Saturday, April 04, 2009

April 4th

Coaching Change at UK

Before I even get into this let me make sure there is one thing that everyone is clear on (something that Mitch Barnhart also pointed out during the introduction of Coach Calipari)… The UK Athletic Department is a separate entity then the University itself… The Athletic Department through donations (directly to the department) and the gates from events took in $67 million dollars last year in revenue… They operate with a profit, have a reserve of money and are consistently one of the top donators of money to the University…

This is important to understand because whatever buyout UK decides on with Clyde or to pay it’s new coach it will NOT come out of any state tax dollars provided to the University nor does the total compensation of the new basketball coaches… So for the people out there that are clamoring about how the Athletic Department is going to spend the money they have earned you are barking up the wrong tree…

We are in a time where people who are financially responsible and people who make money are under attack because of the transgressions of a small percentage of people and attacking the UK Athletic Department is unfair… You should worry about the “spend” more then you make mentality of the State and Federal Governments and not an organization that is standing on it’s own two feet… Do the research and you will find these entities are the driving forces behind the so called "financial crisis" and the federal government continues to run the largest “ponzi” scheme in the history of the world (folks it is not Bernie Madoff’s illegal scheme that is reported as the biggest ever) called Social Security… As Dave Ramsey says, “Debt is Dumb, Cash is King…”

So this is a first… The first time in my lifetime that a UK basketball coach has been fired (Eddie Sutton resigned before the hammer dropped)… What a whirlwind the last three years have been for UK Basketball…

First of all I think I understand the reasons why Clyde was not the guy… First and foremost he would not accept that he could just not be a coach at this program… He was going to need to do much more… As for the on the court he failed to develop the new players he brought in this year, failed to be willing to adjust and play some zone at times and did not hardly ever press… His switching just to switch defense just would not work with the players he had… Fair to let this guy go???

I am not sure of what all the off the court issues were but based on the comments I saw from Jodie Meeks father it seems like he had not only alienated the fans but also some of the parents of the program… All I know is I found Clyde to very condescending when dealing with the fans on his radio show (except for his last one) and of course his horrible behavior toward an ESPN reporter just made me cringe when I heard him do it not once but twice…

Fans will be fans… The call in shows are tough… If you ever listened to call in show for any other college team the UK call in show is about the same… You get some crazy comments and questions from people who are probably more interested in being on the radio then they are asking an actual question… Same with the halftime interviews during games, the questions are always kind of cliché and not very informative in general and are really about face time…

When dealing with the fans you need to know what you are getting and for one hour each week you put on your best face, listen to what they have to say, thank them for listening and come up with a response to whatever their question may be that is not contrite or condescending… I heard Joe B do it, I heard Rick do it, I heard Tubby do it and I have heard many other coaches do this same thing… You cannot be flippant and unresponsive to this group or to the host of the show for that matter… As for the half time interview you use every coaching cliché you can think of in your response at that time and you must remember at that point you are a spokesmen for your program at that point…

Should Clyde have been fired??? Who knows??? I think he should have gotten another chance, another year but it appears that Barnhart gave him a list of the things he wanted changed or wanted him to do and Clyde said no thanks, that is not why I am here… I am here just to recruit and coach… That will work well at allot of programs but not this program… If he said no I would not do those things then Mitch had little choice… I believe there is still way more to the story…

For the people who continue to say that UK ran off Tubby Smith I say “bullshit”… The enormity of the program is what caused Tubby Smith to leave… He too just wanted to recruit (some will question his dedication to recruiting) and coach… He recognized that this would not be enough at this program and chose on his own to leave… Had he stayed then he too would have to had changed his ways and he was not willing to do that so he left… I personally have the utmost respect for Tubby for recognizing and making his decision to leave… Point is Clyde and Tubby were allot a like but Clyde recruited much harder and it was showing…

I think it will be interesting to see the player reactions over the next couple of weeks… Think about the players who have left the program in the last year… Legion, Williams, and Jasper all had varying reasons for leaving but the Jasper situation is the most intriguing one to me… It is obvious this kid did not want to play last year and wanted to set another year to get his knee healthy… Sure the doctors released him to play but at UNLV the kid sat out this year and had done nothing but rehab is knee… He did not even practice with the team at all… To me that is a very curious situation… Will there be a mass exodus of players???

As for Mitch Barnhart he and Doctor Todd have made a big mistake and should be held accountable for this mistake… I personally like Mitch Barnhart and what he has done for all the athletic programs at UK… Women’s basketball, volleyball, soccer, tennis and golf are all on the up swing and if you talk to people who were in these programs before Mitch arrived then you will understand what all of this means… As for the Men’s non-revenue sports just look at baseball, golf, tennis and soccer and you will say see the same results… Folks this is not just a basketball school and if you think that is the case then you are a very narrow minded individual…

Mitch has been able to do this by implementing revenue streams that did not exist before he arrived at UK but had been done by other SEC schools for year… Although I still think Mitch got lucky with Rich Brooks he has a football program that is on the up swing and for those of you who do not realize it football pays for allot of the non revenue sports… You have to have people in those seats for football if you want to run a successful athletic department and you need a good stream of donations coming in to the department… Remember again UK Athletics stands on it’s own and is not subsidized with any tax payer money and they have donated money to the University from these coffers and will continue to do so…

I believe that Clyde has some major character flaws that I see as common ground among men 25 to 50… I will let you figure those out yourself…



Top Five Coaching Candidates in my book:

1. Billy Donavan (because he has been here before)
2. John Calipari
3. Mark Few
4. John Pelphrey (if he would have just had a better year)
5. Travis Ford (I hate even having him on the list)


Tubby’s Comments about Cal’s Contract

Former Kentucky Coach Tubby Smith defended the mega money UK put in a contract for new coach John Calipari.

During a news conference on Thursday for the National Association of Basketball Coaches at the Final Four, a reporter noted that a university president had used the words “mind boggling” and “eye popping” to describe Calipari’s eight-year, $31.65 million contract to be Kentucky coach.

When asked if there was any way to defend such a contract, especially with the world economy struggling, Smith said, “Yes. It’s a free market.”

Each school is free to set its own priorities and act upon those priorities, Smith said. “I can tell you they love their basketball in Kentucky. It’s something special.”

Here is my spin:

The point is yes the “World Economy” is struggling but there are entities and people that are not struggling and they should not be vilified for having a successful financial plan… That is bullshit!!!


Does Calipari Have the Right Level of Integrity

There is a list of transgressions (NCAA and some behavior issues) that have been committed by players that have played and currently play for Coach Calipari… That is one spin…

There is also a list of transgressions (none to my knowledge were ever linked to their coach) committed by players who played for during their coaching tenures such as John Wooden, Joe B Hall, Denny Crum, Steve Fisher, Billy Donavan and now Jim Calhoun… These coaches have never been found guilty of any wrong doing to this point… That is another spin…

The only coach-to-coach UK basketball (other than Eddie Sutton) including Coach Cal, to be tied to an NCAA violation was Rick Pitino when he was at Hawaii… It was a minor violation and I am not sure that anyone was ever penalized for this transgression or mistake…

Calipari like these other coaches has not been found guilty of anything… While at UMASS it is well documented that Marcus Camby was doing some bad things with alumni… Alumni or an agent was implicated and not the coach… There was some shadiness also at Texas A & M while Clyde was coach there that started under the previous coach and continued during Clyde’s tenure there… No rules violations but some questionable class schedules were the apparent issue as reported by HBO Sports two years ago…

Is Calipari the right guy??? If I were sitting in Mitch Barnhart’s chair my back up plan would have to be John Pelphrey… I still say that Johnny P, like no one else, gets what this gig is about… Question is can Johnny P recruit the level of talent needed to put UK Basketball back in the top 10??? I believe he can coach with the best of them but would he just suddenly be able to recruit because he is at Kentucky??? Tough question… If Johnny P had won the SEC West, made it to the sweet 16 or further then there would be no question that he would have been in Lexington on Monday accepting the job…

My wish is that Johnny P steps away from Arkansas and become the number one assistant at UK or the coach in waiting… Why not??? That my friends is the right thing to do but it will not happen…

As for Calipari… I think with Billy D saying he had no interest he had to be the guy you go to next from a pure coaching stand point… There is potential baggage there for sure but UK will not put up with any “shady” behavior and that is obvious to me after the two-year career of one Clyde… There is no doubt that Clyde has/had some “shady” behavior and I doubt the entire story will never be told… In the end Calipari may not want to be in this pressure cooker and that is OK because I am not sure that I would either… Tough gig!!! I remind you that the only coach to coach at UK who has been convicted of an NCAA violation besides Eddie Sutton is Rick Pitino…

Mark Story from the LHL newspaper has a great article questioning some of these transgressions that surround Calipari… He raises some valid concerns but there is nothing there that will tell me not to hire this man… This man can handle it and this man can get Kentucky back to being Kentucky on the basketball court very quickly…

I also have total confidence the Sandy Bell; The UK Compliance Officer along with Barnhart will keep it clean!!!


The Press Conference

He gets it… He gets the history, the expectations both on and off the court and what it means to the community and the commonwealth to have a coach involved like he will be involved… His wife is a class act and she will be a huge asset from the city of the Lexington and for the entire Commonwealth…

I really liked that he recognized Bill Keightly’s family, former players, Herky Rupp (Adolph’s son) and former coaches to get feedback and addressed the enormity of the situation, what it means to him and that those are the reasons he took the job…

He was very straightforward about his system, the current players, recruits, Memphis recruits and current Memphis players… There are probably a few players on the current UK team that will choose to go somewhere else (I do not blame them because during my time I was a great shooter off the screen, off the catch or spot but dribble drive and create my own shot was not in my game so I could play defense in this system but that would be it) and if they are not a good fit then I do not blame them… Same for the recruits…


What is the dribble drive offense???

SI did a big spread on this last year... They compared it to the Spread offense in football... It is a variation of what Duke has run for years (no set plays and you position yourself based on the person who has the ball and where they break to on the floor)...

Basically the guy driving will know where the players have broke too based on where they are positioned on the floor so if penetration is not there then they know where option b, c and d are positioned... If Galloway drove down the lane left then Meeks would be on the left wing for a three, Patterson would be on the left baseline for a kick and Stevenson would be coming down the weak side baseline... The fifth player would move to the top of the key (for a rebound or a kick from Patterson or Meeks)...

People will say that Cal just throws the ball up and lets them play… This is not true… This will be their primary way to run the offense but he will also adjust to how the other team is defending or the situation and run set plays and half court… They will also play some lock down defense…

All I can say is man I am excited… This was slam-dunk hire and I have very high hopes for the next five to ten years…


Baseball

The Louisville Bats kick off next week and the Major Leagues get under way this weekend… Everyone is picking the Cubs to win the National League so Cubs fans looks like another tough year…

My Redbirds have new faces and with some solid pitching should be a contender for the National League Central… The questions will be around their offense and the return of Troy Glaus (I am still reeling over not having Scott Rolen, the pre-injury potential hall of Famer Scott Rolen)… The Redbirds have some new faces and have a new “most” of the time or “primary” second basemen so they can have all their potent bats from last year in the line up at the same time… Their problem is no one to bat behind Puljos…

Everyone is predicting a Cubs and Yankees World Series… I am going with an Angels and Dodgers…

Can’t wait for Ricky Henderson’s Hall of Fame Speech!!!


Random

- Spring Football has started at UK… The Spring Game is April 25th and I will be there with bells on… I CAN’T WAIT FOR FOOTBALL and if all goes well I will see 9 of UK’s 12 games live in the flesh this year…


- Are we sure the NBA is playing… Still not watching…. The NBA like Major League Baseball is just too many regular season games… If both of these leagues would knock their regular seasons down by ten games their product would probably become more viable…

- If you have not caught any of the Haney Project on The Golf Channel check it out… He is trying to fix the hitch in Charles Barkley’s swing… If you are a golfer then you know what it is like to take your swing from the range to the course and what that means… Good stuff…

- ShagOnGolf finished first for the Spring Meet for Scuffletown Country Club, Third in the Fans of Devil Ball and twelfth in the Fans of Boo Weekly Pick sets… Luck, Luck, Luck and more Luck… Not playing Fantasy baseball again this year due to the time commitment associated with it (I cannot do anything half way in this arena)…

- There was a great audio interview of Chi Chi Rodriguez on Devil Ball last week… Talk about somebody who made something out of nothing this guy came from extreme poverty to not only become a great golfer but a great ambassador who runs a children’s foundation in Florida for underprivileged kids that is centered around golf… The best story was he said when he met Mother Teresa and shook her hand every hair on his body stood straight up… Chi Chi said based on where he came he used being poor to his advantage and quickly realized that if he wanted to make something of his life it was going to be up to him to do it and as he said, “That is what I did”…

- Tiger Woods will win the Masters!!!

- Sister Jayne is leading the ShagOnBasketball pick’em pool along with the other Western Grad in the pool Biddy Haynes… They could end in a tie of Wayne Hutchinson could sneak in to the victory circle if things go his way…


Music and Entertainment

“Put on your Boots…” Taking my wife for her Birthday to see U2… Will be a great end to the summer and the start of fall… The new U2 CD is one of their best, song 4 is fantastic and every Church Choir in the US should sing this song because it is so up lifting… U2 has such a great spirit and such a great spirit in their songs… Them all being around the same age I am makes me believe they are seeing the world through a similar set of eyes and that is reflected in the lyrics in their songs and why I relate to them… On the lines of entertainment… We had a discussion last weekend about the movie Fast Time at Ridgemont High and the fact the movie had three future Oscar winners Sean Penn, Forrest Whitaker and Nicolas Cage (aka Nicolas Coppola) in the cast… Also if you are not watching the show “Life On Mars” then you are missing out…