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A Basketball Tale of Two Cities - Louisville and Lexington

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on it's being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. - Charles Dickens

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billie-whitelaw-still-from-a-tale-of-two cities

While Lexington and the University of Kentucky were featured on ESPN for its NBA combine, Midnight Madness, a new book about the 2009-2010 season and the constant attention that comes with being Kentucky and John Calipari, Louisville and the namesake university are reacting to a book about recruiting and strippers.

While Kentucky’s public relations is at an all-time high for positives, Louisville’s public relations has been stained by The Scandal which is turning out to be one of my top three bizarre scandals of all-time (Penn State’s Sandusky scandal and North Carolina’s fake classes scandal being the other two). These three scandals are bizarre because they are unique in their own way, meaning we’ve not seen anything like them before.

I’ve spent the last seven days accumulating links regarding the scandal and you can tell that this isn’t going away. The media is keeping it alive while the Cardinal fan base goes through denial.

Head in the sand

The latest

Andre McGee resigns: Former Louisville staffer resigns as UMKC assistant coach – Gary B. Graves, A/P

Rick Pitino is skipping ACC media day, but Louisville is still sending two players – Ricky O’Donnell, SB Nation

The Growing Media Consensus

When Yahoo’s Pate Forde broke the Louisville Sex Scandal story, the college basketball world was shocked. If you’ll recall, he broke his story around 5:00 PM on a Friday (Oct. 2nd) which is a typical White House way of putting out bad news. Every White House occupant has used this tactic.

The fact is that the University and Rick Pitino have known about the scandal since August. I think one can legitimately wonder is Louisville AD Tom Jurich used Forde to break the story since he is a known "friend of the program" after co-authoring a book (Rebound Rules: The Art of Success 2.0) with Rick Pitino.

Tom Jurich and Rick Pitino (see Pitino’s Speech) almost immediately held a press conference where they both expressed shock and sadness about the charges put forth by Katina Powell in her book to be published. Both denied any knowledge about the allegations put forth Ms. Powell. Neither, however, denied the allegations.

Since the story broke, the national media has jumped on it in a big way. The Outside The Lines story provided more details which has prompted the national media consensus that Pitino has to go. Here is just one:

Rick Pitino has to go as details of Louisville sex parties emerge – Nancy Amour, USA Today

The talking heads at ESPN have wondered out loud just how Pitino could NOT know considering the majority of the parties were held in a secure athletic dorm which had monitors. Sports Center has spent a lot of time on this story. Ms. Powell and her daughters will appeared on The View after already appearing on Good Morning America.

And another three, or four, or five:

The Audible: Louisville is Running a Rogue Athletic Department – Fox Sports

Rick Pitino wil survive Louisville stripper scandal thanks to selective Amnesia – Linda Robertson, The Miami Herald.

Slick Rick deserves to be benched during scandal – Paul Newberry, A/P

Pitino ducking ACC’s media day during scandal a gutless move – Mike DeCourcy, The sporting News

Pitino silent, but the players have to talk? That’s not right – Myron Metcalf, ESPN

Contrary to what some believe – What allegedly happened at Louisville is rare – Garry Parrish, CBS Sports

Some in the media believe Louisville exploits women in a bad way:

Louisville Basketball and the NCAA’s Political Economy of Misogyny

He (Pitino) has his defenders in the national media:

Rick Pitino Is Not The Enemy Right Now – Jason Whitlock, Fox Sports

This is a pure case of "accuse the accuser", another trick used by politicians. Sometimes it works.

Minnesota's Richard Pitino defends father in Louisville scandal – A/P, author unknown

Lexington’s media, in the form of John Clay at the Lexington Herald-Leader has chimed in:

For the good of the Louisville basketball program, Pitino has to go – John Clay

The surprising thing is that the Louisville media also believes that the time has come:

This is one mess that Pitino can’t fix – Rick Bozich, WDRB

Katina Powell to ESPN: The side deals were sex – Eric Crawford, WDRB

Rick Pitino’s time expiring at U of L - Tim Sullivan, The Louisville Courier-Journal

Tom Jurich announced that Rick Pitino has no plans to leave Louisville and let it go at that. What he didn’t say was Louisville can fire him under his contract’s morals clause. UL President initially came out in support of Tom Jurich, but somehow forgot to mention Pitino. This week he came forth with tepid support.

Louisville and the circling of the wagons

Here’s some stories that will bring you to tears:

Louisville Man – Mark Blankenbaker, The Crunch Zone

Former William Wesley Acquaintance: Woman Behind Louisville Basketball Sex Scandal Has a Backer – Michael Miller, The Pasadena Post

Muhammad Ali issues statement of support for Rick Pitino, Louisville basketball - Mike Rutherford, Card Chronicle.

All fans should support their school, no matter what. When Kentucky went through our own scandal and NCAA probation, I never stopped supporting our teams. I never doubted, however, that Sutton and Hagan got caught cheating and Dwayne Casey was the fall guy. Ultimately, Sutton and Hagan were fired. Some fans still think what happened never happened. If you can’t remember how Louisville fans took great joy in our troubles, you have CRS Disease.

Then, there’s this, a real tear jerker:

Good Times, Bad Times: A Message from Rick Pitino’s Nephew – Mike Rutherford, Card Chronicle

Things seem to be going from the sublime to the ridiculous:

(UL) Student sues for profits from Powell book

Meanwhile, here's a screen shot at Saturday's ESPN College Game Day:

College Game Day

BBN’s Reactions

On the basketball forum at Cats Illustrated, there is a poll which shows that 60% of those taking the poll want Pitino’s banner at Rupp taken down. Look, Pitino won a championship at Kentucky. What has happened and is happening at Louisville has no bearing on what Pitino did at UK. Every coach at Kentucky who has or will win a national championship deserves a banner. It’s what we do.

ASoB’s Greg Alan Edwards has posted his thoughts in a Fan Post over at Card Chronicle. From the Outside Looking In – Seeing Red and Feeling Blue. Like all of us, he’s got an opinion.

Most of us have read the comments of at least three articles here at ASOB. There are those that are sad, and those that see what is going on is "just desserts." What is interesting is best shown in two articles at Kentucky Sports Radio, one by Drew Franklin and the other by Bryan the Intern. Both are worth reading due to their different perspectives and they may reflect how the BBN really thinks since both opinions are based on personal experience.

I might remind everyone that we are all entitled to our opinions. That being said, opinions are opinions and not facts.

Questions, questions, questions

You have to wonder about Louisville’s Board of Trustees. There doesn’t, on the surface, appear to be any lack of tolerance for the current or past goings on. Kentucky Governor, Steve Beshear, appoints members of the Board. There hasn’t been any reaction, to my knowledge, regarding the scandal.

Where did the $10,000 for McGee to spend on strippers come from? Will that ever become known?

Where is/was John Carns in this mess? Carns is the Senior Associate Athletic Director for Compliance. How could he not know about the parties at Linardi Hall? Isn’t compliance his job? Or, where is/was Matt Banker, Associate Athletic Director for Compliance? Did these guys look the other way or were they just asleep at the wheel?

Andre McGee resigned his position and denies the allegations. Does Rick Pitino really want him to tell what he knows? Will McGee be the fall guy? Will he willingly fall on his sword for Pitino and Jurich?

I wonder how the Atlantic Coast Conference feels about the situation at the newest conference member? Dead silence so far.

Did Rick Pitino know or did he not know? Most of the pundits wonder how he could not know. Does it even matter? I wonder which is more damaging – knowing or not knowing? Regardless, Pitino is responsible for his basketball program and Jurich and his compliance staff are responsible for compliance.

What will become of Katina Powell? According to her attorney, she’s been forced into hiding due to death threats.

Finally, will Louisville self-impose penalties on behalf of the NCAA kike UNC and Syracuse?

Break out your Movie Theater Buttered Popcorn. This future movie may last awhile. Will Al Pacino still be alive to play the main character?

All I can say is that every one of us has a good side and a dark side. It is human nature. How we deal with these is a choice and we’ve all done things that we’ve regretted. Some of us learn from our mistakes and some of us don’t. What we should learn is that our actions have consequences, some good and some bad. Most of us learn and move on while others keep rationalizing, seeking to blame others for our own failures. Again, it is human nature. For Rick Pitino and the University of Louisville, the damage has been done no matter the outcome. Basketball recruiting will suffer for a while and the school will suffer in the public eye. It will take years to overcome that.

"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!"