Who Won the Sports Weekend? The Kentucky Wildcats #BBN

Posted: September 14, 2015 by jmklee in Uncategorized

Wow!  What a sports weekend.  What looked like a down week in college football ended up being one of the best I have remembered in a long time.  Couple that with bonus college basketball happenings and the NFL season kickoff and you have a hum dinger of a weekend.  (Yes, that is a thing)  But there was one group that really stood out and won the weekend.  The Kentucky Wildcats.

Let’s start with Friday night.  If anyone out there is still wondering how John Calipari continues to get the best kids in the land to not only come play at Kentucky but to buy into the team concept when they get on campus then Friday night was all you needed to figure it out.   Friday night Coach Cal was inducted into the basketball HOF and if Cal stood up at that podium and preached how he had arrived and how all the haters (I’m looking at your Forde) can kiss his backside I would not have blamed him.  But in typical Cal fashion he made it about the players that helped him get to that point.  This was the scene on stage as Cal gave his acceptance speech.

Photo courtesy of @NBA

Photo courtesy of @NBA

Cal brought up current and former players on stage with him to share the moment in a way that very few coaches in the game today could.  The naysayers will say it was nothing more than self-serving BS and are combing the NCAA rule books to see if this is some sort of recruiting violation.  To that I say HA!  Look, I was right there with many of you when Cal was named the new UK coach.  I was scared of the unknown and wondered if Cal’s checkered past would follow him.  It hasn’t.  I cringed when Cal said after Wall, Cousins, Bleadsoe and Patterson left to the greener pastures of the NBA it was the biggest night in Kentucky basketball history.  He was right.  I shook my head when he kept preaching about players first but guess what, I was wrong.  What makes this work is Calipari not only believes this but he lives it.  He lives the players first, you are your brother’s keeper, the players will drag us all to the top mantra.  He has fought up hill like a salmon wanting to spawn to make this about the kids and not the school.  For years college sports has always been about the name on the front of the jersey and when someone said it should be about the name on the back it was viewed as a negative.  The name on the back was the symbol of everything wrong about sports.  Corruption, greed and entitlement.

What Calipari has set up at Kentucky has only been done a handful of times in the history of college basketball.  Not only is he able to get the best talent year in and year out but able to get the best kids also.  When was the last time you heard about a kid getting in trouble at Kentucky?  It just does not happen.  These kids are told over and over by the coaches recruiting them Kentucky is not for everyone.  Kentucky is going to a demanding fishbowl where, as Cal puts it, if you want to smoke, drink and chase it is not the place for you.  If you do those things at Kentucky then Pat Forde and Jerry Tipton will write about it before you can exhale.

Come on, this is just an act put on for recruiting purposes.  Hey, I get it.  I used to say the same thing.  Frankly, sometimes I tire of it myself but when you see the outpouring from Cal’s former players that happened all weekend you know they love him.  If it was just an act it would be the players that would see it before anyone else.  Not only did many of his former players make the trip to Springfield, MA but then make the trip to Lexington for the alumni game and fantasy camp.

Speaking of the alumni game I want to point out that North Carolina was great and should be applauded for their roll this weekend.  Who else other than Kentucky could get ESPN to show up and telecast a MADE UP GAME that didn’t count during the mist of one of the biggest football weekends of the year?  NO ONE!  Not only were they on ESPNU but also had a very solid crowd for the event that raised somewhere close to 1.5 million dollars for charity.  But wait, Cal is horrible and ruining college sports right?  If spending the biggest weekend of your professional career with the ones that made it possible and raising money for charity is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.  What kid would not want to be apart of that.  Not many.

Hey, I thought it was football season!  What is all of this basketball talk?  You’re right Chester, it is football season and Mark Stoops and the Wildcats went on the road and beat a team no one thought they would beat.  Saturday night was a statement game for Kentucky.  It showed that the Cats are here this year to not only compete but win.  It showed that the recruiting work Stoops has done the past two years is starting to pay off.  It shows that you can not look past UK in the SEC East and it has opposing coaches throw your visor mad.

What a weekend for BBN.  Catch your breath because it is Florida week as the Cats look to end the longest loosing streak to an opponent in the country.  It sure is a fun time to be a Wildcat fan.

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