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Sports in Kentucky

A week for crying


Randy Moss whined in Boston.

 

 

Pete Rose bawled in Cincinnati.

Bruce Pearl sniveling in Knoxville.

Indiana media somberly noted, 10th anniversary of Douglas Mac- Arthur’s firing by Harry Truman. Or was that Bob Knight by Myles Brand?

Big Blue Nation was bellyaching about Enes Kanter’s amateur status.

And, Lee Todd’s lips quivered in Lexington.

My observations:

Millionaire Moss’s whine isn’t worth elaboration.

PETE ROSE told reporters in Cincinnati he “didn’t get it” when Bart Giamatti told him to reconfigure his life. That was 1989. Confessing to being “a hard head,” 21years later, he gets it and could be a bit nearer induction at Cooperstown.

A Hall of Fame compromise for Rose? Stop the pretense and let Charlie Hustle in by making him charter member for a new wing at the Hall — the Scallywag Division — joined by Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Cap Anson, Shoeless Joe Jackson, the Chicago Black Sox, and soon to arrive, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds.

BRUCE PEARL. Another college ball coach moved his lips. Lied. Tennessee’s coach, who 15 years ago blew the whistle on Illinois U. basketball, sniffled at a Knoxville press conference and we wondered: Is Pearl teary-eyed out of remorse and shame or because he got caught and must forfeit $1.5 million?

BOB KNIGHT. The General is being romanced by Indiana University officials who want a reconciliation.

So ardent a student of American history and baseball as Knight is, it would be tragic if he failed to benefit from Ted Williams’ last farewell at Fenway Park. He doff ed his hat to adoring Red Sox fans from a wheelchair, summer 1999. Virtually blind, Teddy Ballgame missed seeing the love.

As with Williams in Boston, a Knight-IU reconciliation isn’t only about the General’s hurt, it’s about Hoosier fans having opportunity to revel in his return and pay tribute to their Hall of Fame coach.

Epilogue. Maybe college hoops officials could add a Scallawag Wing to the Naismith Hall of Fame in Springfield. Nah, length of the induction list would be an embarrassment.

ENES KANTER. If documents turned over to the NCAA by Turkish basketball officials are legitimate and confirm he was paid thousands to play in Turkey, it doesn’t matter if they are greedy club owners, Mafioso or the Seven Dwarfs, the kid is a professional.

That Kanter was rejected by three prep school coaches who did background checks to affirm their suspicious that he had been paid to play, Kentucky coach John Calipari should be held accountable for signing him and jeopardizing UK’s basketball program with the NCAA … again.

LEE TODD will step down as President at University of Kentucky next year.

The Hopkins County native graduated UK, went far (MIT), became a success in education and business, then came home to the high office at Flagship U. 2000- 10. Todd’s story is a flag-waving American success.

• His refusal to accept a pay bonus one year in at UK was praiseworthy.

• Goal to make UK top 20 at something beyond men’s basketball, was Reagan-esque.

• “The campus at University of Kentucky is the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” he said and the words were the sweetest chords heard round the Commonwealth since Happy Chandler crooned his last on Senior Night.

UK’s budget grew from $1.2 billion a year to more than $2.4 billion during Todd’s time, reflecting prosperity and momentum. But economic storm clouds gathered, brought budget crunches after decline state tax dollars forced wage freezes and lay-off s, and tuition increased virtually every year.

This is where Todd’s story becomes less salutatory. As he managed hard times, Mitch Barnhart’s universe prospered. Joe Craft bought basketball a new practice facility; UK’s piece of pie from the SEC’s ever growing war chest grew larger and moved Barnhart to announce plans to improve and build new ones. There was cash enough to pay off the Billy Clyde Gillispie fiasco; and enough to make its new basketball coach highest paid in America.

Barnhart put the squeeze on football and basketball fans again. Arm twisting for larger donations to the K Fund and raising game ticket prices.

Meanwhile, according to a research study published by Forbes. com, the University of Kentucky’s ranking among 610 colleges and universities in America, was 507th.

This week, Todd basks in warm praise from sundry political pundits and business analysts. Good for him.

A leap forward at UK the last decade? I don’t see it. Do you? View from here: the University of Kentucky is a Top 20 where it has always been, in men’s basketball.

Parting Shot

Sporting News, in its Sept. 13 issue, a columnists (look him up) said of Steve Spurrier, “Its sad to watch the Ball Coach put up 8-5 and 7-6 seasons at South Carolina, essentially making him irrelevant. The world of sports is so much better with classic villains, and Spurrier was the best (It’s the visor). Seeing him plod along is depressing. He should be 12-0 or 0-12. Nothing in between.”

Irrelevant? I doubt Kentucky fans have heard about Ball Coach’s irrelevance. His teams are 17-0 against the Wildcats. This week South Carolina is 2-0 and ranked 13th in the nation.

That Spurrier coached six SEC title winners and a national champion at Florida, and has USC in the SEC hunt, is relevance enough for Kentucky fans until at least October 16.

And so it goes. You may reach Bob Watkins at
Sprtsinky@aol.com.


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