One of disappointing by-products of super-fandom is the wont to believe in conspiracy theories. Running a website that covers all 14 SEC schools in football and men’s basketball, we’ve seen the following plots and schemes pointed to many times over the past few years:
* Many non-Kentucky fans believe the SEC provides UK with a favorable basketball schedule in order to help UK win championships.
* Many non-Alabama fans believe the SEC provides UA with a favorable football schedule in order to help UA win championships.
* Many believe the SEC instructs the league’s officials to make calls favoring Kentucky (in basketball) and Alabama (in football).
* The same holds true for any other team leading the SEC in basketball or football in a given year. If Team X is winning, it has to be the result of a favorable schedule or friendly officials.
Having heard these same theories time and again about multiple teams, it all seems pretty silly from where we sit. Mainly because the folks making such claims pick and choose their “evidence.” Alabama, for example, is believed by many to get break after break after break from SEC officials and the SEC office — that Pac-12 crew really took care of them in the BCS title game, too! — but you never hear the conspiracy theorists mention the fact that Auburn’s Cam Newton was cleared to play in the Iron Bowl in 2010, even though the league had to redefine its own by-laws to clear him. You never heard one of the conspiracy theorists mention that the league office handed Bama a 2010 schedule that included a whopping six games against foes coming off bye weeks. That’s because those facts don’t fit the “everything’s handed to the Tide” narrative. (On the flipside, many Alabama fans looked at those issues as proof that the SEC is always out to get them.)
Why bring this up now? Because for the last two years the top conspiracy theory during hoops season has been that Kentucky never has to play a Thursday-Saturday turnaround. Even Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings fueled that fire last year with his complaints. Yet none of the people who’ve complained about UK’s lack of turnaround games is coming forth to admit that the Wildcats just suffered through one.
Kentucky won at Vanderbilt on Thursday. Lost at home to Texas A&M on Saturday. And they next face Tennessee tomorrow at home. That’s three games in six days with two of the three set-up to get the Cats on ESPN.
At MrSEC.com, we’ve noted every time this comes up that it’s a television issue. ESPN wants Kentucky more than any other team in the league because they’re a national brand. In the past, that’s meant more Tuesday games. This year, the SEC and ESPN will be playing more Thursday contests. And Kentucky became the first league team to face the Thursday/Saturday/Tuesday challenge in 2013.
We know, we know. The league got Kentucky’s out of the way just to cover up all the aid they’re going to be giving the Wildcats the rest of the way.
Sorry, but we’re not into conspiracies around here. If you believe that the Southern Conference commissioner — a man employed by all 14 member institutions — has been given the green light by 13 schools to help a single rival school then you need a tinfoil hat to help keep those loose screws from falling out yer head.
Now we didn’t expect anyone who’s cried foul about UK’s hoops schedule in the past to suddenly admit, “Oh, they’ve not only got a Thursday/Saturday turn-around, but theirs is a Thursday/Saturday/Tuesday gauntlet.” But someone needed to say it.