The University of Kentucky has always been a wonderful college basketball villain. As a fellow blueblood, they were already natural rivals for Kansas. As far as actual hatred of bluebloods is concerned, they probably weren't quite on the level of Duke, but then again, during the 80's and 90's, who was? Then John Calipari took over in 2009, and it's been as bad as I feared it would be. It was one thing when Calipari was at UMASS or Memphis; it was easier to dismiss his shenanigans and tsk-tsk his vacated Final Fours. Now that he is in charge of a basketball powerhouse, it's been a nightmare. A man of his character shouldn't have that much power; it's like if Bane took over for Jim Gordon as Gotham's Police Commissioner.
Between the recruiting, marketing, and overall Coach Caliparification of the program, Kentucky has become a hated juggernaut, looming over the entire college basketball landscape. As Waylon Smithers would put it, they've "crossed that line from everyday villainy into cartoonish super-villainy."
But maybe you're not buying any of the aforementioned reasons to dislike Kentucky. You might be a Jayhawk fan, but right now you might be saying, "You know what? I don't mind the one-and-done attitude that has gripped college basketball. I think it's great for the competitive balance that Kentucky has nine McDonald's All-Americans on their roster. The 2012 title game wasn't so bad, Kentucky deserved to win that year. And what's so bad about Drake participating in their layup lines, anyway? Clearly, he's been a diehard fan for years."
If that's the case, then let me try to persuade you further. Chew on some of these thoughts, let me know how they taste, and hopefully, by the end of the meal, you'll hate Kentucky just as much as the rest of us.
- Kentucky ran Billy Gillispie out of town after only two years, and tried to avoid paying him the remainder of his contract. Gillispie is (or at least was) one of Coach Self's best buds. Ipso facto, Kentucky disrespected Bill Self. To use a Godfather analogy, if I may: Fredo Corleone was a screwup, but Michael Corleone still had Moe Greene killed just for slapping Fredo around in public. Yeah, Michael ends up having Fredo whacked a few years later-- but the point is, someone outside the Family doesn't get to show disrespect, deserved or not.
Side note: A few years ago, we saw Self and Gillespie at the Kentucky Derby, and a contingent of Louisville fans were giving Billy Clyde all kinds of crap about his drinking and driving. I was going to chime in and defend him...but considering I was on my 4th mint julep and it wasn't even 10:30am yet, I figured it may not be well-received.
- If Kentucky properly defended Christian Laettner's shot in the 1992 Elite 8, they could have saved all of us non-Duke fans a lot of headaches. I know Kentucky took a lot of crap after the fact for not guarding the inbounder, and hundreds of basketball coaches were thrilled that they now had a new drill to kill another 20 minutes during basketball camps that summer, but I don't necessarily subscribe to that line of thinking. For what it's worth, Bucknell guarded KU's inbounder in that fateful 2005 tournament game, and Michael Lee was still able to complete that pass to Simien-- a play that was almost an exact recreation of the original Laettner shot.
No, the real culprit of the Duke/Kentucky play is John Pelphrey and his attempt at playing defense. As soon as Laettner catches the ball, Pelphrey backs off like Laettner has the plague, and officially becomes a spectator. Forget putting Pelphrey on the inbounder; they could've sent Pelphrey into the stands to guard Coach K's wife, and he would've had the same amount of influence on that play. It's literally the worst defense I've ever seen in my entire life of watching basketball. If anyone has a worse example, please share it with me, because I am very interested in seeing it.
The end result: Because of that highlight, we all have to watch Christian Laettner run towards our living rooms, arms raised and mouth open in a primal scream of jubilation, roughly 40-50 times a year, depending on how much you watch CBS. Ugh.
- These jerseys. Tony Delk, I really hope they catch the guy who spilled 90's all over you.
- In 2004, Kentucky was the #1 overall seed, and they lost in the 2nd round to UAB, coached by Mike Anderson. KU subsequently destroyed UAB in the Sweet 16, but by then, the gears had already started turning, and Anderson was officially on the radar for head coaching jobs. He ended up at Missouri, where he inherited the glorious disaster that Quin Snyder had left behind. Unfortunately, Anderson returned the program to respectability, just in time for Mizzou to bolt the Big 12 for the SEC. The mid-2000s, when Snyder was running Mizzou into the ground, was absolutely delightful. Maybe if Kentucky takes care of business against UAB in the tournament, that situation turns out differently, and maybe Missouri is still a laughingstock. Oh well. Thanks for the free pass into the 2004 Elite 8, I guess.
- Ashley Judd is astoundingly overrated. Double Jeopardy is garbage. A Time to Kill isn't terrible, if you're willing to buy McConaughey as a capable attorney, and if you've heard "Yes they deserve to die, and I hope they burn in hell!" then you've pretty much seen the movie. Kiss the Girls? I liked it better the first time I saw it, when it was called Silence of the Lambs. I'll give her Heat, that movie is awesome-- although really, all she does in that movie is cheat on Val Kilmer with friggin' Hank Azaria, then have a change of heart and help Kilmer slip past the cops after the bank heist goes bad-- not exactly a highlight reel worth mailing in to the Academy. If I ever end up watching The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, then something has gone horribly wrong.
Add to that sterling resume' the fact that she isn't all that attractive, and I'm not sure how Judd is known as the superhot, superfamous actress that became the shining beacon of the Kentucky basketball fanbase.
And if you still don't hate Kentucky, I don't know what else to tell you. It might be time to take a look in the mirror.