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Calipari, UK Throw Hat In The Ring For Chicken Of The Week

For a league that talks a tough game — and has the hardware to back up its bravado — it sure seems that the Southeastern Conference is being run by sissies and scaredy-cats this week.

 

* LSU’s Les Miles and Joe Alleva have said they have no problem with playing Florida in football every year… they just don’t think it’s fair that they have to play Florida in football every year.  Nevermind that Florida and LSU have won a combined four BCS titles since 2003 while playing each other.

* Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork — like Mississippi State AD Scott Stricklin a couple of months ago — has admitted that he doesn’t want the league to go to nine conference games because his school would have a tougher path toward bowl eligibility.  Better to go 2-6 in the SEC and eek out four wins over non-conference flops than try to actually improve to the point that 6-6 isn’t the darned goal.

* Steve Spurrier proposed that non-division games not even count in the SEC standings, despite the fact that any win over a division foe already gives the winner of that game what amounts to a two-game lead in the standings.  Rather than worrying about beating a so-so Auburn at home — which the Gamecocks couldn’t do last year — Spurrier favored changing the rules so that game against Auburn wouldn’t even count.

* And now Kentucky has been thrown under the bus by folks at the Indiana University for not even meeting the Hoosiers half way when it came to keeping their decades-old hoops rivalry alive.

 

Over the past month, Indiana and Kentucky have gone back and forth over their basketball series.  Indiana and coach Tom Crean wanted the yearly games to be played in Lexington and Bloomington.  John Calipari wanted the games to be played at neutral sites like Louisville and Indianapolis.

Both parties failed to compromise earlier this month and both got a little egg on their faces for calling a halt to their classic rivalry.  As it turns out, UK deserved the egg to the face, not IU.

The Bloomington Herald Times released yesterday a letter sent from IU athletic director Fred Glass to Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart on May 10th.  In it, Glass proposed what we at MrSEC.com proposed at the time — a compromise that would move the game through Lexington, Indianapolis (for two years), and Bloomington over a four-year period.  Win-win.

Only Barnhart responded in the negative to the compromise.

According to Glass, “we were back to Kentucky’s take it or leave it demand that we play on a neutral court with no opportunities to play on our campuses in front of our students and other season ticket-holders.”

IU has the letter showing that the Hoosiers offered a compromise.  No compromise was struck.  Therefore it seems pretty obvious that Calipari, Barnhart and UK did indeed stick to their take it or leave it demand, just as Glass suggested.  (Though Barnhart claims there were other factors at play.)

Why?  Because Calipari’s next stated goal is to put together an undefeated season.  For all the bluster about UK being a new kind of “non-traditional” program that’s built for big neutral site games, the Cats’ coach has been around long enough to know that it’s a helluva lot easier to win at home or on a neutral court than it is to win on someone else’s home floor.  You might recall that one of Kentucky’s two losses this past season came… where?  Ah, yes, at Indiana.  In Bloomington.

Calipari wants an undefeated season.  The clearest path to an unbeaten season will feature as few tough, true road games as possible.  So even though Indiana was willing to give a little to get a little, UK’s coach and athletic director refused to give an inch.

Some Cat fans will call that bold leadership.

We call it chicken.  Which is something Calipari and Kentucky have proven over the past three years that they have no reason to be.  Calipari has restored Kentucky basketball to its rightful throne.  Too bad he is no longer willing to play “anyone, anywhere” as he’s so often claimed.

 

(UPDATE — Let’s make something very clear here as people are already taking what we’ve written and twisting it.  This site has repeatedly praised Calipari for being willing to schedule name teams.  He still is.  But he’s trying to schedule the vast majority of them away from home courts.  That is the issue.  The “anyone” part of Calipari’s mantra is still intact.  The “anywhere” part?  Not so much.)

 


22 comments
BobbySlaughter
BobbySlaughter

Does anyone know  this nobody "John Pennington"  who wrote this one sided  article about  KY's  Coach and  AD.  This comes from a site that calls it's self  "Mr. SEC".  They should rename to " Mr. Indiana U.".  Or are these people just like so many, Jealous of Kentucky  basketball ??  To that I say, YES.  IU got lucky and beat KY on a last second shot on their home floor this past year but KY return the favor when KY beat IU in the NCAA tour.  NO one but KY fans will talk about what happened at Bloomington this year when KY went there to play.  KY fans were insulted, cursed  just to name a few things in town by  drunk IU people and this went on at the game also.   When the game ended the KY players feared for their safety when trying to leave the court.  UK has been quiet as to the real reason why it doesn't want to go back to Bloomington.  I know why because I  "had" in-laws that lived in that area and every time I went there wearing my KY gear I caught  H**l  from their drinking friends.   My opinion of Bloomington on game day is break out the liquor and let's get rowdy & rough.  Indiana still has a lot to prove before they can say they are a top rated team again.  Win on the ROAD

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @BobbySlaughter 

 

Just ignore all the parts about Calipari scheduling tough teams, about UK being so good they  need not worry to play true road games, and about them being back on their "rightful throne."  Yep, MrIndiana.com.  That's the site.

 

As for who I am --

 

7 Emmy Awards

20+ years media experience

Kentucky native

Tennessee resident

Have lived in Ohio and North Carolina as well

Work as SEC analyst for CSS Network which gets into X million homes

Do 15-20 radio shows across the South per week in the fall

And just finished -- as of 9:50am this morning -- doing a spirited radio hit on the show of UK play-by-play man Tom Leach, whom I consider to be a friend.

 

But you just keep picking and choosing what you want to read... and discrediting anyone who writes anything that you might disagree with.

 

John

BobbySlaughter
BobbySlaughter

These  stories about the KY-IU series and who   "chicken out on where it is played"  should be told  in TRUTH.   KY and it's fans do not want to go back to Bloomington and  have to "fear for their lives"  like they did this past year.  What no one including the KY basketball coaches and team have spoken out about how they fear for their safety after the game.  A lot of KY fans have spoken out about they were treated in town and at the arena by the IU fans.   I can speak about how the IU fans are because I used to have in-laws who resided near Bloomington and they had friends who were IU fans and every time I wore my KY gear to their home I caught "H**L..  Plus they were what I call heavy drinkers. I no longer have to put up with those type of people but experience I do have in dealing with IU fans.  So I do not doubt what I have heard about the treatment our KY fans received.  As a fan I would never go back to Bloomington plus we don't need IU.

FourThinInches
FourThinInches

John, what SEC school did you graduate from?    Let the record show that Ohio State just cancelled their series with UGA and you didn't call that school or Urban Meyers chickens.  You defended that joke of a program by mentioning their contract with the PAC 12 and how their conference is moving to 9 games a season.  The same thing is happening in the SEC this year with basketball(2 more games in conference) and you write a huge article about us being chickens?  Are you an Ohio State fan?

 

Apparently the media, bloggers and the UK haters all think UK is Robin Hood.  All of other programs are poor peasants that UK has to feed and give money to.  UK doesn't owe the "media" or the haters anything.  UK would have to schedule every team in the top 25 preseason OOC to appease the universal hatred of the UK Basketball program.

 

Playing Duke, Louisville, Maryland, Baylor, and a Big East Team(TBD) in 2012-2013 isn't enough.  Playing Michigan State, UNC, Louisville, Baylor, Holiday Tournament, and a Big East team (TBD) in 2013-2014 isn't enough.  The haters scoff at the "Chickens" for being in talks with Duke for a Neutral contract series; which is something that UK fans actually want(but what UK fans want doesn't matter to the media).  I challenge you to give me another school(maybe yours in football or basketball) that has a OOC schedule that even comes remotely close to UK's.  UK is still adding teams to their schedule and media/haters whining won't get their teams on it.

 

UK is going to do what is best for itself.  #1 program of all Time, UK can do whatever UK wants to do.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @FourThinInches 

 

More like four thin brain cells.

 

No one "defended" Ohio State.  We explained why they dumped the game and we even took a shot at them for not being as bold as their Pac-12 counterparts.  But you didn't read that.

 

And you also ignore the fact completely -- probably because you didn't read this story, either, you just wet your pants and started typing when you saw the headline -- that I said Calipari schedules name teams all the time.  I've praised him for that.  I said UK has no reason to be chicken of anyone or any gym.  Even said they're back on their "rightful throne," (which surprisingly didn't bring out other fans to claim I loooooove Kentucky).  Nope, you ignored all of that.

 

But despite the fact that Calipari plays a great non-conference schedules, his current decision to duck other teams' home arenas is clearly an attempt to find an easier path to an undefeated season in... my... view.

 

Finally, I'm so anti-Kentucky that I'll be on the radio with UK play-by-play man Tom Leach tomorrow morning.  Maybe he and I can discuss how anti-Wildcat I am.

 

John

FourThinInches
FourThinInches

@John at MrSEC

Oh...  My bad... I misconstrued your clever article headlined, "Calipari, UK Throw Hat In The Ring For Chicken Of The Week" with a picture of a chicken on it?  For every compliment there are 3-4 "We call it Chicken",  "too bad he no is longer willing to play .....".   Pass on the Leach thing, UK has moved on from Indiana.   As an engineer in Texas I am overjoyed with them being replaced with Baylor(because now I can see my cats in a Non-Tourney game).

 

Perhaps "Defended" was too strong a word, but you definitely let them skate out of town without a bruise.  But if you stir the pot so much with UK and the IU thing, why not do the same with Ohio State and them dropping 2 SEC teams recently(UT and UGA)?  Call them cowards and chickens, and then go on a rant about how they lose so much to the SEC.  That would be hilarious, if there is anything the SEC can all band together about it  is hating on the Big Ten and Ohio State.

 

I would still like to know what schedule your school has.  If it's Tennessee I may cry from laughing so hard.

aschick11
aschick11

John, first time visitor but I like what I see. FYI, however, it's Indiana University, not University of Indiana.

Breathofdeath
Breathofdeath

I found Joe Alleva's comments about a disparity in the permanent opponents amusing.  He complains that LSU has to play Florida every year but Ole MIss has Vanderbilt as a permanent opponent and Mississippi State has Kentucky, two traditional SEC bottom-feeders.  For one, it's not like Ole Miss and Mississippi State are football juggernauts (7 SEC football championships between them, the most recent in 1963).  For another, I don't think Alleva would even be bringing up the disparity issue if LSU had Vanderbilt or Kentucky as a permanent opponent.

jackson
jackson

Seems to me that IU offered the 4-year compromise plan AFTER UK had already replaced them with Baylor and an upcoming series with Duke (which they arranged after IU publicly announced that the series was ending without informing UK). UK moved on quickly and replaced them with very good opponents, and will head into the next two years with a tough OOC slate. Hardly "chicken". 

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

jackson...

 

I've written many times that John Calipari schedules tough teams.  He just won't play them on the road anymore and, yes, I think that's a) chicken and b) tied to wanting an undefeated season.

 

Why is that IU wants the game at home every other year?  Ticket sales, of course, but also Tom Crean knows a homecourt advantage means a heckuva lot.  So does Calipari.

 

Thanks for reading,

John

DrSayre
DrSayre

I dont know John...UK was willing to play every game in the state of Indiana.  Also Indiana didnt make that compromise until a week after they announced the series was over 

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @DrSayre 

 

I don't believe they were truly willing to play every game in the state of Indiana.  

 

But the point is not who John Calipari schedules, it's where he's scheduling them.  No sport is as impacted by home court advantage -- on teams, on refs -- as basketball.  Calipari will surely play anyone... it's the anywhere part of the equation that's gone missing.

 

Just my take.

 

Thanks for reading,

John

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

I do find it odd that Calipari said the other day that he wanted the SEC to set their schedule as to maximize RPI, but doesn't seem as willing play tough non-conference games.  I'm sure there are several directional schools on UK's schedule like there are on many teams' schedules.  Why not sacrifice games like that for Indiana?  IU may be down right now, but they'll be back sooner or later so there's no need to tick them off.  Indiana/Kentucky is a great rivalry.

BD
BD

So replacing IU with Duke is playing chicken?  What about a trip to Texas to play Baylor?  Not to mention the home and home with North Carolina and Louisville.  I have to believe this story was posted to draw site clicks from UK fans and not to educate readers of the facts dealing with bottom line business decisions.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

BD...

 

Is Kentucky playing at Duke or at a neutral site?  Is Kentucky playing at Baylor or at a neutral site?

 

Louisville is a gimme and North Carolina won't be on UK's schedule next year.

 

We don't troll for clicks around here.  

 

John

db20207
db20207

@John at MrSEC Louisville is a

db20207
db20207

@John at MrSEC John, appreciate the reply. I think Cal wanted to do this from the moment he got to UK. Now he finally has the collateral to do so with #8. I can't read his mind, but I would say that being scared to play on the road so he can go undefeated is WAY down the list of reasons for him to do this. So I think to simplify the argument by saying he is chicken and wants to go undefeated is a little bit sensationalistic. By not locking UK into another home and home, he can expose the "brand" (yes I cringe when I hear that word associated with college athletics) more across the country. Simply stated, Recruits care more about UK playing Duke and Baylor on neutral courts than they do playing at historic Assembly Hall. I also think UK is a little butthurt about the way the administration allowed (some say encouraged) the crowd to act and put Darius Miller in serious jeopardy of being injured at the end of the game. I don't agree with the second point, but if you pile that onto the fact that IU took things public on multiple occasions in an attempt to swing public opinion the UK admin is almost done dealing with the Hoosiers. Unless Cal and Crean get together I think UK and IU will unfortunately miss playing each other for at least a few years

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @db20207 

 

My bad... meant that as "gimme" in the fact that there's no way that game comes off the schedule.  Calipari inherited that and even he would catch heck for trying to cancel it.

 

It's certainly not a "gimme" in terms of a big-time matchup.  Same with North Carolina when that series starts up again.

 

UK plays a tough non-conference schedule.  We've written than many times on this site.  It's as tough as anyones.  But we still find it interesting that just as Calipari says he wants an undefeated season, he begins to shy away from playing true road games.

 

Call that scared, chicken or good business... the timing is interesting.  Especially considering he's never talked about being a "non-traditional program" until the past month or two.

 

Thanks for reading the site,

John

db20207
db20207

Sorry for the double post. Louisville is a gimmie? I hope you mean that in the sense that it's a gimmie that they are on the schedule last year and not in the sense that they won't be good next year. You realize they return their most important pieces from a final four team last year right? Honestly I really think that UK should go to Bloomington, but UK already have 2 permanent non-conference home and homes (UNC, UL), and if Mitch and Cal say it doesn't make sense to add another one, I guess I will just take them at their word. Speaking of which, what other college basketball teams have 2 permanent non-conference home and homes? I think this whole negotiation comes down to the egos of UK/IU administration. UK has drawn their line in the sand about not going to Bloomington, so IU has run to the media on 2 seperate occasions to negotiate in public (announcing the cancelation which caught UK by surprise and leaking the letter to UK). I don't think the UK administration appreciates that tactic very much and egos may end up canceling the series. Which is a shame because one of my favorite memories is going to a 50/50 Freedom Hall and watching the Cats stomp Neil Reid. That being said, love your site and keep up the good work John.

scottlester
scottlester

I am sick of the whimpy coaches we have in the SEC.  The basketball and football schedules are being designed in order to make it easier for coaches to make bowl games and gain tournament invitations than honor traditions and give fans the best product.  I would rather see an SEC team play another SEC team than most any other team in the country.  These coaches signed up to coach in the SEC so they need to play SEC teams.  If they want a lighter schedule than get out of SEC, go to a lesser conference and make room for someone not afraid of a challenge.  We should be playing a 9 game SEC schedule and a 19 game division-less basketball schedule.

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