Here's Thursday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: Why do you hate Kentucky?
-- Every UK fan on the planet
That's not an actual email I received -- just a combined and condensed version of about 100 emails I got Wednesday after writing a breakdown of the Indiana-Kentucky matchup for the CBSSports.com National Champions All-Stars Bracket. Like I predicted, the Kentucky fans were out in full force. One guy wrote that he hopes I die, another said he hopes my family dies and though another guy didn't exactly wish death on anybody, he said he planned to soon because his birthday is coming up. So when they light the candles and instruct him to make a wish, I'm told, he plans to wish for my death.
(What ever happened to wishing for world peace?)
Anyway, what I'd encourage Kentucky fans to do is look at the other breakdowns I've written for this series and recognize that not a single one is in a serious tone. I've written about Bobby Hurley's truck accident, Bob Kenney's hair and Michael Jordan's inability to succeed in divorce court. So why anybody thought I would "just stick to basketball" when it came time to write about Kentucky and not mention Ralph Beard's and Alex Groza's point-shaving scandal is beyond me. Every word I've written in this series has been goofy or sarcastic or both. I'm just trying to have fun with it. That's all.
Now to Adolph Rupp.
Honest to God, I didn't think UK fans would take my comment about him so seriously considering it was preceded by a sentence explaining how I was worried Beard and Groza might throw the game and make the National Champions All-Stars Bracket a controversial event. I mean, I was just playing around, you see? But I clearly angered some people when I joked that it was unclear whether Rupp would be able to coach Tony Delk and Jack Givens considering he didn't recruit a black player to Kentucky until the end of his 41-year career, and for that I'd like to -- ready for this? -- apologize. In fairness (to myself), I didn't actually call Rupp a racist and was only joking about race, and I wish everybody liked to goof around the way I do. But I can understand why some believed my goofing around perpetuated the theory that Rupp was a racist, and that's a theory that seems to range from debatable to unfair depending on whom you ask.
Yes, it's true, Rupp did not coach a black player until he signed Tom Payne in 1969. But the SEC as a whole didn't have a black scholarship basketball player until Perry Wallace played for Vanderbilt in 1966. So at worst Rupp was just three years behind Vandy, and people close to Rupp insist he would've signed a black player earlier if not for the fear of taking one on the road to places like Ole Miss.
Anyway, I'm not here to give a history lesson on Adolph Rupp.
And I'm not interested in defending him, either.
Let's be honest, the man was no saint.
But I cannot tell you for a fact that Adolph Frederick Rupp was a racist, and if he truly was not a racist - as many insist -- then I think it sucks that so many basketball fans think of him that way. Consequently, I should not have inferred what I inferred and perpetuated the theory of Rupp the Racist because I hate it when people do it in other walks of life, whether it's the repeated stupid and cliched myth of Obama the Muslim or whatever. So even though I was merely joking, it's probably a joke I could've left out of the column. And unless somebody provides me with some hard evidence that Rupp was indeed a racist I don't plan to ever characterize him that way again.