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The Big Blue Daily Mail -- News for Kentucky Wildcat fans, May 23rd 2009

The Dagger posts about a kerfuffle over Pat Forde's comments on Outside the Lines, about which Matt Jones at KSR had some comments yesterday.  Frankly, I have just a few quibbles with Forde, the most important one being the suggestion that Kentucky is "desperate," and that's why Barnhart "overlooked" what Forde referred to as "black marks" on Calipari's record.  I have examined the complaints against Calipari in detail, and although I can't pronounce them meritless, I can pronounce them minor, certainly not significant enough to rise to the level of what Forde describes as a "black mark."

But with all that said, Forde's question is legitimate -- Why now and not then?  Clearly, part of it was the pressure Barnhart was feeling over the fact that his choice of Gillispie two years ago did not pan out.  Another part was the undeniable success Calipari was having at Memphis, and the realization that if he could do that at a school like Memphis, what he could do at UK would be beyond special -- and so far, he has been right about that in spades.  Yet another part may have been that Barnhart simply accepted the stories about Calipari at face value, without bothering to dig into them in detail, and when he did he found that there was far less "there" there than he had been led to believe.

I think Forde referring to UK as "desperate" is really unfortunate (although some fans may actually be desperate), but I doubt that Barnhart felt that way and I know I didn't.  That unfortunate choice of words tends to paint UK fans as total "ends justify the means" fanatics, and I reject that out of hand.  Yes, we have our share of fans that care only about victories and damn the process by which those victories come, as long as we don't get caught.  But the vast majority of UK fans really do care, deeply, about the process and would not be interested in hiring somebody like a Kelvin Samson to return UK to the top of college basketball.  John Calipari is clearly not in the same universe as Samson either before or since his sanction by the NCAA when it comes to shadiness in my opinion, no matter what spin Forde and others would put on it.

So what we really have here, in my judgment, is a sportswriter from this area trying to avoid looking like a homer, and it's hard to blame him in the end.  Accentuating the negative and using it to question the motives of UK is the "safe" tack for Forde to take.  Nobody has forgotten that he used to write for the Courier-Journal, and a glowing paean to Calipari's hiring would have generated a ton of commentary decrying the homerism of Forde.  I won't even address his collaberation with Rick Pitino, since I find that neither unusual nor disturbing.

As far as Calipar's Twitter reaction is concerned, I really don't get it.  Calipari has heard all this stuff before, over and over, from -- well, just about everybody.  I am sure Coach Cal thought he could get some good marketing value out of his response, and I really think he did.  But in the big scheme of things, is Calipari really trying to alienate a senior ESPN writer?  I hope not -- part of Coach Cal's success is the terrific relationship he has with the national sports media.  But fair is fair, and if Forde feels the need to take shots at Calipari's record, he can hardly complain when Calipari gives him a sharp Tweet back.  What I would not like to see is a hostile Forde and Calipari going at each other.  I expect both have thicker skins than that, but you never really know.

And now, for the rest of the news (Note:  I will have more to say about the Jeremy Jarmon thing later in a separate post).

UK Basketball News

  • Hoopsworld doesn't think Jodie Meeks will go in the first round mock drafts.  I think this comment is right on:  "However, scouts are worried about him being one dimensional and right now he's not a higher ranked prospect than Marcus Thornton or Wayne Ellington. In Calipari's dribble-drive offense Meeks will be able to expand his game and play a substantial role on a title contending team."
  • This terrific article by Andy Katz describes the process and timing of how John Calipari intends to clarify the roster situation.  Katz also talks about Calipari getting some former UK players like Mohammed, Prince and Rodo (among others to scrimmage with the players this summer.
  • Jerry Meyer of Rivals addresses the UK scholarship situation.  I think he is exactly right.
  • Jerry Tipton speculates on possible scholarship moves.

UK Football News

  • Kentucky's SEC schedule is daunting, but the OOC schedule isn't.

Other UK Sports News

  • UK senior tennis player Bruno Agostinelli advances to the NCAA singles quarter-finals.

NCAA Sports News

  • Who's had the worst off season?  I have a feeling that UK might not have too many fans in western Tennessee these days.
  • This is the other side of the coin -- who has had the best off season?  Guess who rates #1?
  • UponFurtherReview has a look at the race to 2000 wins -- from a KU perspective.  Belive it or not, Kansas is only 18 wins behind UK.
  • Mike DeCourcy explains that nowadays, there are a number of great players available recruiting-wise after the season.

Other News of Interest