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When you look up "pretentious" in the dictionary ...

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... you find this guy's picture there.

Now, the old saying goes that they who live in glass houses ought to avoid throwing stones, but sometimes the target is just too tempting to ignore.  Chris Diggs took issue with some snarky comments Tom Heiser made the other day, and he responds with this post.

Anyone who reads me knows that I am fond of throwing in some high-toned rhetoric, including a number of polysyllabic words, and even the occasional Latin phrase.  But Heiser has my act beat with:

He also blustered on about my disabused notion that UK basketball doesn't belong in the same breath currently with North Carolina, Duke and UCLA, prompting this chunk of Asimovian reality:

Well.  Asmovian reality is just right there in my mind, waiting to be plucked by his erudite turn of phrase.  But can you imagine Louisville fans when they read this?  Is "The Thinker" the image that pops into your head when you visualize your average Cardinal fan?  Maybe it's just me.

More after the jump ...

But that's not all.  In the same post, we have this beauty:

Any time UK's status in the SEC is mentioned, the hammer-to-the-knee reaction is to champion the conference's lofty status as one of the preeminent, if not the preeminent, leagues in the country. No argument here. I'll never dispute the SEC's place at the top of the football food chain. To quote ex-Communist Arthur Koestler:

You can't help being right for the wrong reasons. This fear of finding oneself in bad company is not an expression of [political] purity; it's an expression of a lack of self confidence.

I don't know about you, but when I think of Arthur Koestler, I draw a blank.  Maybe the Cardinal fans are fond of ex-Communists' sayings, but somehow I think this about as apropos to sports as Brittany Spears dressed as a Knight of the Round Table and subbing for Uga VII at The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.  Your mileage may vary, though.

As to the substance of his remarks, Heiser points out in defense of his argument that the SEC is not better than the Big East, because of this:

The argument that I've tried to make is that SEC superiority as a conference is insupportable, if not irrelevant, in matchups on the field. Not only has U of L regularly stifled UK over the majority of the last eight years, but South Florida and West Virginia have made great play with the likes of Georgia and Auburn.

Tom, your facts are accurate, but they support some other argument, not the one you are trying to make.  The Big East has had relatively good success against the SEC in head-to-head games, but when we look at the body of work, those little data points fall into utter irrelevance.

Between 1991 (when the Big East was formed) and 2007, here are the post-season records of each conference:

Big East: Not so good.
Team Bowls 1991-2007 Wins Losses W/L% % Bowls
West Va. 11 3 8 0.27 0.65
Uconn 1 1 0 1 0.06
Cincinnati 6 3 3 0.5 0.35
USF 2 1 1 0.5 0.12
Rutgers 2 1 1 0.5 0.12
Louisville 11 5 6 0.45 0.65
Pittsburgh 6 2 4 0.33 0.35
Syracuse 9 6 3 0.67 0.53
Total 48 22 26 0.46 0.35


SEC: Markedly superior in every way, even though Vandy has bupkis.
Team Bowls 1991-2007 Wins Losses W/L% % Bowls
LSU 10 8 2 0.8 0.59
Georgia 13 10 3 0.77 0.76
Tennessee 16 8 8 0.5 0.94
Florida 16 8 8 0.5 0.94
Auburn 10 6 4 0.6 0.59
Arkansas 9 2 7 0.22 0.53
Miss. St. 6 2 4 0.33 0.35
Alabama 12 7 5 0.58 0.71
Kentucky 4 1 3 0.25 0.24
S. Carolina 5 4 1 0.8 0.29
Vanderbilt 0 0 0 0 0
Ole Miss 8 6 2 0.75 0.47
Total 109 62 47 0.57 0.53


So tell me, Tom -- what would Arthur Koestler have to say about that?

Bottom line -- Chris Diggs is right, and no matter how you try to spin it, Tom Heiser is .... well, not.  In basketball, the Big East is definitely somebody.  In football, they are just barely above Conference USA.  Those are the facts, and they should be undisputed.

But to the ultimate, larger point about Kentucky, Heiser is right.  The fact of the SEC's strength does not make Kentucky a good team.  Historically, we are a placemat in the SEC -- not as bad as Vandy, but certainly not what anyone would call a success.  As to whether or not Louisville would have done better in the SEC than Kentucky during the Brohm years, that is a question that will remain forever academic.

But would Louisville have done better than Kentucky in the SEC last year?  I rather doubt it, considering they had trouble in the inarguably weaker Big East, lost to Kentucky and couldn't even get to a bowl, and as I recall, Brohm was still there.  As to this year, we'll have to wait and see.  But instead of advancing the ball past the 20, I'd say Tom is pinned inside his own 5.