Kentucky Wildcats broadcasting legend Ralph Hacker was inducted into the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame on Monday night.
However, before his induction, Hacker made some snarky comments towards the current state of the men’s basketball program and John Calipari in particular on the Terry Meiners Show.
For some context, a few weeks ago, former Cat Kyle Macy took a shot at Calipari, specifically saying that colleges shouldn’t be used as a “training grounds” for future professional athletes. He also mentioned the weak home schedule, among other things, but his comments came off in a cynical way.
Back to Hacker, he started by complimenting Coach Cal on developing a system that brings elite talent to Lexington and gives Kentucky a competitive advantage and a shot at multiple titles.
But he went on to say the system isn’t working because players are leaving after a single season, which is why he hasn’t won multiple championships. And that’s when Hacker came to Macy’s defense.
“I know Kyle Macy took a lot of heat for what he said. But I [told him] ‘I think you’re right.’ I said they’re shortchanging the fans by doing what we’re doing now,” he said. “Even though we’re proud of the University of Kentucky basketball team, we cheer for them, pay for the tickets, all that stuff, but in the end, you’re not doing right by the fans.”
When first hearing or reading these comments, this seems to look like a criticism of Calipari’s one-and-done system. He continued by providing an analogy for Meiners.
“It’d be like if you decided you were going to come in here and not do your work to get your show done every day and you were going to do just enough to get by,” he said. “Like, ‘I’m going to have a good show today because it’s ratings week. But after ratings week, I’m not going to do anything.’ And maybe that’s a bad analogy, but they’re working their butts off, they’re winning ball games, doing all this stuff, but I still think the people in Kentucky – the further you get from Lexington, the more rabid the fans are – I think they’d like to see championships.”
This looks to me like he’s saying Calipari isn’t working hard enough, or simply taking the easy approach by getting elite kids, instead of going after three or four year players.
He says that the people of Lexington might defend Cal, but that isn’t the case around the rest of the state.
“People in [Lexington], maybe they can say, ‘Coach, you’re doing a really good job and maybe it’s okay if you don’t win them.’ Maybe it’s okay? Maybe that’s the way the people of Lexington feel, but I think Macy was right.”
Hacker seemed pretty discontent with the way things are going, and clearly wants to see a change. However, he did make an appearance on Kentucky Sports Radio on Tuesday morning to clarify his comments.
He told Matt Jones that his “shortchanging” comments were in regards to the home schedule. He said he’s a season ticket holder and doesn’t feel that there are enough quality home games. He said everyone wants to play neutral site games, but he’d love to see more big names come back to Rupp Arena.
While I do mostly agree with this sentiment, I’m not entirely convinced that’s what Hacker was saying on Monday.
I would like to see the Cats get some more big time games in Rupp Arena, but I will say that myself — and a lot of other fans — are happy with the state of the basketball program and with the job Calipari has done, despite the weak home schedule.