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The Big Blue Daily Mail -- Rant Edition

Today seems like a good day to rant.

Of course, every day I come across things in the news that get my dander up, or piques my sense of outrage.  Usually I just ignore them, sometimes refusing even to give them the benefit of a link.  But I haven't ranted in a while, and today seems like a good day for a nice harangue.  In fact, why stop at one?  In the finest A Sea of Blue tradition of giving you great value for your sports dollar, I will produce no less than four short expositions of cognitive vacuity.

The first one that caught my attention was this piece, apparently by an Auburn Aggie blogger who seems to have difficulty comprehending news articles about UK.  This blog post quotes a Boston Globe piece on Barnhart's reasons for not retaining Coach Gillispie, to which the blogger asks this question:

Is Barnhart refering too "cheating," when he speaks about "philosophical differences" and "too little appreciation" for what it takes to run a big-time college program?  I would hope not, but it almost seems like he is saying that what Gillispie did was not good enough, and yet what Calipari has been accused of doing in his prior coaching stops is apparently acceptable [sic].

Assuming this question is genuinely asked, let me help this guy out a bit.  No, Barnhart isn't talking about cheating.  He's talking about the fact that Gillispie's idea of being the UK coach, i.e. occasionally surly demeanor, lack of interest in public relations events, and an apparent inability to grasp the tiny details of being one of the most important people in Lexington, simply did not mesh well with what Barnhart, or Dr. Lee Todd, or most UK fans expected.  Cheating has absolutely nothing to do with it.  So your hopes, dear sir, are fulfilled.

As to the Calipari comment, he has been accused of ... nothing!  That's right, dear Auburn blogger, Coach Calipari has never been implicated or accused in an NCAA scandal by the NCAA or anyone else in authority.  Only the media have these oft-repeated suspicions which not one person or organization has ever been able to produce even the least evidence of.  It is 100% based on proximity to violations that other actors caused.  So I know you will be relieved to learn that UK fans and the Athletics Administration are not rushing out to hire the next Kelvin Sampson.  I'm just glad I could be the one to put your mind at ease.  You can now go back to contemplating matters of actual moment to you like, for example, navel lint.

One down.  Three more to go.

The next article that caught my eye is this one by Mike Miller of MSNBC's Beyond the Arc.  Miller takes note of an AP article lauding the many virtues of 2010 recruit Harrison Barnes, a player of much recent debate here on A Sea of Blue.  In particular, Miller takes issue as follows:

The irritating part comes next when the AP story makes this transition:

So how did the nation's top prep player end up in Ames, a relatively obscure Midwestern college town?

Really? We had to go there? It’s surprising that an elite prep prospect lives in Iowa? Not on the coasts or in the city? Sigh.

What Miller only implies, I will actually say:  This comment represents pure cultural bias.  It essentially expresses shock that a really good basketball player could be found anywhere but in an urban environment, as if big cities are the only place "real" basketball actually takes place.  One has to wonder what sort of editor could be so tone deaf that he would allow a comment like that to pass.  I could go on and on with the problems implicit in that single line of text, but I don't think I need to.  I'm sure you get it.

Moving on to my third mini-rant, we have this story by Adam Zagoria about Lance Stephenson.  Apparently, schools like Kansas and Florida have decided, allegedly for reasons related to Stephenson's "baggage" (not the least of which is a sexual assault charge he is facing) to stop recruiting Stephenson, but Memphis is willing and ready to offer him a ride, presumably pending the outcome of the criminal case.

Can you even imagine the uproar if it were Kentucky and John Calipari instead of Memphis and Josh Paster?  UK would be called the next "Thug U" or some equally absurd pejorative.  But Memphis?  Not a peep, just matter-of-fact reporting.  Note that I am not taking Zagoria to task on this, but rather the sports opinion press.

Finally, there is this piece from a blog I've never heard of, and I'm not really sure the name of.  It is actually a very good article explaining how the NCAA rules allow college coaches, particularly at elite universities, to essentially funnel money to people with influence over the kid by using "elite camps."  This is all perfectly legal, of course, and firmly within the NCAA rules.  Lots of coaches do this.

Do you recall the outrage last year when Billy Gillispie used this exact same mechanism during his recruitment of Daniel Orton?  I do, and in case you have forgotten, here is the link to my commentary on the subject.

What is my beef with all this?  Well, look at the guy who is quoted extensively and even credited by some for inventing the elite camp system -- that's right, boys and girls, none other than the fair-haired one himself, Billy Donovan.  But do we hear outrage?  Not.  We hear crickets.  Is anyone surprised?

Not I.  Now, for the news:


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