This picture has become the “Josh Harrellson shooting a free throw” type of picture, because its all we have on Tipton. Believe me, I wish I had another picture, but its the only one I can find. So we use it again.
Sometimes I get accused of picking on Jerry Tipton. One sportswriter who follows UK told me this year that he thought I was unfair to Jerry, because I only “point out what he does negative and dont talk about his talent.” Fair enough, Jerry Tipton is a very talented writer and may know basketball as much, if not more, than any local media member. When I sit in press conferences, Jerry usually asks the most basketball-centric question to the Coach, and his insight on the game is usually dead on. So there you go, something nice.
But the reality is that when it comes to beat reporters that follow college teams, there simply isnt anyone more negative than Tipton. I know that is sort of obvious and like saying “no one in Lexington has a finer moustache than Alan Cutler,” but it really is true. I have no idea why a fine writer would decide that his angle should be to be negative about the hometown team, but that is what Tipton does and he does it on a regular basis.
Case in point, his Sunday Notes column this week, generally a treasure trove of interesting information, mixed in with curmudgeoness of the highest degree. Tipton decided to show the readers his answers to a poll done by the Nashville newspaper in preparation for the SEC Tournament. I give Jerry credit for openness, but his answers werent surprising.
When asked WHAT TEAM HAS THE BEST FANS?, Jerry answered with this:
Florida. Enthusiastic. Not as judgmental toward their own team as, ahem, another fan base that comes to mind
Seriously Jerry? FLORIDA? You mean the team that couldnt sell out home games in its 10,000 seat arena the year after coming off back to back titles? Florida has the best basketball fans? Even though most in America would agree that Kentucky has the best fans in the country, Jerry Tipton….the LOCAL BEAT WRITER FOR THE MAJOR PAPER IN LEXINGTON, believes that Florida has the best fans. And oh yeah, after he says that, he takes a shot at UK fans in general. Nice.
Then when asked BIGGEST HOMECOURT ADVANTAGE, he says Rupp Arena, but gives the rationale as:
Rupp Arena. Bigger the crowd, the more influence on the referees
So its not that UK fans are the most passionate and fill the place up on a game in, game out basis. No its the fact that UK fans make the referees give the Cats’ calls. Now I could make the argument that the biggest homecourt advantage actually isnt with the Cats as Vandy and Florida do well, in large part due to their unique setups. But Jerry goes with Kentucky, while saying that the reason its good is because it influences referees. Amazing.
The thing that baffles me about all of this is that I really dont understand what Tipton gains out of the negativity. Yes, the Herald Leader gets some clicks when people complain as in this forum, but wouldnt it be MUCH better to get daily clicks because people actually WANT to read what you are writing? In today’s internet-filled world, the game column is irrelevant (when was the last time you read a game column on the internet?) and the notion that you need the Herald or Courier to tell you what is going on with UK is laughable. The only folks who really rely on the Herald for UK news are old people who arent around computers and if not for the built-in “credibility” that comes with newspapers, who would bother going to the Herald site?
All of this was compounded last night when Jerry took his negativity national on Seth Davis’s show. When asked about where UK is going into the Tournament, Jerry’s answer was to talk about the fact that he saw Demarcus Cousins sitting on the bench rather than warming up with the Cats before the second half. Of all the tidbits or points about the team that could be raised, that was what Tipton focused on…an issue that he asked Calipari about after the game and the Coach said was nothing. And thus nationally, the story of an unhappy Boogie is perpetuated.
I asked Seth a couple of weeks ago why it was he had Jerry on for UK news and he said, “I believe in newspapers and I think that is where the best information from the team comes from.” While the first part is debateable (people once also believed in the dodo bird), the idea that newspapers are without bias is prevalent in the national media. And thus beat writers are looked to as the objective sources for material on the team. Unlike a columnist like John Clay or Eric Crawford (who are supposed to have opinions one way or the other), no slant should be in the writing of those “on the beat.” That is certainly why Seth and others look to Jerry…but as we all know who follow his coverage on a day-to-day basis, they are looking in the wrong direction.