I don't have time for a full-blown quickies post this morning, but as we get ready for the last leg of our journey home, there are several things that went on yesterday that deserve to be talked about a bit:
Lane Kiffin got the axe at Southern Cal on the plane trip home from his team's 62-41 loss at Arizona. Kiffin has been controversial from day one of his tenure as head coach at Tennessee, and he has been very, very easy even for the casual fan to dislike, especially after leaving Tennessee in pieces to accept the job at USC.
So far, no reaction from Rocky Top talk, and although it is surely a sin to take pleasure in the misfortunes of others, especially those who have done you no direct harm, I can't help but feel a bit of schadenfruede over this. Kiffin is such a douche that it's impossible to like him, at least from afar.
Dick Vitale is excited about the early start to college basketball practice. So am I, and this is an idea who's time has definitely come. This didn't really get enough discussion from me due to vacation, so this seems an appropriate time to expound on it a bit.
This is the crux of why, and I am in full agreement:
I think it is great to give the players and coaches more time to work together. It will make the product better, as teams will be more cohesive early on. It is a win-win situation.
Indeed, and I think if managed correctly, it can allow coaches to help teams avoid injuries better by allowing them to avoid the infamous "boot camp" scenarios such as the ones run by former UK coach Billy Gillispie that can cause stress reactions.
John Calipari, it seems to me, is on the cutting edge of this kind of practice management, balancing the stress on the body with the physical and mental rigors of practice. The unfortunate thing is that some coaches will use this to make the demands on their players just longer, rather than manage them. That's going to show up in the end, so it's hard to say if it's actually a good thing, overall, when it comes to injury management. It is only good if you understand the problem to begin with, and it's a sure bet that some coaches don't.
There is the potential downside of diluting the Midnight Madness celebrations, as they may now be almost anytime, I suppose, including in September. I don't really think that's a problem, though, because as a nationwide thing, it really wasn't all that interesting. It is really only interesting for the fans directly involved.
Another interesting thing is that it allows schools to schedule their celebrations around the needs of recruits. I know that hasn't been brought to the fore yet, but in previous years, top recruits often had to choose between two competing celebrations. It's now possible for schools to make sure they have no conflicts of scheduling for that one guy they really want. That could be an interesting dynamic in the future.
Mark Story had a long-overdue piece yesterday making the unquestionable case that if college basketball's capital was ever on Tobacco Road or up in Hoosier-ville, there's no longer any doubt at all where it is now — In the Commonwealth of Kentucky:
U of L has made back-to-back Final Four trips. UK has played on college basketball's final weekend twice in the past three years. In 2012, for the first time ever, Kentucky and Louisville faced each other on college basketball's grandest stage.
Since 2008-09, five men's hoops teams from the commonwealth — Murray State, Morehead State, Western Kentucky, and of course UK and U of L — have won at least one NCAA tournament game.
In 2009-10, every men's hoops team from Kentucky that was then playing in NCAA Division I — the five schools listed above, plus Eastern Kentucky — all won more than 20 games.
That had never happened before in state history.
My question is, has any state ever produced such a run of success? I really don't know, but whether it has or not, those days are past. Right now, the Commonwealth is the mecca of college basketball, and that is a fact.
That's all I have for the moment. I'll have some commentary on the Kentucky-Florida game after I've had time to watch it later today. You can use this thread to talk about the game, any of these subjects, or any other interesting sports and/or Kentucky-related stuff.