I have one thing I want to get off my chest about the media coverage in general and the tenor of the national coverage in particular.
Who gives a rip?
I mean, honestly, since when should we care what Dick Vitale, Colin Cowpie or Doug GotCaught think about how Smith was treated by UK fans? They weren't right a week ago, so why are they any more right now?
Look, regular readers know I've been as hard on UK fans as anyone, and perhaps overly so (Some would encourage me to take out the 'perhaps' there). In my defense, what I felt most strongly about was that Kentucky fans were too often focusing on the wrong things, the petty things, the superficial things, in an effort to effect a change I did not feel was coming of their volition.
But in hindsight, the fans may have had one thing more right than I gave them credit for: what's wrong with wanting to win?
Since when did any sports team -- and let's be honest here, while we're talking about college and not professional hoops, we're talking about basketball, not living or dying -- get to be on top of its respective sport for taking mediocrity in stride because its coach was nice or graduating players or donating money to whomever? Those things are key, and should never be discounted, but let's be reasonable: were we really being that unreasonable?
Success on the grandest of stages is fleeting. Who remembers the NC State dynasty of the 1970s or the way Ray Meyer took Depaul to national prominence? Or, more specifically, what recruit or pundit thinks of those schools as nationally renowned programs? No one, that's who.
Kentucky's unsurpassed tradition is one of its selling points, especially to homegrown fans. But such wonderful stories and history have little or no bearing on recruits, on TV contracts and on the zeitgeist as a whole. And, quite frankly, it didn't really seem like Tubby Smith gave two spits about such things.
That's his right. But it's also the fan base's right to question whether ambivalence to the things that made Kentucky what it was when Smith came aboard is acceptable.
So when you're out there, dear UK fans, reading another columnist raking you over the coals for thinking that Kentucky's place in the strata of college hoops was in danger, think about the fact that those columnists tonight and tomorrow and two months from now will have moved on to cover the Pepperdine coaching search or the NBA draft prospects of some 7'3" kid with no game and you'll be worried about 2009 Kentucky recruiting and the new coach's thoughts on fast break basketball and the like.
So who is the expert on KENTUCKY hoops?