Is this today’s episode of “As The World Turns?”
If the early reports are correct, Memphis State is going to have to forfeit all of its wins from the ’07-’08 season and, for the second time in its checkered hoops history, vacate a Final Four appearance.
All together now: Awwwwwwwwww!
It just brings a smile to my face. At such moments of travail for Tiger fans, I keep thinking of a moment in the concourse at Mid South Coliseum before a Metro tourney title game. A 12 year old Memphis State fan and I were having fun, giving each other good natured grief. Until his mom grabbed his arm, jerked him away and scolded him, “How many times have I told you. Never ever talk to a Louisville fan.” Then there was that Monday night meltdown against Kansas we got to savor. Not that Memphis State could have kept the title had they won it.
This also means that the coach of that team, John Calipari, recently anointed Savior of the Bluegrass, will become the first coach in history to have two Final Four appearances abandoned. His UMass team in ’96 also had to cough one up.
As James Ramsey and Tom Jurich have done with The Rick, the governor and Mitch Barnhart are standing by their Main Man in Lexington. As the Cardinal contingent continually reiterates, Pitino’s peccadillo was “six years ago,” so are the UK spokespeople making sure the public understands that the NCAA charges did not implicate Calipari.
So, while the red & black faithful glory in their schadenfreude on this day, the Big Blue acolytes are hemming and hawing and obfuscating. And, gee, wasn’t it just a week ago, that it was vice versa?
Indeed it was.
While it is devilish of me to do so, when contemplating Calipari’s status at top of the college hoops world, I keep thinking of this Tony Montana diatribe in “Scarface”:
What you lookin’ at? You all a bunch of fuckin’ assholes. You know why? You don’t have the guts to be what you wanna be? You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your fuckin’ fingers and say, “That’s the bad guy.” So… what that make you? Good? You’re not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie. Me, I don’t have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy! Come on. The last time you gonna see a bad guy like this again, let me tell you. Come on. Make way for the bad guy. There’s a bad guy comin’ through! Better get outta his way!
Apologists will rightfully and justifiably point out that Calipari has never been cited, that his record with the NCAA is clean, and that, smarmy as it is, the UK coach has navigated the waters of NCAA recruiting like a perennial America’s Cup champion skipper. The Naysayers will pull out the photos of the wreckage Calipari has left behind during his climb up the ladder to the pinnacle of college hoops.
Calipari hasn’t misstepped once since he grabbed the Wildcat reigns. The lingering question, even among the most diehard of Kentucky fans, is whether he’ll deliver the championship(s) they crave and not bring more dishonor on the most penalized school in history. Now that he’s made it to the top, will he quit his evil ways?
Louisville fans similarly must balance their wariness about Pitino (who was always part of a devil’s bargain for many) with The Rick’s coaching acumen and their desire for another title and belief that he’s the coach to do it.
This is Hoopsylvania after all. We love our teams. UK, U of L and IU across the river have all had tough rows to hoe recently. Stature has been shattered. It’s been cyclical, this rondo of trouble that won’t seem to leave the Bermuda Triangle of College Basketball.
But that’s the way it is today. The beginning of practice is less than two months away. Only then will we be able to stop the finger pointing, stop wondering if there are more secrets to be revealed, stop making insinuations about the other team’s people, and let accomplishments on the court speak for themselves.
It won’t be any too soon.
– Seedy K