CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Knight's stupid statement matched by UK fans' dumb reaction

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That elite talents practically guaranteed to play basketball for a living are each year essentially forced into a college environment where they neither belong nor want to be is ridiculous. So I agree with Bob Knight. The NBA's so-called one-and-done rule is bad for what college basketball is supposed to represent, and if he had just left it at that the ESPN analyst would've stayed out of the news this week.

People have their views of John Calipari and they aren't changing. (US Presswire)  
People have their views of John Calipari and they aren't changing. (US Presswire)  
As you know, Knight did not.

"Kentucky, year before last, started five players in the NCAA tournament games that had not been to class that semester," Knight said during a speech in Indiana last weekend. "And that's that one-and-done philosophy."

And that, apparently, is enough to start an offseason controversy.

Knight could've made his false accusation -- and it was an obviously false accusation -- about 95 percent of the schools in America and 95 percent of college basketball fans would've never heard a thing about it. Making the comment about Kentucky is where he went wrong. Doing so turned an off-the-cuff remark into a national story, mostly because UK fans gather in big numbers and are -- stop me if you've heard this before -- easily offended and a little bit crazy. They just care about stuff like this more than anybody should. So they had no trouble convincing themselves that Knight telling a group of people in Wabash, Ind., (Population: 10,066) that Eric Bledsoe and DeMarcus Cousins didn't go to class during the second semesters of their freshmen years even though they did go to class during the second semesters of their freshmen years is a super-big and important deal.

Me?

I think it's all stupid.

I think Knight's comment was stupid.

I think the reaction has been stupid, too.

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Best I can tell, what we have here is a 70-year-old man with a reputation of being out of touch and a history of dumb comments making another dumb comment that makes him again seem out of touch, and that's pretty much it.

I can't imagine anybody exited Knight's speech with a greatly different opinion of John Calipari or Kentucky because, let's be honest, most people don't take Knight seriously anymore on anything other than man-to-man defense. The majority of folks who would get fired up about Calipari having players who supposedly don't go to class probably don't think it ranks among the five worst things that happen at UK on an annual basis. Fair or not, Calipari's reputation is cemented. There are many shades to the Kentucky coach, no doubt. But the majority of people view him in a black-or-white way, and that's just the way it's going to be forever and always.

The folks who think Calipari is a god were never going to be swayed by Knight and his false accusation any more than the folks who think Calipari represents everything that's wrong with college basketball will ever be swayed by facts that suggest he's just really, really good at finding loopholes in the system and exploiting the hell out of them, meaning the result of all this is nothing. It's just a story of one polarizing figure making a false accusation about another polarizing figure and his program while trying to make a larger point about a system that invites criticism. Add a YouTube clip, a rabid fan base, the power of social media, a slow news cycle and a subsequent (and short) apology from Knight, and what we have is a national controversy that seems just as dumb as the remark that sparked it. For the first time since the games ended, it really does feel like the offseason.


Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.
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