Kentucky Basketball: Dan Dakich Trolls The Big Blue Nation In Response To Calipari

Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

Dan Dakich just can't seem to deal with reality.

This is somewhat old news now, but Calipari caused a stir in the media by taking what appeared to be a shot at the Indiana Hoosiers:

We don't have obnoxious -- well, we may, but I never hear them -- but we don't treat the other team with disrespect. If we won a game against the No. 1 team in the country in Rupp Arena, would people charge the court? No. You're supposed to (win.) You're Kentucky. We don't do that here."

First of all, yes, we do have obnoxious fans. Every fan base has them, and Kentucky no less than Indiana or Louisville or anyplace else. Let's just get that straight. I'm not going to sit here and claim our fans are classier than the next school, because I've seen too many examples to the contrary.

But be that as it may, let's review what happened. Back in 2011, Indiana beat Kentucky on a last-second shot by Christian Watford. There were numerous stories written about how over-the-top Indiana fans were, mostly by Kentucky media, but the most damning was written by Larry Vaught, a long-respected sportswriter who has a penchant for being fair in the face of over-the-top partisanship. As a testament to this, Vaught wrote on his blog in response to a reader's complaint about Assembly Hall:

Marilyn, that is awful. So many horror stories keep coming out. consider myself lucky to have had the students I did behind me during the game. They cheered in the right way, much like students do in the E-Rupp-tion Zone at UK

Vaught praised the student behavior, and from what we have been able to determine, most of the poor behavior came from adults, not students. That just makes it worse, in my view.

Indiana fans have poo-pooed the affair as the inevitable result of a team returning to prominence from a long dry spell. But Kentucky had four years of national irrelevance starting in 2006 and ending in 2010. When we beat North Carolina in Rupp Arena in 2011, no Kentucky fans rushed the floor, or spat on patrons from the opposing team. Kentucky fans didn't react as if they were collective combatants in an MMA match.

Dan Dakich, former IU coach, then popped off on Twitter, an exchange that was largely overwhelmed by the news about Bobby Petrino's impending hire at UL. Here's most of how it went:

This pretty much speaks for itself, Dakich is just trolling the UK fans for responses. In response to his points I offer the following:

  • I can't say that Dakich correctly represented Calipari's thinking, but if so, it's hard to blame him.  I will certainly cop to holding the view that UK should not play IU in Bloomington because of how their fans behaved last time.  IU fans were better behaved in the days of Bobby Knight, Rick Pitino, Joe B. Hall and Tubby Smith. Whether due to a dry spell or not, nobody wants to come to a place where they might be physically attacked. That did happen last time.  To quote an old saying, "There is no education in the second kick of a mule."

  • All this "scared" talk is disrespectful of his own fan base. Nobody is scared to play before a crowd of fans who just enjoy basketball. Nobody wants to come into the middle of a rampaging mob and do anything, especially the object of the mob's anger. Any rational person would decline such an opportunity.

  • Can anybody explain the "KU/UK" thing Dakich has going on?  Is it that he doesn't know that the University of Kansas is referred to as "KU," and that the University of Kentucky as "UK?"  Is this a source of confusion to him or something?  Nobody else at ESPN, or in the basketball commentariat in general seem to have trouble with this.  I'd chalk it up to age, but I'm older than Dakich (better looking, too) and have no age-related or other cognitive difficulty in sorting out these almost universally understood acronyms.

  • The "pretend Playmate" shot at an innocent young woman injured in the melee is blatantly unethical. Dakich should be ashamed. The likelihood he isn't is damning.

  • Nobody except maybe for the silliest of our fans has really bought the argument that IU is "irrelevant," the are a legendary program and are always going to be relevant to college basketball.  Frankly, I think that for the most part, Dakich just picking some things he's heard out of the blue that support his argument and ascribing it to Calipari and UK fans in general.

  • When you declare that fans throwing coins at each other made a series "the best series ever," you have forfeited all credibility on the subject.  Also, Dakich's entire internet tough guy act is beyond risible.

  • Yeah, Dan, it is trolling.  Calipari's comments don't require a response from you, a supposed sports personality.  The facts are the facts, and taunting Calipari and Kentucky fans in general and fan websites in particular is transparently trolling.  Perhaps Dakich, despite his Twitter rant, really doesn't get the whole Internet sports culture near as much as he imagines he does.

I think that's enough, and really, this is just Dakich trying to provoke people to grow his audience in Indiana. For the most part, UK fans didn't take the bait on twitter, but of course, a few did.  I thought it deserved mention because a guy like Dakich, who presumably is supposed to be neutral or at least fair when he has his "journalist" hat on decided to demonstrate that he is little more than a petulant child.  It doesn't look very good on a 51-year old man to make commentary worthy of a teenager.

The thing that bugs me is that despite this sordid nastiness, Dakich gets to call games for ESPN. I think that's a travesty, but then again, perhaps it's good business for ESPN, I'm not really qualified to say. If nothing else in the last few days, we've learned that sports ethics is an oxymoron.  Perhaps this is just another example.

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