Posted on: July 17, 2008 4:05 am
Edited on: July 17, 2008 4:11 am

Dear Gary (on Kentucky/Adolph Rupp)

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. 

Posted on: July 17, 2008 4:03 am
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Posted on: July 7, 2008 11:52 am
Edited on: July 15, 2008 1:25 pm

DEAR GARY (on Donovan/Gillispie)

AKRON, Ohio -- Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: So how long did that NABC recommendation last?  Was it even a month?  It kind of looks bad when one of the most high-profile coaches (Billy Donovan) completely disregards the suggestion (by taking a commitment from rising sophomore Austin Rivers).  I know it is not a rule but a recommendation/suggestion, but does this mean all bets are off and teams can go back to doing what they were doing?  Full disclosure, I am a Kentucky fan and I think the "rule" is dumb.  If a coach wants to offer a kid and the kid and his family want to accept, what's the problem?  So, what do you think happens now with recruiting?

-- Kevin

I got a lot of emails like this, including one from a Kentucky fan wondering why Billy Gillispie was ridiculed for taking a young commitment while Donovan did it without much of an uproar. I actually asked Gillispie about this Sunday night, and he just smiled without comment. But I think the simple answer is that Gillispie committed an eighth-grader instead of a ninth-grader -- which just seems a lot younger, for whatever reason -- and that he did it in a state where basketball rules 12 months a year. Meantime, Donovan's young commitment came in a state where basketball is secondary and at a time (the week after the NBA Draft) when people weren't paying attention much. I mean, the week after the NBA Draft is vacation time, far as I'm concerned. So when that story came down last week I was on vacation (though I still wrote it) and I know at least one other national college basketball writer who was on vacation, too.

In other words, Donovan has impeccable timing.

But in all seriousness, I'm mostly with you, Kevin. I don't necessarily believe the rule is "dumb" but I do think it's going to be incredibly difficult to enforce because verbal commitments don't actually mean anything anyway and nobody is binded by them. So how can a coach be forbidden from "offering" something that can't be offered in reality? And even if he is, the NABC will never be able to stop a young prospect from telling a reporter he wants to go to Kentucky or Florida, and all Kentucky and Florida have to do in response is tell the NABC that they haven't technically offered anything and that though the prospect might've been under the impression that a scholarship was his if he wanted it, a scholarship was never formally offered and what can you do?

Anyway, do you see my point?

My basic rule on rules is to only have them if they can be enforced, and I just don't think this can be enforced. So my suggestion would be for the NABC to state its position and let coaches do what they will, then focus on cleaning up what really needs to be cleaned up, and what can.

Posted on: June 3, 2008 11:19 pm
Edited on: June 4, 2008 12:42 am

Eight schools in play for Iowa State transfer

Iowa State standout Wesley Johnson has been granted a release to transfer to any one of eight schools.

On the list are Arkansas, Connecticut, Marquette, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Villanova and West Virginia. Fine programs, all of them. But it was hard not to notice that Kentucky, Alabama and TCU were not included because those have been the three schools most connected to Johnson in recent weeks, so much so that sources have told CBSSports.com that the Iowa State staff privately felt behind-the-scenes tampering could've led to Johnson's initial decision to transfer.

Obviously, there is no proof. That's why everybody has mostly been quiet. But it appears ISU made it clear to Johnson that Kentucky, Alabama and TCU were not schools to which it would automatically release him. Otherwise, those institutions would've certainly made the list.
Posted on: May 22, 2008 5:44 pm
Edited on: May 22, 2008 6:43 pm

Lots of people go to Kentucky basketball games

The final figures are in: Kentucky led the nation in attendance this season. Again. It marks the 12th time in 13 years that the Wildcats have led in attendance, a statistic that demonstrates how UK has the most committed fans in the country ... and a really big home arena.

Kentucky averaged 22,554 fans to top the list by more than 2,000 people per game.

Interestingly, three of the top eight schools are from the SEC.

The entire Top 10 is below:

1. Kentucky (22,554)

2. North Carolina (20,497)

3. Syracuse (20,345)

4. Tennessee (20,267)

5. Louisville (19,481)

6. Maryland (17,950)

7. Wisconsin (17,190)

8. Arkansas (17,148)

9. Indiana (16,876)

10. Memphis (16,748)
Posted on: May 20, 2008 12:27 am
Edited on: May 20, 2008 10:42 am

Kentucky is a possibility for ISU transfer

Wesley Johnson did not inform the Iowa State coaches about his future plans when he told them he wanted to transfer.

Of course, that doesn't mean he doesn't know where he's going.

My experience with this stuff is that 99.9 percent of players know where they're headed long before they make an announcement about transferring, and sources said Monday afternoon that Johnson likely falls into this category. The most likely destination, I'm told, is Kentucky, which would make sense when you consider Billy Gillispie's strong Texas roots and the fact that Johnson is from Texas.

Two other schools Johnson is supposedly considering are Alabama and TCU.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 15, 2008 11:19 am
Edited on: March 15, 2008 11:19 am

Lets play two!

The SEC Tournament is taking the form of an AAU Tournament.

Two games in one day?

The only thing that'll make this better is if the teams with the second game -- Tennessee and Arkansas -- have to sit in the bleachers to watch Kentucky-Georgia while Sonny Vaccaro comes out to give a speech at halftime. Oh yeah, and I'm gonna need a bunch of chairs all around the court, you know, for other coaches to sit in. And I need officials in shorts. And can't they just roll in two more goals at Georgia Tech, turn the court sideways and play two games at the same time so everybody can watch four rosters full of players at once?

I mean, if the SEC is going AAU it needs to go all out.

I want somebody's uncle who happens to be on a Nike payroll to coach every team.

And I want to see runners for agents on the freakin' bench, drawing up plays and handing out cash.

And ... (I could go on for 500 more words but I think I'll just stop right here)
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Georgia, Kentucky, SEC
Posted on: March 14, 2008 12:36 pm

Yesterday was a good for Arkansas and Kentucky

John Pelphrey and Billy Gillispie must've sat around Thursday loving how the day unfolded because the teams coached by those men -- Arkansas and Kentucky -- are on the top end of the bubble (if there is such a thing) and practically everybody below them lost Thursday while the Hogs and Wildcats enjoyed first-round byes in the SEC tournament.

So if both schools lose Friday, yeah, they'll drop.

But could they really drop below all the other teams that dropped Thursday?

I doubt it. And the other great thing is that pretty much every bubble team is finished building its body of work outside of Temple, Saint Joseph's, Virginia Tech and perhaps Florida State. In other words, Arkansas and Kentucky are going to have a hard time dropping below the teams that lost yesterday that were already below them and there isn't a slew of schools on the outside of the bubble charging into the weekend.

Consequently, it seems Arkansas and Kentucky are probably safe regardless of the outcomes of their Friday games.

Still, my advice is to win them if you can.
Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com