Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March 18, 2009

An Open Letter to Billy Clyde

Clyde,

Let me tell you this… You recent characterization of what your job is as the UK basketball coach vs. what your job entails as coach of a storied basketball program demonstrates to me that what I thought when you were hired and now looks in my opinion to be a proven fact… Clyde, you had no idea what you were getting into and were a far cry from being ready to take this big of a step in your career… You are no doubt a good coach but it takes more then that here…

You see Clyde there are handful of basketball programs in college basketball where you cannot just be another coach and where there are certain aspects of the job that are part of the job requirement that you will not find anywhere else… I put UK, UNC, Duke, UCLA, KU, Louisville and IU in this elite company…

Many have tried to live up to the standards required to be a part of these storybook programs and many have succeeded and some have failed… Some of the failures at this level that I am most familiar with are Eddie Sutton, Mike Davis, Gene Bartow and Matt Doherty… All great guys and really good coaches who just could not perform on this stage… There are various reasons for their departures but one thing is for sure each relished the opportunity to be out from under this microscope…

At these universities the basketball coach is going to be the front man, the guy, the person the fans love win he wins but will question his every move when he loses a game and I mean any game… Fair??? Probably not but that is the reality of the situation and you can either respect it or try to ignore it but no matter what you do this is the world you live in as an elite basketball coach at one of these programs…

You as a coach at one of these storied programs are expected to handle the media, recruit the greatest players, play for and win championships, build student athletes who have character and respect not only for themselves but their university and respect the fans who support that university… Can you be a total ass to the fans and the media and get away with this behavior??? Yes you can if you are winning but ask Bob Knight what happens when the winning stops…

From the first day I saw you on the stage in Lexington accepting this responsibility to be the basketball guardian at UK I can go back and play it in my head now and see that the look in your eye and the facial expressions you made that day were of somewhat the WOW factor… I really liked some of the things you said that day but I have to admit that I was really unsure of whether or not you were ready to take on such a task…

If your approach from Day 1 Clyde has been this is just another basketball program then this explains why you have treated the fans with a very flippant attitude and have embarrassed yourself on national TV berated reporters who are doing what they are paid to do and ask questions… Sure some of these questions are rough but the answers are always easy by just throwing out every coaching cliché known to man for basketball… Your two predecessors were two of the best I have witnessed in dealing with the media and this rabid fan base where in my opinion you have failed miserably in this arena…

Maybe Mitch Barnhart did not paint the picture of what the job requirement was to be the guardian of UK basketball to you and if so then in my opinion that was a failure on his part but you should have known Clyde… You should have known then and should have known now this is not just another basketball coaching jobs this is one of the few that it takes a little bit more then you seem to be willing to put into it… I loved Tubby Smith not just for his coaching abilities but because he was a man of genuine character who put the student ahead of the athlete and managed to have a great level of success… The reason Tubby left is for the same reasons you are fighting and failing to embrace and he to just wanted to be a basketball coach…

You know Clyde you may turn it around… You may have a great level of success at UK or maybe even somewhere else but I will tell you this if you do not respect this coaching job, the responsibilities that go along with this coaching job and show a little more respect for the fan base the maybe even somewhere else will be the reality of your situation…

I wish you the best Clyde in whatever it is you decide to do or in the case someone else’s decides what you are going to do… There are always lessons to be learned in life about behavior, character and integrity that are allot of times easier to understand when you look back on past performances or situations and I hope for you that your approach can change and you can realize what you have right in front of you before it is to late at this stop..

You know Clyde it is OK that you just want to be a coach... I just want to be a project manager, not a District Manager, Disvision Manager or a CEO of my company because I do not want all the responsibility of those positions... I can do that at my job... You cannot do that as the Coach of UK... You have to be the CEO of Kentucky Basketball... Tubby did not want to do it and it looks like to me that you do want to do it either...


Tubby Bashers

For the Tubby bashers still out there… What Clyde is saying is “not” in his job description are the major reasons that Tubby left UK and are the exact reasons that there are allot of UK fans saying that Clyde is the not the guy for this program…

Say what you want about Tubby but Tubby always was and is still a classy individual… Tubby just wanted to be a basketball coach, does that sound familiar???

Tubby left talent (see the two players from UK on the first team SEC Team this year) on this team but in my opinion Clyde failed to raise the games or bring the best out of Harrelson, Galloway or Liggins and Miller was very inconsistent in his development… Play a little zone and you can hide some of the teams’ deficiencies and get more playing time for guys who are not built to play man to man all the time (Remember Tubby’s 1, 2, 2 zone that he played in the 98 season)… This is a team that should have won the SEC and been at least a five of six seed in the NCAA tournament and not the NIT… This year’s result is not Tubby Smith’s fault… By the way where is Tubby’s team playing this year in the post season???

UK basketball is in trouble whether they keep Clyde or run Clyde… It looks to be a no win situation at this point… I personally think that Clyde can be successful but he will never be a coach who can coach a team to a National Championship because he cannot adjust from game to game… When you do not have you’re A game you have to play your best B game (it happens in every sport you plan) and Clyde has said one way, his way is the only way…


The NCAA Tournament

As I set here and type I cannot even watch the NCAA the tournament selection show… Is this odd??? You know not really since I have not watched a full game other then UK play all year long… If UK were in would I be watching??? I really honestly do not know…

I have always been a huge college football fan and in the last three years football has by passed basketball for me… Is this because of the mediocre performance by UK the last four years??? I would say yes that is the difference...

Will I watch the NCAA tournament this year??? I am non-committal today… I am sure I will watch but with the awful CBS coverage it will be tough since they force-feed you some crappy games along the way… I am not buying the TV package that gets you any of the games that is for sure… Saturday I am going to the Boys State Tournament so it may be Sunday before I watch any games…

I think over time my interest level in college basketball will pick back up… I went from three years ago not watching any pro football at all to now I watch at least one game on Sundays and really looked forward the last two years to the NFL playoffs… It is for sure going to take UK to become a force on the national scene once again for me to get back to the interest level I had before in college basketball…

Who will win this year??? Louisville is playing well at the right time and the last time I think a Ricky P coached team was playing this well at this time of year was both the 96 and 97 UK teams… Syracuse is getting allot of hype but I think they will be done by the end of the second round… UNC is a mystery and I think the ACC is over-rated (especially Duke) but I still look for this team to make a run… Outside of these two teams I really have no idea…

I could not tell you one player who plays for Michigan State, UCONN, UCLA or Memphis and to me that for me that is amazing… I have noticed as I have gotten older I do not know all of the things about Sports as I used to know and that is because of the other interest I have developed, my focus on my job, my life, my family, my finances, etc… I still love to listen to the St Louis Cardinals each night on the radio in the summer and of course I love to play golf and I am looking so forward to playing allot more this year then I did last year…

The NCAA tournament??? We will see what happens with me over the next few weeks… Got a feeling I am going to spend allot of time working on my swing vs. watching the games… Hey it is less then one month away from Master’s weekend…


Top Five Golfing Memories of My Friends

1. The infamous “Your Jabbin At It” Incident with Wayne Hutchinson… You had to be there!!!
2. Sam Gibbs at Disney World hitting a ball with a fairway wood that went backwards off the clubface from a flat lie in the fairway…
3. Rob Johnson getting a hole in one at Audubon Country Club (first and only one I have seen live)…
4. Moto Vaughn making a seven on a par five after knocking two balls out of bounds (one off of the tee, one from the fairway)… Shot sequence was OB off the tee, 3rd Shot to middle of fairway, 4th shot over the green OB, 6th shot to about ten feet of pin, one putt…
5. Mark Cooper going to slap his ball off the green at Hamilton’s, stubbing his putter on the ground and crashing to the ground…


Random

- I am still convinced that Barnhart should not be fired as UK AD because of the progress of the other athletic teams at UK during his tenure… He has done some really great things for the non-revenue sports, which needed to be done for a long time… It just looks like he made a bad call on a basketball coach and got very lucky that the Brooksy thing has worked out the way it has…

- For those comparing Clyde to Brooksy that is unfair… What Brooksy has done has gotten UK to the level they should be every year… Can Brooksy get UK over the next hump and finish at least 3rd or better in the SEC East??? Brooksy had probation to deal with and that cost UK dearly… In the weakest SEC for basketball ever Clyde finished fourth in the SEC East with two all SEC performers, no comparison… Talent issue in basketball??? Not in my opinion…

- The NBA… Are they playing???

- Congrats to my alma mater Henderson County High School whose girl’s team made it to the High School Final Four before losing…

- Although there are no pictures to prove it I am pretty sure that I saw my friend Sam Gibbs and professional golfer Boo Weekly dancing at PGA National in the bar on the dance floor… I will say that I never saw Boo have a drink in his hand the entire night… I will also say what a nice guy he is to talk too… Just as genuine in person as he is on TV…

- Played the Polo Club on Friday (very exclusive club in Palm Beach where they play and we saw them actually playing Polo live in the flesh which was really cool in addition to golf)… It was a plush Pete Dye design with some unreal houses around the course… On Saturday we played The Hague Course at PGA National (right next to where they play the Honda Classic)… Loved the layout even though I played really bad that day (rough to play golf after not playing for five months)… Thanks to my buddy for Coop for getting us on these great courses and for showing us once again a great weekend at the Honda Classic… Sam Gibbs had the shot of the weekend on the last hole when he put his approach to about one foot… The guys at the bag drop claimed it was the shot of the week… Love those fast greens!!!

- My buddy Levi Cooper and I followed a couple of groups on Sunday on the front nine before settling in at the Bear Trap… We would watch the tee shots down the fairway and make sure we were around the green to watch the short games of these players… These guys’ short games are unreal… We saw two chip ins and saw Robert Allenby just miss two more… I sure learned a few things watching these guys chip and putt…

- The Netherlands upset of the Dominican Republic in the WBC is on the same level of the US Hockey Team beating Russia… The Netherlands combined MLB payroll from players on their team is less then $2 million while the DR’s was over $80 million…

- As the first part of Fantasy Golf season winds down I am in 1st Place for Scuffletown Country Club, 6th place in Fans of Devil Ball and 28th for Fans of Boo… I am in the 98th percentile overall… Pure Luck!!!

- Last time I saw UK play a game in Memorial Coliseum they played the Russians!!!

- I would have thought that U of L had been ranked Number 1 before especially during the Darrell Griffith era…


Music

I can now say the new Morrissey CD is great… His lyrics in these songs are great… Mara got the new U2 CD and it is sounding great also… If you missed U2 on Lettermen then you missed a week of not only some good live music but also some pretty funny skits by the band… Go to YouTube and catch them before CBS yanks them… Trying to line up a Summer Concert Trip to the West Coast…