One of the pet peeves of all college sports fans is the concept of "vacated wins." It's easy to see how the theory behind vacated wins works, harder to see how they really matter to anyone. Despite the NCAA's demand that Kentucky vacate its celebration of John Calipari's 500th win since it includes some victories that the NCAA ordered obliterated, it seems that Coach Cal's 500 wins are in fact alive and well on the ESPN website.
Thanks to the work done by Eleven Warriors, a very good Ohio St. Buckeys blog who researched the matter, it seems that ESPN is about as diligent as Dennis Thomas, chairman of the NCAA Committee on Infractions, when it comes to making sure the rules are applied fairly and equally. Here you can see Memphis, sitting pretty on ESPN's website at 38-2 for 2007-08. Yep, it's there.
Then, you go over to the Ohio St. Buckeyes football page, and you find them at a not-quite-so-impressive 0-1 for their 2010 campaign. Yes, that's right -- ESPN has "vacated" Ohio State's 12-1 season (except for the 1 loss, of course), and somehow managed to ignore Memphis' NCAA mandated 0-2 season for the last three years running. Of course, there are other examples that Eleven Warriors cites, including the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets' recently ordered vacation of its three final 2009 games.
Now, you may ask, "Why should we care?" Well, maybe you shouldn't. After all, it doesn't affect Kentucky, not really, except in the matter of the 500 win thing which has been settled now no matter what ESPN's website says. But it does seem passing strange that an organization that styles itself a trusted source for news can't get these little details right. I would understand if they were just a random school blog or fan site like A Sea of Blue -- we try to get it right, but generally we lack the manpower and time to make sure every single "I" is dotted and "T" is crossed.
You have to admit, this does look bad, and it looks like Barad-dûr is biased against OSU, even if they probably aren't. Truthfully, the OSU story was much, much, much bigger than the Georgia Tech story, and that's undoubtedly part of it. It's harder to explain the Memphis thing, though, as that was a huge story that struck just as Calipari was moving to UK.
I think the OSU fans have a beef coming here. ESPN should either update their site to reflect all the vacated wins, or none of them. I'm fine either way. Dennis Thomas can pound sand. He doesn't get a say.
Hey, ESPN -- how about at least elevating yourself above the level of Thomas? That's a bar that even Papa Smurf could probably clear.