-I coaches to say anything like that."  He went on further to say that Gary Parrish, Jeff Goodman, Andy Katz and Mike DeCourcy could not get three D-I coaches to "tell them on or off the record about that level of cheating," and there was no way that a Chicago reporter could, either.
  • Doyell believes that Michael O'Brien (whom he says he does not know at all) is "tied to the University of Illinois," and that, "...if anybody is behind this, [Illinois head coach Bruce] Weber is behind it."  His reasoning?  Weber "...doesn't lose very well, and he unfortunately loses recruits left and right.  Nobody loses more recruits than Bruce Weber.  That oughta be on his Coat of Arms."

    Doyel went on to say that he thinks Weber is a bad recruiter "...because frankly, he's a dork."  He thinks that Weber fed something to O'Brien, and O'Brien ate it up.
  • Doyell thinks Calipari is fair game in the sense that he had two Final Fours vacated, but does not believe that Calipari knew anything about Marcus Camby at UMass or Derrick Rose at Memphis.  According to Doyell, "Until otherwise proven, I believe in Cal."
  • Doyell does not believe it is possible for Calipari to cheat at the level his accusers claim.  He compares it to the conspiracy theories about the U.S. Government's alleged secret labs investigating alien encounters:  "His [Calipari's] nickname aught to be Area 51. ... There are some secrets that are so enormous that they couldn't possibly be kept. ... Same with Calipari.  For twenty years, If he was as dirty as everybody wants to say his, at the level he's won at, he would be out."

There is much more in this interview worth listening to, and there are parts that I have not included that were both funny and enlightening.  You really should listen to the whole thing.

I'll have further thoughts on this after the jump.

First of all, I think Doyell's comments on this point are right on the money, and accurately reflect my feelings about Coach Cal.  The vacated Final Fours are the main weapons of his detractors, and because of the broad reaching and enormous impact of vacating a successful NCAA tournament run and the implication that the team only got to that point by cheating, that will never change. 

It is also true that many college sports fans have irrationally decided to blame the coach for unethical actions by their players when it comes to NCAA rules violations, but ignore unethical and illegal actions by players who wind up in trouble with the law as commentary on a coach's leadership or character. To wit:

ESPN college football analyst Jesse Palmer, who played quarterback at Florida from 1997 until 2000, defended Meyer in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel.

"[Urban] can't be out at the clubs at 1 a.m. monitoring these guys," Palmer told the Sentinel. "I think it's an internal accountability issue where these players might think they are invincible after the national title. Everybody's patting them on the back and you feel like you can do anything."

Indeed.  Yet if these were NCAA improprieties, I guarantee you there would be a line from Gainesville to Los Angeles of people anxious to call for Meyer's head. It is as though cheating in life is not as bad as cheating on sports.  A strange commentary on our society, in my view. 

But back to Doyell's comments.  I offer no opinion on his view that Bruce Weber was at least one of the people behind the accusations by O'Brien, except to say that it has the benefit of being logical.  I don't know enough about Weber to have an opinion on Doyell's judgment of him as a "dork" or a lousy recruiter, but he does seem to lose a lot of high-profile recruiting battles, and it's likely that makes him frustrated and possibly even vindictive.

Be that as it may, I will promise you this, as I have before:  College coaches are not going to sit still and let Calipari take his pick of the litter every year from the top 25 -- they just aren't.  If you want to see this as the beginnings of a push-back against Coach Cal, I would say that you are looking at it correctly.

It will not stop there, however.  If Calipari starts winning national championships, there will be an organized effort by opposing coaches to stop him, using the NCAA or any other means necessary.  Some will eschew such tactics, but there will be many, and some of them will be powerful, who will stop at nothing to derail the Calipari express, ethics be damned.  They will convince themselves that Calipari must be cheating, and therefore, anything goes. 

It will happen.  Take it to the bank.  You have been warned.

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