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Kentucky Pride Before the Fall


Richie Farmer

The book was already written, the movie already shot. The “unbelievable true story” of the boy who started from the holler and rose to the rafters, then state office. Mix in a love story subplot and tab a way-too-handsome albeit believable leading man for the part and Disney would have its next big thing.

 

Then it all went to hell of course, and suddenly Disney’s feel good movie of the summer became the Coen Brothers latest black comedy of errors and ultimate tragedy.

 

In many ways, Richie Farmer was the face of The Unforgettables. That regal mountain ‘stache first sprouted around the age of three, the hustle, the clutch, the fundamentally flawless free throws…the prototype of a Fan Favorite. Of all the salutations in this state none carry the esteem of Mr. Basketball, which Farmer earned with his Sweet 16 heroics that make a ho-hum out of Hoosiers.

While there was nothing statistically legendary about his UK career it was more than respectable, considering his physical limitations and the state of the program at the time. Really, that’s all it needed to be to further cement his status as Kentucky Hoops Legend.

This is the part where Richie saddles up his horse and trots off into a lucrative sunset of car dealerships, a steakhouse, milk commercials, instructional videos or coaching. When you’re a legend, the possibilities really are endless.

 

Or, public office. Why not, right? Frankfort can be pretty cushy when you have an approval rating of 100% and your jersey hangs in Rupp Arena. The task seemed simple enough: bank your popularity, put that hard earned Ag degree to use in where else but the Department of Agriculture, shake hands, smile for pictures, say a few words about the Unforgettables and how it relates to sustainable farming techniques, defer decision making to the handlers, just whatever you do, KEEP YOUR HANDS OUT OF THE COOKIE JAR.

That it?

That’s it, good luck.

 

Mountains tower proudest,

Thunder peals the loudest,

The landscape is the grandest,

And politics–the damndest

in Kentucky.

“In Kentucky” by Judge James Hillary Mulligan (1902)

One could trace long trails of corruption at any level of politics. It’s simply a by-product of the power grab to which no state is immune. Certainly not Kentucky, where back-room dealing and front row swindling is almost a point of pride. Even with today’s scoop starving media digging through the muck and vindictive sources leaking out from both sides of the aisle, it really takes major transgressions to stand out. You have to be leaving a pretty large and reckless pile of shit to get taken all the way down. With a little bit of tact, lots of manipulation, a few bags of money, the occasional fall-guy and perhaps the right last name, one can usually find shelter from the political storms, provided of course, you’ve learn your lesson (or, found a better way to hide it).

 

Richie has many skills, such as the bounce pass, the jump shot and, well, that moustache, but political savvy, not even an ounce. Elementary school valedictorian can only get you so far, kids.

 

Look, the last thing I want to do is pile on. This isn’t a violent, dangerous, conniving individual here. There’s simply not enough ‘tools in the shed’ to connive much of anything outside a pick n’ roll. He’s just a simple man who got in way over his head and resorted to the Clay County ways of doin’ bidness, which is none of your damned bidness, see yall at church.

 

Even by Eastern Kentucky’s rugged, wild-west standards, Manchester stands out as an epicenter of corruption. A town where just a few years ago the FBI nabbed several of the county’s top officials in a bid-riggin’, vote-buyin’, drug-dealin’, cold blooded game of musical chairs. I’m sure that’s how their daddies did it, and their daddies before em, on down the line.

 

It’s a sad reality for the honest, hard working folks of Clay County who are as appalled as the rest of us looking in. Richie likely didn’t set out to game the system and reap the rewards, it just came natural. What separates crooks from straights is the ability to recognize that what comes natural ain’t always right. That, and a conscience of course, which he’ll have plenty of time to reconcile with. But that’s why Richie deserves no sympathy, and why we can comfortably laugh at the absurdity of it all.

 

Just picture the man up there in his big State office, boots flopped on the desk, fiddlin’ around with his phone, aimlessly looking in all the drawers and cabinets. Belly laughing at the baby who blows snot bubbles on Youtube. Of all the glaring transgressions and swindling, my personal favorite is the charge of driving around in the state issued vehicle with his tax-payer bought rifle and shooting a deer with said tax-payer bought rifle out of the window of said state issued car then sending in a staffer to field dress said deer, because what in the daggumed hell is a deer season any-ol-how?

 

So goes the story of Richie Farmer. Folk Hero. Unforgettable. Commissioner. Felon. Hopefully this latest chapter, is not The End.

 

Required Reading: The Legend of Richie Farmer

Article written by John Dubya

The Twitter: @Johnawilk

35 responses to “Kentucky Pride Before the Fall”

  1. Harmon

    Good post. Nice writing.

  2. Ridge Runner

    I know it’s just me but yes, we all know about the problems with Farmer. I would just rather not talk about it or see it in any news. I understand many do but for me, he was family and just didn’t turn out like he was supposed to turn out. Some things… (BBN-family related) shouldn’t be talked about on and on when those things are in a bad or negative light. Moving on, personally.

  3. Blue to the Bone

    That piece took some work! Well written. Well done!

  4. Mark A. Smith

    Good writing.

  5. Melissa

    Ridge, I know what you mean.

  6. Joe Ky

    All he had to do was shake hands and kiss babies, keep on the up and up and he was a lock for governor. Boy just ain’t real smart.

  7. edmonson76

    Nice post and a good read!

  8. Jaxalum

    that was brilliance Mr. Dubya.

  9. come on

    Mr Dubya,
    If political intrigue at the highest level of Government that involves Kentuckians are of interest to you look up Edward F. Prichard from Paris Kentucky. Magma cum laude graduate of Harvard, photographic memory, genuis level intellect, major piece in Franklin Roosevelt’s administrations. Too complicated for Harry Truman and J Edgar Hoover, left Washington, returned to Kentucky and its business as usual tactics to get the professional death sentence over about 250 votes. A person and story worth knowing.

  10. Put Richie In (jail)

    #6 yep, all he had to do was kiss babies and stay out of trouble. Now that’s scary.. Not that I wanted Richie to be what he turned out to be, or go to prison, but I am glad his public service days are over. You are right, he was close to being lieutenant Governor and from there who knows? Governor? All because he won a sweet sixteen and played for UK and nothing else.

  11. come on

    May have to use Edward F. Pritchard Jr. To find the right one.

  12. me

    we need one of our players to grow a mustache. I’m thinking Hood

  13. Stoops Troops

    F*@# Richie Farmer! Yeah, I said it…

  14. BFrey

    “He’s just a simple man who got in way over his head and resorted to the Clay County ways of doin’ bidness, which is none of your damned bidness, see yall at church.”

    Best line written on this site in a long time.

    Great piece.

  15. SideHatch

    With the first pick of the Kentucky Penal Basketball league draft, the Mudcutters select…..

  16. Teachable Mo'

    Ed Prichard wrecked his political career, but he didn’t let it ruin his life, and he made major contributions to our commonwealth afterwards.

    (no “t” in his last name)

  17. Jaxalum

    BFrey knows what hes talkin bout.

  18. KevvBacon

    ““In Kentucky” by Judge James Hillary Morgan”

    It’s James Hillary Mulligan? Is getting his name wrong part of the joke?

  19. Joe

    Dubya, you are a talented writer my friend. From personal experience, richie farmer is one of the biggest jerks on the planet. Any bad things that happen to him ain’t enough I wish he got 20 years. I’m not a hater but richie is the absolute pits as a human being, seriously the worst!

  20. come on

    Truman and Hoover sabatouged his career. 250 extra ballets in one election was never considered as anything of consequence at that time for anyone else.
    His contributions to judicial and legislative prudence had national impact. Education and inclusive vision for State Government are some of his best efforts for Kentucky.

  21. tyrus

    Farmer from day one as AG Commisioner failed to do his job. As a veteran of 30 yrs in state gov that served directly under a few elected officials, one could tell Farmer was a lost pup in high weeds. Farmer failed to do his job properly, a job that the good folks of the Commonwealth elected him to do. Well…failing meant he attempted to do his duties which he didn’t. Shortly after being sworn in the big wigs of the GOP had to call Farmer in for a meeting at headquarters. The problem, he wasn’t even showing up for work. It was all down hill from there. He abused his powers and totally ignored common state policy’s on a daily basis.

    When the renovation of Rupp Arena starts, they should remove his jersey from the rafters.

  22. KG

    So little Richie walks away after a few months in a half-way house with a slap on the wrist and his pockets full of money………..what a total crock!!!
    He funneled who knows how much public funds into his and others hands and embarrassed,his supporters,his family, the state, the University of Kentucky and now he says I’m guilty and gets a free ride!!!!!!! Not to mention a blue light special on his fiscal responsibility. Bottom line is he illegally took hundreds of thousands of tax-payer dollars which should be returned to the people of this state to the penny!! No exceptions

  23. tuxedo park

    You lost me at “rotund.” I don’t think Richie’ stache was ever round or chubby. Maybe “robust”, meaning healthy and strong…

  24. The English language

    Only in an idiocracy could a piece that is rife with grammatical mistakes, capitalization errors, and misused words (do you know what a salutation is?) be considered quality writing.

  25. Do whut?

    Let’s not glance over the fact that BBN is entirely complicit in everything that went down. Starting with his junior high school career Richie had been treated like a rock star by folks in Clay County. By the time his college career was over he was a demigod to a large portion of Kentucky fans. He somehow managed despite no experience and no particularly compelling skill set to parlay this hero worship into a rather influential political office all because he could put a ball through a hoop. You mean to tell me a man who had his butt kissed by an entire state since the 8th grade felt like he could act with impunity? Why golly, I just can’t figure out why.

  26. Do whut?

    Gloss over that is.

  27. Lexington 3

    24. Thanks for contributing nothing.

  28. Doo B. Doo

    Can’t we just overlook it when UK guys screw up? It’s not like this is real life or anything? Deandre Who? Richie What? I’m just going to put my fingers in my ear and sing “la la la” for a few minutes. Makes it all better.

  29. SevenT

    Kentucky Proud

  30. Rixter

    You look hanging in the Rupp rafters, we have Farmer and Pitino. Talk about Kentucky’s Shame. Maybe it’s time they took all the retired jerseys down, and scrutinize each one before it goes back up….

  31. springer

    The “Clay County way of doin bidness” is hilarious. Yet another great post by Dubya on an otherwise grim subject.

  32. Big Irv

    I think Jesus said it best when he said. Those of you who are without sin may cast the first stone.
    I don’t think any of us are without sin, so quit throwing stones!!

  33. Do whut?

    #22 not sure you’ve done much research or even read the plea deal. Richie would receive between a 21 and 27 month federal prison sentence. Every federal prisoner is required to serve 85% of his time with little chance of earlier release. He will also be ordered to pay over $120,000 in restitution. While it might be fun to trot out that tired, old chestnut about criminals and slaps on the wrist at work or the corner barber shop it doesn’t necessarily make it true.

  34. Really?

    I have lived my entire life in a connecting county with Clay. I remember hearing stories as a child and even remember people calling in Gunchester. It has a long standing history of violence, feuds(worse than Hatfield and McCoys, and even corruption in the last decade. I have since got a job in Manchester and have been there for around a year and a half. There are good and bad people every where you go. I have worked in all parts of the state and done a lot of traveling with my career. No matter where you go there will be these crooked people that seem to be involved in everything. I really tried to wrap my head around why this is? Richie is a great example of this. Popularity tends to take precedence over leadership. Many times more than qualified people don’t want to step up and take the role that they would be well suited for. So in turn whoever the most popular guy is that knows everybody is like I can win this, they all like me. If Richie would not have run for Lt. Governor he could have tried some smaller office and never got caught! That is what the scariest thing is about all of this. We should all take the right to vote serious and try to convince the most qualified people to help our great communities, cities, state, and country to be all it can be. Don’t let all the horror stories fool you! Clay County is a wonderful true Appalachian county with some of the most wonderful people you can find. Then again I guess Louisville or Lexington has all great people as well…. right????

  35. Really is correct

    You make good points, Really !
    Clay County does not have a patent on political dummies.
    How about Mr. Weiner?
    Or, Lexington’s own Scotty Basler who rose to the level of Congressman and gave his famous speech on welfare. On the house floor while delivering that speech, he posed one question over and over….”where IS the Daddies?”
    I am not defending Richie and I do not live in Clay County, however I do not agree with the inference that Richie did not know better because he grew up in Clay County.