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Harry Caudill’s Thursday News and Views


Three days ago was the 20th anniversary of the death of one of the most important people for my part of the state in the last half-century. On November 30th, 1990, the author of “Night Comes to the Cumberlands”, Harry Caudill passed away in Whitesburg, Kentucky. Caudill was possibly the most important voice on the issue of poverty in Eastern Kentucky and other parts of Appalachia that existed in the 20th Century. With his book in 1962, Caudill exposed to the world the truth behind the living situation for those that lived in Eastern Kentucky and in so doing, precipitated a change in the area and ignited the beginning of the “War on Poverty.” Caudill showcased the exploitation of the region by outside financial interests and the general lack of support by governments, both on the federal and state level. President John F Kennedy was so moved by the book, that he began the War on Poverty initiative that was then implemented by his successor, President Lyndon Johnson. Over the next ten years, massive improvements to the living conditions, infrastructure and educational systems in Eastern Kentucky were implemented and the quality of life in the region improved. Caudill, a small-town Eastern Kentucky lawyer, continued to write books and speak out on issues, and continued to be the conscience of the region on a national scale for the next three decades. His criticisms evolved over time to include calls for the citizens of Eastern Kentucky to do their part to uplift the region and his frustration at the problems caused by lack of work ethic and drug abuse became his focus towards the end of his life. For anyone like me who cares about the region, “Night Comes to the Cumberlands” is a must read and Caudill an individual whose life should be known. He was a true example of those who passionately moved towards societal change and caused concrete improvements in the life of others, in his case the people of Eastern Kentucky. Below is a piece on Caudill by WYMT TV in Hazard, that coincided with his death 20 years ago and gives much more detail on his fascinating life.

To the news:

— The big story tonight is the story that will consume the next 48 hours, as the Enes Kanter appeal was apparently heard today at the University of Kentucky. Dick Vitale of all people broke the news this evening on Sportscenter, as he went off on a 2 minute rant in which he suggested that no good purpose was served by the NCAA not allowing the young man from Turkey to play. Kanter and NCAA Compliance Director at UK, Sandy Bell, were to address the NCAA Appeals Committee from Lexington and to give the “equity” side of the argument on Kanter…specifically noting the facts about his desire to be an Amateur, the money he turned down in order to play in college and the various difficulties that he and his father had in trying to follow NCAA rules that ultimately changed. Those around the University always believed that this “Equity” stage of the process was their best chance for success and there is a general “crossing of the fingers” feel to the next two days in Lexington. UK previously announced that they expected a decision from the NCAA within 48 hours of the appeal being heard, meaning we likely get a decision on Thursday or Friday. Stay tuned right here for the news as soon as it breaks..and as for an informed prediction…I dont have one and neither does anyone else.

— The other big story in the world of the NCAA was the decision to make Cam Newton eligible for Auburn. This immediately led a number of commentators (including this one) to wonder out loud, how a guy whose dad asked for money is ok and a player who turned it down is not ok in the eyes of the NCAA. Of course that is logical thinking, which is not part of the NCAA experience. What is important is the notion that Auburn used the (as Card Chronicle noted) Shaggy defense of “It Wasnt Me”, suggesting that a father’s mistakes are not the same mistakes as the son. Potentially this could be used by UK to argue that the father accepting money for educational expenses (which the NCAA doesnt allow) shouldnt affect the son when he doesnt know. However at this point, trying to figure out the NCAA is like trying to guess the stars in the sky. It will just end up as luck one way or the other. All we can do is cross our fingers.

— John Calipari has left Lexington, but is also doing basketball work as one source reported today that he visited 2012 target Ricardo Ledo from Connecticut. Ricardo attends South Kent and is considered to be one of the rising stars of the 2012 class, although not one that UK had been connected with a great deal up until this point. Ledo told Hoopstars that he has an offer from Kentucky and Calipari attended one of his practices today. I expect that we will see more movement on the 2012 class very soon and a quick narrowing as to UK targets. IF Ledo has an offer, then he looks to be one of those primary guys.

— As for 2011, there is still one spot open and UK still likes Trevor Lacey, who is averaging 46 points a game so far in four games this season. Yes you read that right…the Alabama player has 46 points a game and is a lights out shooter thus far. I say sign him up…yesterday.

— As for a team that isnt shooting well, lets look at Florida who joined the rest of the SEC in being AWFUL early this year. Florida lost to Central Florida 57-54, joining a list of SEC losses to teams such as St Peter, Hampton, Campbell, etc. In fact, the only team besides Kentucky that has looked consistently good is Tennessee…who lost an exhibition game to a Division II team. The SEC is going to be weak this year and the Big Ten looks to be the power conference going into this part of the season. That hurts my soul on both accounts.

The next two days are big days…we can talk UNC (and we will) and we can discuss the likelihood of heading to Birmingham. But what really matters (besides the fact that our players have well manicured feet) is that we will know the final verdict on Enes in the next 48 hours. Stay tuned here or follow me on Twitter at at this link to get the news as soon as it comes out. Its a longshot, but as Jim Carrey said in Dumb and Dumber, “so you’re saying there’s a chance.”

Here’s the radio show from Wednesday…I thought it was one of our better efforts in the couple of weeks. Remember that the tv show has launched on tv and included Mary Jo Perino talking about her breasts on tonight’s edition. That is something you rarely want to miss:

Article written by Matt Jones