Well, would you?
I don't know who the Photoshop® artist is, but if you want credit, please make yourself known to me and I'll make sure you get it. Just awesome. Hat tip: FireTubby.com
Well, the artists are working overtime and the pundits are wildly thrashing about. Apparently, Dick Vitale has irritated some UK fans by loudly suggesting that Donovan should stay where he is, and then proceeded to lump all UK fans in with guys like this.
Well, what can I say? I hate to say, "I told you so", but I told you so. Katman and his ilk have become the face of the UK fan, even though the prime motivator for his wacky videos has moved on to the Minnesota head job. Still, you can find long threads on message boards suggesting lawsuits against those who find Kentucky fans over the top, and even one for a federal restraining order against Dick Vitale for his comments suggesting Donovan should stay put.
Really, this whole thing is becoming quite incredible. The media circus surrounding Donovan and the bizarre behavior of some of the message board posters have combined to make me wonder if maybe it's me that is getting it wrong.
For some strange reason, I am of the opinion that UK is one of the great programs in college basketball, and most of the fans (to the order of 85 or even 90%) are some of the best in any sport at any time. I remember many such fawning comments from Dick Vitale and others while Tubby Smith was still at Kentucky. What has changed?
Well, I am sure most of those advising Donovan to stay put would argue that the fans "drove" Tubby Smith away, and from a purely objective standpoint, it is impossible to deny that a segment of fan behavior toward Smith could arguably have had an impact on his decision. It simply beggars belief to think that a coach would suddenly want to take a huge step down in coaching just for the challenge of reviving a moribund program.
Still, Smith would tell you that the fans didn't drive him away. Why won't the almighty pundits simply take him at his word? And isn't it just possible that the almost unbroken line of critical articles describing Smith as "embattled" had something to do with it? It seems a self-fulfilling prophecy, a big wave that the media helped magnify into the journalistic equivalent of a tsunami.
I can think of no group of fans in modern history who have been so widely praised and so widely pilloried, virtually at the same time, as UK fans. The situation is simply a sports writer's dream come true - a program with a huge fan base of which a small minority is so over the top and so loud that you can point to them as representative of the whole and mercilessly castigate them, either implicitly or explicitly, as racist hayseeds to almost universal acclamation.
But the really funny thing is those continually posing the question, "Why would Billy Donovan want to leave the idyllic confines of his Gainesville fiefdom for, in the immortal words of Rick Pitino, the "Roman empire of college basketball?" Nobody says that Donovan shouldn't go there because he cannot handle the pressure, or because he isn't likely to succeed. Rather, they are asking why anybody would deliberately march into what many pundits see as the lion's den.
Answer: See the question. Donovan is the Lord of Gainesville. In Kentucky, he could be the Emperor of all college basketball. The real question is this: Is he up to the challenge?
Update [2007-4-2 12:50:12 by Truzenzuzex]:In an unrelated story, Dana Altman, head coach of Creighton, has been hired as the new coach of Arkansas.