The last two weeks for ball coaches has been Halloween Technicolor with with hallucinogens thrown it. v In Tuscaloosa, Alabama football coach Nick Saban suspended the seating privileges of 20 student organizations before the Tennessee game.
“All you have to do is come to the game, drink beer, do whatever you want, party in the parking lot,” Saban said. “All I’m asking is that you just come and have fun and stay for the whole game.”
Try and imagine how this would play at Commonwealth Stadium. v In Louisville a fortnight ago, Cardinals basketball coach Rick Pitino was so exercised about team rules and high principles he put Chane Behanan off the team. By last week Pitino announced Behanan would be reinstated because (wait for it), “he told the truth.”
To tell the truth is reason for reward?
Pitino’s wish-wash is a new spin that brings to mind then-senator John Kerry’s famous line, “I was for that before I was against it.”
Further afield, it gets better. v At North Carolina State, basketball coach Mark Gottfried dressed out in military fatigues for Madness (he never served), sky-dived into a Raleigh parking lot, flew by helicopter across town, and rode a Humvee into a partially filled PNC Arena. v Tom Izzo at Michigan State had fun with Spartans fans. He rode into the arena on a cannon and let fans believe he was about to be shot into a net above the playing floor. Flashing lights and cheerleaders covered the stunt. Fired out of the cannon was a buxom blond who came out of the net to be introduced by the coach. v In Lexington, the first night of basketball practice had its own brand of zany. Pomp and fireworks and cool player introductions all devoted to recruit prospects and wow students. Then came the Wildcats’ “Elmer Gantry” coach who took braggadocio to Natural Bridge and threw it over the edge.
“We’re borderless,” John Calipari crowed to the choir. “We’re everywhere. No corner is left untouched by the blue mist. UK (is) the gold standard of college athletics. We don’t just play college basketball. We are college basketball.”
Calipari postscript? “Last year we learned some very important lessons. We were humbled. I was humbled.”
No matter, the 40-0 Cal dream … the gold standard … blue mist and “we are college basketball” plays well in Fayette County, but will be more interesting posted on locker room bulletin boards across America. v And, in Owensboro, Kentucky Wesleyan coach Happy Osborne was so happy to have Rick Pitino at a press conference, he driveled that if his Panthers managed to beat Louisville, he would have a tattoo planted on his face.
A remark that begged the question: Have ya seen Mike Tyson?
Ball coaches as entertainers, huh?
Kentucky’s football faithful know about Groundhog Day in the Bluegrass. So, a look at Mark Stoops and how the coach is handling the bumble, bungle and can’t-make-a-third-and-short that’s defined UK football.
At Starkville, Mississippi last week, the Wildcats bungled their way to a 21-10 deficit as Stoops grimaced, then bumbled their way back to 21-19. UK coaches managed a nervous grin and flicker of hope.
Then, with momentum gripped by its throat, Kentucky executed a marvelous on-side kick and had the ball with a half-field possession. Oops. A flag. Offside. An SEC hobgoblin had played another trick on Kentucky football.
How did the coach handle it? Stoops was livid and allowed himself a mini-tantrum. Then, back to the barricades boys. This IS a process.
If recruiting holds, then Stoops and staff are the “right stuff ” to march UK football out of the football wilderness. Crucial: February’s signees and 2014 schedule possibilities.
And so it goes.