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Kentucky Basketball: Derek Anderson Regrets The Tone Of His Remarks About John Calipari, And The Response Of Some Fans

Derek Anderson made some awkward comments about Coach Cal, and suffered a disproportionate response.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

You’ll no doubt remember Derek Anderson’s criticism of John Calipari last weekend primarily relating to the idea that he should keep players longer by trying to convince them to stay, a concept that not only violates Calipari’s word to the recruits, but also the "players first" commitment to them and their family. We reacted to his comments here on A Sea of Blue mainly by pointing out the inconsistencies with reality in his comments. But they were surely heartfelt and not really all that controversial. I have seen them expressed more or less comprehensively on this site and elsewhere.

Anderson has been an outstanding representative of the Big Blue Nation, and his only "crime" was to criticize Coach Cal, for which he was subjected to significant — and occasionally shrill — criticism, particularly by the "Twitter shamers" and Big Blue Justice Warriors on social media. At A Sea of Blue, we disagreed with many of his conclusions and some of his facts, but we defended his right to say them and his place in the Big Blue Nation.

Anderson has now defended his remarks on Cameron Mills' blog. He mostly apologizes for being artless in his observations, but not for the content of them. He suggests some people took them as personal criticism of Calipari, which I think is right, and insists they were merely his opinion of Calipari’s coaching. He also apologizes to Dakari Johnson, insisting it is only his opinion that players should not "rush" to the NBA.

For my part, I’m fine with that. Who among us hasn’t had the occasion to use Calipari’s name in vain when he does something or says something that we don’t agree with? It’s part and parcel of being a sports fan, and if Anderson feels moved to take Coach Cal to task over his coaching, I don’t think most of the Big Blue Nation has, or should have, a problem with that. I agree with Derek’s characterization of his comments as "harsh," and I find his apology for that intemperate tone sufficient, if technically unnecessary. I am confident Coach Cal would also if he even bothered to take note of them to begin with, which I doubt. Calipari’s criticism callouses are surely as thick as a rhino’s hide after the merciless vilification he has received from far and wide since he’s been here.

Derek gets a touch defensive in the end, but I can’t really blame him much. A small number of Kentucky fans are well known to react abusively to even a hint of criticism when it comes to UK or Calipari, particularly on social media. That’s frustrating for the adults among us who believe we should be able to disagree without being disagreeable or toxic in our reaction to something as bland as wanting players to stay in college longer. That ship has long since sailed, and we can’t wish it back, but a little nostalgia even to the point of criticism can surely be understood.

So if you were harboring any ill will toward Derek Anderson over this affair, please take my advice and let it go. He certainly did nothing deserving invective or an assault on his character, although he apparently got plenty of that. That’s a shame, and we should reject it and those who participated. To re-purpose a construction of the late Barry Goldwater, extremism in defense of the Calipari or Kentucky basketball is always a vice, especially when it is against one of our own.

Hat tip: CBS Sports