We are now nearly through the first week back at the office following the ridiculous road show known as the UK Barnstorming Tour. As I get back to the comfort of actually sleeping in my own bed and working at my desk every day, I have been greeted by a couple of threads on a couple of different message boards proclaiming the downfall of this site. Even though the numbers on this site continue to rise and are higher than I would have ever imagined, because I am a masochist and attempt to have everyone like me (a terrible trait for you kids scoring at home….or even if you are alone), I read through all and attempted to take them to heart. The general theme throughout is that this site (a) has taken a negative tone in recent months, (b) doesnt provide as much recruiting news and (c) is too stocked with my opinions. I thought about those for a minute, shook them around my blank section of a mind and realized a couple of things….
First, at least one of these criticisms is true. We dont have as much on recruiting as before. There are really three reasons for this. First, I simply dont have the time to do it like I used to. Between my new law practice, the website, the radio show and the Barnstorming Tour, there really isnt time to call these young whippersnappers and do interviews where they tell me their “top list” and then say everyone is equal. With those time concerns on my plate, the new guys (who are doing phenomenal by the way) are slowly going to do some of that work. When that happens, you will see more traditional recruiting interviews. But one caution….this site has never been, nor will it ever be solely recruiting based. While I understand the desire to have these interviews, after speaking with some families of players who actually came to Kentucky, I think the recruiting gurus (myself included in the past) go a bit overboard with them. While the families seem not to mind some interviews, the UK internet media takes it too far and every family I spoke with this season said it became a hassle quickly. Because of that, I have decided not to contribute to that mess of interviews any more than I have to for the radio show and this site. I think that is best for those families involved and while it may lead to a bit less news from this particular site, if all followed suit, it also leads to a lot less hassle for the players and their parents.
As for the other criticisms, I admit to being a bit baffled. I had Jay Bilas once say to me that “when people agree with you, then you are smart, when they disagree with you, then you are biased,” and I do think he is correct. I am not negative at all about the state of the program. I think Gillispie is a great coach and will make this program Top 10 on a yearly basis. However that does not mean I think everything he does is wonderful simply because he does it. Over the past year, I have noticed that anyone who gives ANY criticism of a Gillispie decision is perceived by a small minority to be an evildoer that simply must be run away. I thought Gillispie’s coaching at the beginning of last year had some holes, mainly because he did not play to his team strengths….but by SEC play, he adjusted (as he himself has admitted) and by the end of the year, I thought he was doing an OUTSTANDING job. Similarly on recruiting, I think he has done some amazing things. Getting Patterson to stay on board with the Cats, locking up KC Ross-Miller early, getting a future Lottery pick in Dominique Ferguson and bringing Jon Hood on board are all great accomplishments. I do however have mixed feelings on the Zollo and Euton commitments and think the 8th grade commitment was silly. However none of that means I am anti-Gillispie. It just means I have opinions (same as everyone) that at times are not in complete, 100% agreement with another person. You can think someone is great and not agree with everything they do. That applies to my fondness for Barack Obama, Billy Gillispie and my best friends. Free-thinkers disagree sometimes and that is all that has happened.
As for too many opinions on here, this is a blog….not a news site. Opinions are what blogs are about and without giving my opinion, I would have little interest in doing the site. Three months ago I very nearly quit the site. With the new firm, I honestly had lost a bit of passion for it and was ready to move on. But then I brought the new guys on board, traveled the state and saw how many people enjoyed it and got some new energy for it. The site has morphed over the years, but never straying from its mission of giving UK news and opinions “in the most ridiculous way possible.”
When I met my good friend Gregg Doyel and asked for his advice, he said, “dont become friends with anyone….if you do, you cant blast them.” Unfortunately for the site maybe, I havent heeded that advice, but I have learned a valuable lesson in the past year getting to know the people involved. You wont hear me say personal things about people, even where I am not a fan (like Tipton), because once you know them, you realize their public persona is not like what you thought. When we first began this site, I made a silly joke about Tom Leach and now I realize that he may be the kindest person and one of the best friends this site has. One might think they know the mindset of Joe Crawford, but when you see him breakdown at the site of three kids who have lost their father, you get a different view. And even a guy like Alan Cutler, who most think they know well, can show you a different side when you see him sign autographs and play with kids who recognize him from tv. I dont villainize people anymore, even those whose work I dont like, because they arent any different than you and I….folks working to make a living and not nearly as diabolical as we may have believed.
None of this is to say that you have to like the site….you obviously dont. But after spending the past month, traveling the state, attempting to recreate the passion of the Barnstorming Tour and bringing the players to small towns everywhere, I hope the mission of the site isnt questioned anymore. I have done this blog essentially for free for three years and my only real motive, at the bottom of it all, is my love for all things UK. Everytime I or Tomlin or Mosley or Bryan the Intern or Thomas or Evan or old man Intern write something, it is simply because we like doing it. When I read some of the vitriol thrown our way, I wonder if people remember that. We are extremely lucky to get to do this and it has opened up doors I would never have imagined. But at the end of the day, we are just like you….people who love the UK program. I hope even if you dont like the site or what you read, you will at least remember that before questioning those involved with it.
On a brighter note, off to Hoover this weekend to see the Bat Cats….