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Wade Payne – AP
Derrick Locke will be gone after this year. Let’s enjoy his last bowl game and knock off the silly calls to decline a bowl.
Checking around the Internet today, I am struck by the almost laughable negativity and vitriol I see oozing out of the nether-regions of the Big Blue Nation. I suppose it’s always this way when we have a couple of disappointments during the season, and make no mistake, the losses in Lahaina and Knoxville were disappointing to us all.
But calls for the dismissal of Joker Phillips after one whole season (and a season not appreciably different from the last five) and assurances that Kentucky will lose double-digit games in basketball due to a weakness in the middle border on the delusional.
Also ill-conceived are calls to reject the bowl games, and even though those games may not mean a great deal to anyone, they do allow for significant additional practice that can only improve a team. It never ceases to amaze me how some fans, and this is not just UK but almost all fans of any sport, would rather cut their rhetorical nose off just to show all and sundry how great their fanhood is. I do understand that venting is occasionally necessary, but it amazes me how many people would rather indelibly imprint their inane rants on the Internet as though they will disappear when they feel better. If only.
You notice I am not linking any of these things, and there is a reason for that. I am not trying to embarrass or call out anyone here. The intent of this commentary is a humble plea for rationality rather than absurd silliness, and yes, if you think Joker Phillips should be fired or Kentucky is going to lose 10+ games this year, I am referring to you, dear temporarily addled reader. Yes, we had some setbacks. Yes, they sting. But let’s try to pretend, just for the moment, that we have not lost our collective minds and morphed into Louisville fans (sorry, Card fans, but you are the enemy and you get to be the metaphor).
Let’s talk about some of the things bugging the BBN to the point of crazy right now:
- Randall Cobb may be leaving. Let’s look at this rationally, shall we? Is Cobb going to get faster? Not likely. Bigger? Not appreciably. More elusive? Unlikely. Will his draft stock, such as it is, get better? Maybe, but only if he has an even more monstrous year than he had this year. In sum, I think we need to get used to the idea that he will be playing on Sunday next year. I know it’s scary, but it is going to happen sometime. If he stays, bonus, but get used to the idea of UK without him.
- Enes Kanter will likely not be restored to eligibility, and even if he does, the game penalty may be unprecedented. We are in precedent-setting territory here, and the NCAA’s default position has already been expressed. Don’t count on that to change, and if it does, it may be that we don’t see Kanter this year. If that happens, do you really think he will hang out until next year?
I do think there is a chance Kanter will be restored and suffer a reasonably penalty that gets him eligible with at least half the season left. But I consider this possibility to be 30% or less. Your mileage may vary on that prognostication, but if I were you, I would prepare to be disappointed.
- The young Wildcat basketball team being exposed in Maui. This is, at best, a temporary setback. No, it won’t be the only one, but we have seen this team’s talent, and it is prodigious. No coach in college basketball is better at getting young guys to play to their maximum ability than John Calipari. Have a little faith, will ya?
- The disappointing football season. I have been over this and over this. UK is not going to make the commitment to football that some of you want. If they are not willing to do that with Mitch Barnhart, a football guy, driving the bus, you can imagine what would happen if he were replaced by a basketball guy. So those of you wishing for Barnhart’s exit, be careful what you wish for, and remember that Kentucky is not going to forget how their bread gets buttered no matter how much you wish the would, and here’s a hint — football doesn’t even qualify as margarine.
In sum, we are all disappointed, including me, but there is no reason to commit sports seppuku over it.