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Wildcats Basketball: Rhoden's New York Times Article Falls Flat... Way Flat

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What happens when you allow your agenda to control the keyboard, in the face of rationale... well, you look foolish. William Rhoden is the latest casualty.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

William Rhoden of the New York Times has been writing about sports since 1983, according to his bio.  I would imagine in those 33 years he has likely not written something so misinformed and perplexing as his most recent piece titled ‘Big Boy League: ACC Rules the Final Four.'

I will give him credit on two things, the ACC is a big boy league and with 2 out of 4 participants they are ruling the final four this season.  That, however, is where the truth ends and fiction begins.

The first 60-70% of the article is Rhoden's assertion that the ACC is primed for a run of dominance not seen since the 80's Big East days.  He even pontificates that the ACC could one day be the first conference to put together an all-conference Final Four.

"At this rate, would anyone really be surprised if one year soon the A.C.C. put together the first single-conference Final Four?"

Rhoden would continue his one man ACC apologist fest by mentioning how the new ACC and the old Big East are essentially one in the same, even trying to throw in Villanova as a final four contender to boost his point.

"the old Big East nearly accomplished that feat (discussing an all-conference final four) by sending three teams (St. John's, Georgetown and Villanova) to the Final Four. The final was a classic, with Villanova improbably edging Georgetown.

Villanova is back in the Final Four this year, but the Big East is in rebuilding mode after being decimated by the defections of several members during the recent wave of football-driven realignment. Two former Big East members Syracuse and Notre Dame€” played under the A.C.C. flag Sunday.

That was more than symbolic. A large part of the A.C.C.'s success has been the result of an infusion of new blood from the old Big East."

If this were where the article ended, it would be fine; you could even argue that he makes a lot of valid points.  The former Big East is now a big part of the ACC, and who knows, maybe one day there will be an all-ACC Final Four, it could happen.

The problem that I, and anyone who follows college basketball with ANY rationality about them, have with Rhoden's piece is what followed.  Rhoden decided to anoint the entire ACC as a conference that is doing it the right way, according to him.

"What's encouraging about the approach to building programs at several A.C.C. universities (especially Virginia) is an emphasis on recruiting players who will remain in the program for three to four seasons. I care less about the basketball than I do about ending the obscene practice of having players on campus for a total of five months."

I will show later, just how misinformed that statement is, but for now I want to go directly to the next sentence in the article.

"Over the last seven years, Bennett has become a much-needed antidote to the one-and-done model espoused by John Calipari and Kentucky."

The most amazing lack of self-awareness I have seen in years lies in that one statement.  Rhodes spends the first part of his piece falling all over the ACC; yet fails to recognize that a team in that very same conference has taken to the one-and-done ‘model' in Duke.

However, Rhodes has been in this game a while, so he knows that by throwing Calipari and Kentucky under the bus, it will get attention.  Some will say that me writing this article is playing right into that.

My response is that ridiculousness on this level, by someone in this position, needs to be called out. Simply saying 'ignore it, its click bait!' is just not enough.  Ignorance and agenda driven pieces like this have to be called to the rug and exposed for the terrible journalism it is.

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Before I get into showing that the ACC would LOVE to have John Calipari's players over the years, let's start with the Bennett as an antidote to Calipari.

There is really no need to dissect this any further.  No matter what you want to proclaim about Calipari's ‘system' (the one the NCAA has instituted, not him)... well, it works and works pretty darn well.

I know if this were a job outside of sports and I was Tony Bennett and I tried to claim that Ole Calipari down the hall was not doing things the proper way (although perfectly within the assigned rules and laws) and that I am doing things the ‘right way', I would likely be given a performance improvement plan and told to learn from Calipari or brush up my resume.

I can also guarantee there would be nobody carrying my water the way that Rhoden is carrying Bennett's here.

Do not get me wrong here; I think Tony Bennett is a good coach and I am not coming at him.  He has created a very good base at UVA and took them to places they have not been in a LONG time.  However, to try and proclaim him as a ‘much-needed antidote' to Calipari is astoundingly obtuse.  Unfortunately for Bennett, Rhoden hitched his unwanted wagon to him in this instance.

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Now, on to another ludicrous assertion by Rhoden:

"After five years of major programs trying to match Calipari's one-and-done circus, it's reassuring to see a university, perhaps even a conference, adopt and dominate with another approach: Stay the course, enjoy slow and steady growth and, with luck, reap the rewards in March."

So, you have seen the results that Calipari's one-and-done *circus* has provided, would it be fair to say that if Calipari is a circus, pretty much everyone else (other than maybe Duke) is on the level of a local carnival?

And what about the ACC as a conference coming together to fight the evil Calipari empire.  In the below tweet releasing the article entitled ‘The ACC has become a much-needed antidote to Kentucky's one-and-done model', Rhoden proclaims the entire conference a venerable breath of fresh air.

The lack of self-awareness to try and hitch the ACC to this narrative is well, very laughable and where it truly jumps the shark.  Truth be told, had Rhoden categorized this as comedic satire rather than serious sports writing, he might have a Pulitzer Prize on his hands.

Beyond the FACT that Coach K and Duke have become 1a to Kentucky's 1 in the 'one-and-done method,' there are some downright sleazy schools in the conference that make Cal look like St. Calipari.

North Carolina

There really is no need to regurgitate the offenses here, other than to say it is an athletic program that reportedly knowingly and willfully perpetuated academic fraud over the course of nearly two decades.  Fraud at an INSTITUTIONAL LEVEL was committed... for 18 YEARS.

But hey, Calipari recruits the top players and changes their family tree for the better, what a bum.

One of the staples of trolls against UK is they LOVE screaming that Calipari left two programs on probation, which is false.  The funny thing is that Ole Roy ACTUALLY did leave Kansas on probation.

Syracuse

Jim Boeheim has been to 5 Final Fours in his 40 years coaching, Calipari has been to 5 Final Fours in the last 9 years.

There is also the fact that Syracuse was committing some (A LOT actually) institutional academic fraud, for which they had games vacated and Boeheim suspended.

Here is the high level Cliffs Notes version:

  • Boeheim, in 2005, hired a new director of basketball operations to ‘fix' their academic issues.  Of course, Fix meaning interact with professors via player's email as if they were the player and complete coursework on the player's behalf.
  • Boeheim ignored the schools own policy on drug abuse and testing.  Over a 10 year period he allowed failed drug tests to go unpunished (even though the NCAA requires programs to follow the school's drug policy).

But hey, Calipari recruits the top players and changes their family tree for the better, what a bum.

Louisville

Well, then there is the laughing stock of the Power 5 conferences, Louisville.  For the past 4-5 years a STAFF MEMBER on the basketball staff purportedly organized, and paid for strippers to come to Minardi Hall and dance for players and recruits.  He also purportedly paid for the girls to have sex with the players and recruits for UL.

Feel free to read the sleazy details at any various outlets, but while UK brings in kids and promises a degree or an NBA career as a result of coming to UK, UL has seemingly been promising kids sexual gratification and the hopes of a negative STD test.

But hey, Calipari recruits the top players and changes their family tree for the better, what a bum.

That, Mr. Rhoden is what you are defending and promoting when you say things like ‘The ACC has become a much-needed antidote to Kentucky's one-and-done model.'

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Finally, I wanted to drop a nuclear bomb on Rhoden's argument that the ACC does things differently than emulating Calipari and Kentucky's ‘one-and-done model.'

The obvious question, a rhetorical one, is does Rhoden really think that the teams of the ACC do not recruit the same players as Calipari?  Does he really think that UNC, Duke, UL, UVA, Syracuse, NC State, and Miami would say no to John Wall?

Would they have said no to Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jamal Murray, or Devin Booker?  It is rhetorical, but the answer is no... Hell NO.

To make this point, I decided to look at the one and done recruits that John Calipari has brought to UK and see just how many of those ACC ‘Antidotes' tried to land his one-and-done guys.

I took all of Cal's one and done guys at UK (prior to this coming draft obviously), along with the current players who are projected to be drafted if they enter.  Also, next year's 5-star rated players and came up with the below.  The chart represents if an ACC school offered them, and furthermore which schools did offer.

That graph tells a story, and a pretty damning one for Rhoden's assertions.  The fact of the numbers is that going back to when John Calipari came to UK, and looking at his one-and-done players; 21 of those 23 have been recruited by ACC schools as well.

Furthermore, 13 of the 23 players held/hold multiple offers from ACC schools.  Here is the damning part for Rhodes; ever since Calipari won a national title in 2012 with his ‘model', the ACC has come flocking to his recruits like parasites.

Starting with the Julius Randle class, 100% of the UK one-and-dones have been offered by ACC Schools, and 11 of the 13 have been/were offered by multiple ACC schools.

Hell, there isn't a player coming in next fall for UK that does not hold at least THREE offers from ACC Schools.

The truth of the matter is that not only does the ACC recruit the same players that Calipari recruits; they are now starting to recruit them even more than before.

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CONCLUSION

The problem is Rhoden decided on a personal narrative/agenda driven piece, without actually researching anything he was opining on.

After reading his article, I immediately thought of a scene from a juvenile movie (apropos for Rhoden's agenda), Billy Madison.  At one juncture of the movie, Sandler's character attempts to answer a straight forward question with a deflective series of emotionally charged anecdotes.

The crowd cheers but reality quickly sets in when the moderator responds.

"What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I've ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response was there anything that could even be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul"

Your piece made everyone who read it, dumber, Mr. Rhoden... do better.