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The Roundabout: Friday the 13th edition

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It's time for a trip around the "World Wide Waste of time", as Terry Meiners of WHAS radio here in Louisville used to call it.

First stop -- Jody Demling's blog at the Courier-Journal.  Jody has been doing yeoman's work keeping us up to date on the recruiting trail, and this week he has been at Hoopfest here in town.  I haven't been able to visit, but Jodie has, and has lots of updates regarding the players he has seen there, which include many local products from 2009 and beyond.  Just keep scrolling.

Mark Story of the Herald-Leader launches yet another bitch at Mitch and Rich for moving the UK-UL game.  I have defended this decision from a UK standpoint, and now everyone in the MSM from Story to John Clay to Larry Vaught want to get a second bite at giving the UK brain trust the business.  I wish we could have done with the griping and move along, but sadly, it seems like we are going to be debating this from now until doomsday.

Now that I've rebuked Story, I have to give him a kudos.  In the same article as above, Story looks at Barnhart's performance over the last 5 years, which has a nice tie-in with an analysis I did earlier of Barnhart's performance vis-a-vis the director's cup

What I know: On Sunday, it will be exactly five years since Mitch Barnhart was introduced as the Kentucky athletics director, vowing at the time that UK would "fight to control this state."

What I think: Deep down, Barnhart wishes he'd never set that standard of evaluation for himself.


Without putting too fine a point on it, University of Louisville athletics has owned us overall during Barnhart's tenure, with the notable exceptions of basketball and baseball.  As a Kentucky fan, that does not please me.

In fairness, however, Barnhart had some obstacles to overcome during his tenure that Jurich did not -- probation in football and a moribund women's basketball program that is just now turning around.  Plus, Jurich has been on the job twice as long as Barnhart, so he had a considerable head start.  Still, Barnhart has a considerably bigger athletic budget work with, so I think it is fair to say that his performance to date has not lived up to the lofty standards he set for himself.

I'm finally getting around to looking at a story that has been out there for a couple of days, this one by MSNBC's Ken Davis about Coach Gillispie and his recruiting efforts.  Last week I asked the question "how long will the media continue it's honeymoon [with Gillispie]?"  I think we can safely say the honeymoon period is not yet over, and Davis tells us just that in no uncertain terms:

Three months into his appointment as Kentucky coach, Gillispie's acquisition of talent has become college basketball's hottest story.

That is unquestionably true.  In fact, it almost seems like it has been the hottest story for going on three months now, when Coach Gillispie landed G.J. Villarino for the class of 2009.  How long will the hype continue?  I guess, ultimately, that is up to Gillispie himself.  If he keeps reeling in recruits at this rate, the media will be force to take notice.  But this paragraph contains a note of caution:

When Donovan turned down Kentucky's overtures after Florida won this year's national championship game, Barnhart turned to Gillispie. It turns out the AD's second choice was pretty darned good. Barnhart had to find someone who could recruit. These days that means connecting with great young players -- no matter how young they are.

The truth is it does matter how young they are, which segues me into this story over at The Tide Druid, an Alabama blog.   The author is concerned about the commitment of young athletes like Euton and K.C. Ross-Miller who are technically off-limits for recruiting contacts except when they are actually on campus.  I would agree with the author that this loophole should probably be considered by the NCAA -- it would seem to violate the spirit of the "no recruiting until they are seniors" rule.

Unlike The Tide Druid, I don't see anybody as being "on the hook" or having done anything that isn't inside the letter, if not exactly the spirit, of the rules.  Recruiting of kids younger than juniors seems a very dicey proposition to me, but you can't really blame Gillispie and Floyd for trying to take advantage of what is clearly available to them within the "letter of the law".  Everyone recruits at on-campus camps and has done so for years, but when 14-year old recruits actually start "committing" from there, everyone suddenly gets concerned.  Hmmm ...

NCAA hypocrisy?  Maybe, but the NCAA isn't the only hypocrite in this situation.  Pat Forde at ESPN also chimes in on Wednesday

"In recruiting," said one assistant coach of a top-10 program, "it's all about being first. If you get in on the kid in eighth grade, you're first."

In a field this tenaciously competitive, being first is a powerful incentive. And if you end up first on a kid who doesn't develop, well, it's always easy enough to disengage from a verbal commitment.

Indeed it is, which is a point many have missed.  Verbal commitments are not binding on either party according to NCAA rules, but breaking your word before you even reach college, and putting such a low value on a verbal agreement, isn't exactly the lesson we want to be teaching the young in my opinion.

So what should be done?  I'm not really sure.  On the one hand, I don't think banning coaching camps is the answer.  I suppose the NCAA could forbid the offering of scholarships to players before a certain age, but I'm not sure that is legal, or would be accepted.  Frankly, I haven't necessarily reached the conclusion that offering scholarships to young players at any point in high school is bad, but I believe the line must be drawn somewhere -- Floyd seems to have gone beyond the pale in offering an 8th grader.  Perhaps that is how we should be viewing this story -- where to draw the line.

Well, that's enough for this morning.  More to follow later, including commentary on a couple of articles too long to include here.