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Feinstein On The Brink ... Of Encephalic Detonation

One definition of insanity is said to be doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  Whether you agree with that or not, it is commonly used to display the logical flaws in not making changes to a given process when the process doesn't work.

John Feinstein wants to give us yet another common example of how one's sanity can be questioned: "Ignore reality and maybe it will go away."  Let's begin with this blog post of today:

Then there is the not-so-good-guy/overdog division: U-Conn and Kentucky. As it happens, I like both Jim Calhoun and John Calipari. I think they’re both superb coaches. They get kids who have one eye on the doorway to the NBA—if not two—to play hard all the time.

Can't you just feel the "Damning But" coming?  Whenever somebody says things like, "As it happens I like so-and-so," or "Contrary to popular opinion, I think such-and-such is very likeable," you just know a Damning But is coming right at your phiz.  Feinstein doesn't disappoint:

But the fact is Calhoun and Connecticut have just been convicted by the NCAA of major recruiting violations and got off with a wrist-slap because they’re a big-time TV program. That’s how it works and we all know it.

Well, there you are, that pesky DB.  This is known to us fans of logic as the "appeal to common sense" fallacy.  Feinstein is telling us with a wink and nod that we all know the NCAA is corrupt and panders to the big programs.  Yeah, I'll bet USC would agree with that.  Kentucky fans are likely to find this "common sense" to be less than persuasive also.

I am not going to comment on the punishment of Calhoun.  The NCAA did what it did, and frankly, nobody ever seems to agree that it was harsh enough or nuanced enough, depending on where you stand.  For this article, frankly, it is irrelevant, because agreement about UConn's punishment is anything but common, let alone common sense.

But this is a Kentucky blog, and you know I wouldn't take Feinstein to task over an irrational quip about the Connecticut Huskies.   You did see the other "Cal" mentioned in that first paragraph, right?  To continue:

The other fact is this—although you will never hear it mentioned on CBS or ESPN— Calipari has overseen two programs that have had Final Four appearances vacated.

Does anybody in here agree with this?  I have heard the "vacated Final Fours" mentioned on dozens of occasions in the sports broadcast media of every type, and virtually no publication on earth has produced a story including, let alone about, Calipari in the last week or two without mentioning this fact, including CBS and ESPN.  So Feinstein's "fact" is transparently no such thing, and he would have to be living off the grid not to know it.  Since he publishes a blog as well as writing for the Washington Post, that excuse simply isn't available to him. 

There is much more:

PLEASE don’t give me the morning pitchmen line from today: "Well, um, Calipari had two programs that, um, had some problems, HE didn’t have problems, the programs did…" Right, he was an innocent bystander. COME ON! And we all know Kentucky’s history. (Go ahead Kentucky fans, explain how your program has NEVER done anything wrong and this is all about me not liking Kentucky.).

I think most of you know where I am going with this, but let's start with the most obvious.  I'm not going to go all defensive on Calipari again, except to point out that the NCAA explicitly exonerated Calipari of blame in the UMass case, and UMass is no "big-time TV program."  There are some problems in the Memphis case that Calipari deserves some criticism for, namely the free travel and lodging afforded Reggie Rose.  As Kentucky fans, we should at least be disappointed by that, even though the NCAA did not find that it was Calipari's fault.  It's even likely Calipari had no clue, but he shouldn't have been allowing Rose to travel with the team.

Second of all, Calipari was not at Kentucky when UK had it's NCAA issues, so it's hard to see what his point is.  I suppose what he means is that UK, given its history of NCAA trouble, is doing something ethically wrong by mere fact of hiring Calipari, or is somehow certain to do them again with Calipari at the helm.  "Common" sense, I'm sure.

Finally, we come to his challenge to Kentucky fans in the parenthetical last sentence, although the purpose of the parenthesis eludes me.  Everyone knows that we here at A Sea of Blue own up to our favorite team's NCAA lawlessness, and none of us take any pride in the fact of it.  With that said, I think it's worth pointing out that the most recent misdeeds Kentucky is guilty of happened over 20 years ago.

Feinstein does not seem to care about this, nor about any of the recent articles that have detailed Kentucky's diligence in the hiring of Calipari.  But most of all, his implication that this isn't about him not liking Kentucky is hardly believable when you consider that Feinstein is #1 on the "Kentucky Detractors" list by Jon Scott, noted Kentucky basketball historian and occasional contributor to A Sea of Blue.  The proof of Feinstein's dislike for Kentucky is so incredibly lengthy and overwhelming that it cannot be argued against, even by giving Feinstein the benefit of the doubt on every close call.  I suppose he could argue he has changed his opinion -- good luck with that one, John.

The reality is that Feinstein is a Duke partisan who cannot stand Kentucky, and that is what drives this fallacious and indefensible commentary -- namely the fact that his favorite school was rudely dismissed from the tournament as a #1 seed while Kentucky remains. In sports vernacular, this is often called, "sour grapes," and is a notable form of bad sportsmanship.  He used Calhoun and Calipari as foils to get to Kentucky, another failure of sportsmanship.

Of course, I suppose we should expect nothing less from him -- if he really tried to hide it he would be called out by practically everyone, so he just tries to fool the clueless into thinking that ascribing bias to the great John Feinstein is something only UK fans would do.   In truth, though, it is undeniable by anyone with an IQ greater in absolute value than Feinstein's shoe size.