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Number Eight’s Wednesday News & Views

Photo by James Crisp

What a day.

I’ve watched Kentucky play basketball my entire life, but watching that banner unfurl in Rupp Arena is a memory for the ages. Although the title had been Kentucky’s for over twelve hours, I don’t think the weight of the National Championship really hit me until the team bus arrived in Rupp Arena. Rupp was full of fans who were unable to watch the Cats win in New Orleans, and were so anxious to see their team that they began camping out during halftime of the game Monday night for free tickets to the victory celebration. Rupp has been home to some very loud and special moments, but I’m not sure if any roar will compare to the one that greeted the team bus as it rolled onto the arena floor. It was a party fourteen years in the making, and fans young and old packed the 24,000 seat arena, the airport, and the streets of Lexington to celebrate.

Running on little to no sleep, the team came off the bus to individual introductions, looking energized on little sleep, feeding off the energy of the fans that love them so. Cal leapt off the bus and prowled the floor like a prize fighter, fist pumping the crowd and looking more put together than he has all season. At the podium, he recalled his first speech as Kentucky’s coach, back in 2009 at Midnight Madness, and how he wanted to restore Kentucky as the gold standard in college basketball, a program that would win championships and raise banners. Less than three years later, Cal turned to the crowd and uttered four beautiful words: “Let’s raise one today.” The Big Blue Nation watched as banner number eight slowly unfurled, each new inch bringing hope to a fan base that feeds on it like none other. It was an unforgettable moment, one in which fourteen years of wishing, hoping, thinking and praying were released into the rafters. Finally, we were at peace.

The man who showed the most emotion may surprise you: Mitch Barnhart. In his tenth year on the job, Barnhart has things looking up in the Athletic Department: the basketball team just brought home the National Championship, the baseball team is ranked number one in the country, the men’s tennis team is in the top ten, and the cheerleaders continue to do their thing, bringing home title after title. Aside from an anemic football team, you could say Barnhart’s doing a mighty fine job. Yet, despite all of his success, it took a simple bus ride to reduce him to tears. Maybe it was because they were finally home, or maybe it was because President Obama called on their way from the plane to the arena to congratulate them on their accomplishments, but Barhart said the enormity of it all hit him on the team’s victory lap around Lexington. Barnhart stood in front of the crowd of 20,000 people in Rupp to introduce the man he hired to erase the memory of Billy Gillispie and get the program back on track. Much to the chagrin of the Kleenex boxes in the Bluegrass, Barnhart became overwhelmed by the moment, and had to pause to collect himself after describing this team’s journey, which he said is the reason he came to Kentucky. After thanking his family, Barnhart looked at Calipari and said “The program was made for this man.”

It’s a bold statement that rings true now more than ever in the Bluegrass. Cal took a beaten and battered state and rebuilt it, recruit by recruit, line by line, win after win. It took three years, but Kentucky is back in its rightful position on the throne of college basketball. That was not lost on these players, who despite all the glory they’ve seen this season, looked stunned by their reception at Rupp Arena. One player who knows all too well is Darius Miller, whom Cal asked to address the crowd briefly. Miller, who looked emotional when his coach lauded him, the selfless “3-year starter who accepted in his senior year to come off the bench,” pulled it together at the podium, thanking the fans on behalf of the team for a great season and for four great years as a Wildcat. He received numerous ovations from a sniffling, teary crowd that was bursting with pride for one of their own.

It was great to see the players embrace each other and the moment, letting it wash over them in waves of Big Blue chants. To all the haters who preach that “one-and-done’s” don’t attach to their schools: not this squad. It was bittersweet to see Anthony Davis, quite possibly the most celebrated player in Kentucky basketball history, drink it all in one last time. There will be others, but for one last afternoon in Rupp, it was all about the banner.

Although many of them have only been on campus for nine months, this team has formed an unbreakable bond with the fans. During a radio interview this week, I was asked if this team, because of their youth and short time on campus, was as close to the fans as past championship teams. My answer? “Absolutely.” Just because they’ve only been Wildcats for one year doesn’t make them less special. In this day of social media mania, you could almost argue we know these kids better that their predecessors. Whereas most of the “insider” stories about previous squads passed by word of mouth, we’ve gotten to know this team through Twitter, millions of articles, and countless photographs. What many seem to forget is that nine months ago, they were mostly strangers to each other, too. It’s a testament to Cal’s talent that they became a solid unit, with the chemistry, poise, and focus of a veteran squad. I’d love to have each and every player return, but that’s not reality, and we can only be grateful for the time we’ve had with them.

As the 2012 National Champions surveyed the scene at Rupp Arena Tuesday afternoon, you have to think they were thinking the same thing.

The party rolls on Wednesday, as Matt and the crew return to the studio, starting at 10 a.m. Don’t miss it.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

73 Comments for Number Eight’s Wednesday News & Views

  1. Ernie Brown Jr.
    11:06 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    Live Action!

  2. macsauce13
    11:11 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    Really great article Tyler. Thanks!

  3. Burnsj
    11:39 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    Agreed. Very nice post. I wonder what Stacey Poole’s father thinks now? Regret??

  4. Clonch4uk
    11:40 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    Is it just me or does anyone else not want the season
    To be over. I’m really gonna miss this team
    I can stop watching or reading anything I can get my hands on

    Awesome job entire team. Will be loved and missed

  5. Paratrooper
    11:53 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    Great job, Tyler, as always. Just wish you could leave out the reference to Obammie the COMMIE. I have no doubt that the majority of BBN hates his stinking guts, as I do. But not even he can dampen my spirit on this wonderful and special occaison. #4 got it spot on. Just wish this season could go on forever.

  6. BUcats
    11:57 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    Wow look at that – Ms TT had a radio interview! Way to go!

  7. Rixter
    12:02 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    If you think it feels like a long time since we last won the championship (it was 14 years, 3 days…or 5117 days)…..then consider this:

    For fans of the red team up the road, it’s been an astounding 9,500 days. That’s 26 years, 3 days. OUCH.

  8. Rixter
    12:04 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Oh, and Paratrooper? Don’t pretend to speak for me on any issues.

  9. go cats!!!
    12:04 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    can someone post me a link to see the entire video of todays celebration at rupp. i missed like the first 10 minutes and wanted to see cal and the boys gettin off the bus. Yeahhhhh……thatd be gr8

  10. Richard
    12:08 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    I wonder if the NCAA will award us the title after UofK gets this season vacated.

  11. Peter Puffing billygoat
    12:10 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    8? Would u honestly vote for Obama? Im all about res

  12. Peter Puffing billygoat
    12:11 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Pecting the president and I’m glad he called the team thats really neat. But he sure doesn’t deserve another 4 years… And I’m a lifelong democrat. Anyways congrats BBN on number 8!!! We all deserve that!

  13. soggyUKgrad
    12:18 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    wow!! Richie, it sure didn’t take long for the trolls to come
    back!!…how’d you enjoy that ass-whooping Saturday?? your jealousy and pettiness make me happy. very happy. have fun knowing that UK basketball will always be superior to the filthy cards.

  14. mike
    12:26 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Really you bring up Obama on a day and a post like this! get a life. Thanks CATS for a great season.

  15. Chase
    12:42 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    This was a very well written article. Thanks!

  16. kentuckyjeff
    12:43 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Thanks Cats for such an awesome season ! This one goes down one for the ages. Calipari will win more titles but there’s only one first championship and what a group ! I’m so glad Darius Miller was apart of this and a special thanks to Doron and Terrance for sticking around. I promise you when there playing in the NBA next year they will all say forever that this was there finest moment.

  17. Linda Taylor
    12:48 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Sitting underneath the 2012 banner as it was unfurled this afternoon was an awesome experience. Being able to express our gratitude to Coach Cal and our team and to welcome them home as conquerors was sweet. Please if you want to make political statements, especially about our duly elected president, whose office deserves a certain level of respect no matter what your personal feelings towards the individual occupying that office are, make those statements on a political blog, not a sports blog. Don’t assume your political views are as widespread as you seem to think they are and you are just asking for trouble with your narrow extremist views and a sports blog is not the proper place to express them.

  18. 2012 national champs!!!
    12:50 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    GO BIG BLUE!!! Love this team wish it would never end!!

  19. Buckets
    12:54 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Great post. Wish I was at the celebration but I had to leave town and get back to normal, boring stuff like work and paying bills. But it was a great long weekend to be back home to watch the games and celebrate with friends and family, and thousands of total strangers on the streets of campus.

    Anyone know of a link to a TV broadcast replay?

  20. UKBlue
    1:10 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    No matter what anyone says about Cal, Cal is old school with a new school twist & he is apparently a man of his word; we may not understand the meaning/meanings behind his words at the time, but he is a man of his word. Cal said he came here because he would & could recruit the best of the best, done. Cal said he would take us back to our rightful place a top the mountain top, done. Cal said being able to send 5 players to the NBA at the end of his first year was the best thing to happen to UK; a lot of people thought he was nuts, disagreed, and thought one & done could never work; those people failed to see the bigger picture. Being able to send kids to the NBA is the best recruiting tool & the biggest ace Cal has in his pocket. Apparently it’s an Italian thing, La Family; unlike Pitino, Cal truly believes the traditions of Italians: honor, loyalty, family, and not just when it’s convenient. Something else unlike Pitino, Cal says what he means & means what he says even if you don’t agree or want to hear it. Cal haters may not like Cal, but they better respect him or they do it at their own peril.

  21. Ridge Runner
    1:19 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Great closing article to what turned out to be an emotional end of our day and journey to 8. Ms T.

  22. Paratrooper
    1:28 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    I couldnt agree more with my detractors who insist that politics doesnt belong on a sports blog. Precisely !! Now tell that to the purveyors of this website who never miss a chance to mention Obama, Ben Chandler, James Carville, ad nauseum. In so doing, they open the door and I am more than happy to walk in…swinging. I love giving the liberal scum a taste of their own HATEFUL medicine, because they simply can’t take it. You want to read something REALLY objectionable ? Take a look at Matt Jones’, favorite website, The Huffington Post, Daily Kos or As VILE as it gets and I look like a BOY SCOUT compared to these sickos. But as long as the managers of this site engage in political discourse, then so will I. If they stop, then I’ll stop. And I heartily encourage others who are tired of liberal, so called “progressives” treating free speech as their private toy to speak out as I have. WE ARE LEGION.

  23. Bluebanana
    1:36 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Nice work Tyler!
    Next year number 9!!!!!
    April 11, we will know!!!!!!

  24. BPsycho
    1:46 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Very nice post, without dis ” and looking more put together than he has all season “.

  25. [email protected]
    1:55 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    I hate to be the debbie downer of the site with this but it is something that I have feared ever since we won the title. I am SHOCKED that no one on KSR has brought this up and said something to comfort us about it… That being said I know the old line “Cal is going to be rumored for every job… it comes with the territory blah blah blah” but this is the ONE JOB that scares the crap out of me. Cal to the Knicks… those words make me cringe. It can’t be ignored anymore though now that he has achieved what he set out to do. A banner now hangs from Rupp and we all know Cal likes new challenges. If Cal were to leave UK for any job it would be this one and believe me…if they don’t get Phil Jackson, they will come calling Cal with a blank check. SOMEONE HERE AT KSR!!! PLEASE give us some insight as to what Cal might be thinking. We would be screwed if he left and anyone who thinks otherwise is clueless.

  26. Bluebanana
    2:29 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    21) nice work
    26) Cal is not as deranged as Pitino. I hope! But even if he is
    bipolar like Pitino, surely he can see such an obvious blunder
    at close proximity and not repeat it by stepping on his own

  27. curly turd
    2:36 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Great job Tyler–u painted a great picture for those who missed the celebration.

  28. Rondo Rules
    3:41 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    I completely agree with Paratrooper. The brainwashed Obamabot Sheeple don’t think you have a right to speak unless you agree with their Saul Alinsky playbook agenda.

  29. CrimsonWildcat
    5:00 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    I agree with you paratrooper. Matt jones spills that liberal garbage all over his site which is perfectly fine he has every right to do so but when he does I’m. It going to sit by as a conservative and be looked down upon from his elitist perch simply because I’m a conservative and disagree. How he still defends Obama despite the state of the economy and looks at conservatives like we are clueless is beyond me. Of course if you disagree liberals talks at you or demonize you as if you are inferior because you don’t agree with their opinion. Sorry we inconvenience you progressives with our common sense and logical thinking and disapproval of spending trillions of dollars we don’t have to “boost” a crippled economy (that they took a bat to).

  30. CrimsonWildcat
    5:01 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Sorry for the typos…iPhone autocorrect sucks sometimes.

  31. i.b.poe
    5:14 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Paratrooper, don’t confuse Obama with us true communists. Its insulting

  32. Bubba Earl
    5:31 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Great article, congrats to the team on a memorable season and of course, The National Championship, they will be missed!

  33. NotTheSlickistRick
    6:00 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Poor Paratrooper still stuck in the rice paddies during the down time between burning villages, killing babies and shooting brown heroin.

  34. bigblue
    6:14 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    God bless Coach Cal he was sent from above. He is the greatest coach in all time history of basketball. No coach ever has had the president of the united states address them right after the game. thats the respect that the kentucky effect has as the great coach says we are the needle the president calls us BBN.

    I had tears pouring from my eyes as I witnessed many men woman children young old too include media crying when that plane touched down. Who ever came up with water cannon salute should be given a medal that was tear jerking.

    And last but not least watching 25,000 screaming fans in Rupp witnessing history crying was breathtaking I can’t take any more thanks Coach Cal for the memories we love you god blee you. BB

  35. murf
    6:39 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Best article ever written on here Tyler. Thanks for the recreation; really felt like I experienced it for myself.

  36. CatGrad7072
    6:44 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    For an encore, maybe Mitch could hire football coach ?

  37. SeoulCat
    7:05 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Great write-up, Tyler!

  38. Macho man
    7:12 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    FYi, Barnhart only teared up when he was mentioning his wife and kids. Not when he was introducing Calipari. Though it was a cool moment, your facts aren’t exactly accurate.

  39. nassau65
    7:18 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    TT-Great post!

    Paratrooper-Blah,Blah,Blah. Until you start paying to read this site, you don’t have a say in it. Last time i checked, it’s still free and you are still free to leave. I doubt your absence would even be noticed.

  40. Paratrooper
    7:25 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    I just might the dumbest human being on the planet. I’m not actually a UK fan, I’m a dangerous extremist who will more than likely go on a shooting rampage any day now. Look for me in the news! Anger and ignorance is what keeps me going!

  41. Bob
    7:32 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    TT – you knocked it out of the park again. Great post!

  42. The Tain't
    7:41 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    21. For God sake, get a life.

  43. The Tain't
    7:42 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Sorry, #21. Nevermind.

    #23. For God sake, get a life

  44. NKY CAT
    7:42 am April 4, 2012 Permalink


  45. Bob
    7:43 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Liked this quote, “The Wildcats tossed the refrigerator weight of expectations into their backpacks and still crushed everyone like snow cone ice.”

  46. silvereagle6
    7:45 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Well said #18

  47. SeekTherapy
    7:46 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Hey Paratrooper. Before you kill your family and open fire on a school, get help. Now. People like you are an embarrassment to this country. Moderators, ban this guy. Seriously. Cuckoo!

  48. brew
    7:47 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    where in the heck is matt jones in all of this? been 2 says and no words from the guy who runs the site?

  49. Some Guy in Kentucky
    8:02 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    I hope that Coach Cal has Joe B. take him fishing in the offseason to recharge for #9.

  50. Mr. Obvious
    8:05 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Does anybody know where you can watch yesterday’s festivities in full?

  51. barn
    8:11 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    34–you sound like one of the shitbirds who would burn a defenseless couch or destroy some honest working citizen’s automobile. i hope the military draft never comes back, but if it does, i pray you will still be draft age.

  52. Orl Cat Fan
    8:19 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Great article Tyler

  53. barns
    8:20 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    i’m an uninformed shitbird.

  54. Doubting Thomas
    8:22 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Great article Ms. T. I’m proud our President took time to call our Cats and congratulate thme on a wonderful season and their 8th NCAA Championship. I think the same people downing the President for calling would down him if he didn’t call. They’re just trying to play a political game when the focus should be on our team, The Kentucky Wildcats!! Go Cats. Thank you team for a wonderful season and many great memories. Thank you Coach, you’ve done exactly what you said you would. Thank you all.

  55. Pitino's Pant Leg
    8:23 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Well-written and well-stated, TT. Good stuff.

  56. UL2UK8
    8:30 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    #51 Maybe if UK fans contact the Lexington and Louisville stations that showed it they will replay it, maybe late at night so people can record it. It was on TV for 2 hours.

  57. Real Cats Fan
    8:30 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    C’mon people, this is a SPORTS BLOG! Besides, anyone who falls in behind either party is being duped. Do you honestly think that politicians from EITHER party give a rat’s ass about the average American? Until we get a viable third party in office with not ties to big corporations, nothing is going to change. They are going to just continue to point fingers at each other while they laugh all the way to the bank! Do you honestly think anything is really going to change if the repubs get back in the white house? Then i have some prime swampland just outside of NOLA that I will sell you.

  58. The Realist
    8:43 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    #18 Pot calling the kettle

  59. BPM
    8:54 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Someone check on Old_School, Pete Thamel, Thayer Evans and Mike Bianchi and all the other haters – I am assuming they have all either hung themselves or are siting in a running car in a closed garage at this point.

  60. MtnCat
    8:55 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    #34, perfect liberal vile.

  61. Just saying
    9:17 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    @23, I don’t think Ms.TT was giving an endorsement to President Obama. She simply stated that he had called to congratulate the team, which should be considered an honor. No matter who the president is at the time. The only political conjecture here are the statements you’ve made. And dont EVER assume that any of us are in line with your way of thinking. It makes you an asshole. That said, this is a Kentucky sports blog. Let’s just enjoy number 8. Go Big Blue!

  62. UK22
    9:17 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Forgot to DVR game. Anyone know where I can get a replay by chance of the game????

  63. Uh...What?!
    9:24 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Paratrooper and CrimsonCat: Although I’m a democrat AND a liberal (for the most part)–and this may not mean beans to either of you–I understand your position. It seems to me that this world has turned into a “your-opinion-is-right-as-long-as-it’s-the-same-as-mine”. We ALL have a right to our opinions and don’t let anyone ever tell you different. I may not agree with you, but I’ll support your right to voice whatever opinion you may have!

  64. Al's IndiCats
    9:40 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    34, I was one of those stuck in the rice paddies, didn’t kill any babies nor shoot the heroine. I honestly take offense to that for if it hadn’t been for “The ones stuck in those Paddies” Your draft dodging pasney ass wouldn’t be writing shit like that. It was “WE” who done away with the draft, for we knew what it was like to be separated from family and friends and not knowing if that next breath you were going to take would be your last. You can pick on a lot of other things, but I know THIS you wouldn’t be a man enough to carry the boots of my brothers and sisters who’ll never made it home.

    Miss Thompson, again you have the knack to bring tears to the eyes to the young and old alike. GREAT article!

  65. NotSatire
    9:42 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Nice piece of writing.

  66. Raazoul
    9:47 am April 4, 2012 Permalink


  67. Kreyendick
    11:22 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Hate to be a d*ck but “enormity” means something bad on the order of the Holocaust or murdering little kids, not winning a national championship.

  68. Tuscaloosacat
    12:10 pm April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Thanks MS TT. Great job!

  69. macho man
    12:46 pm April 4, 2012 Permalink

    68. Since you are a grammar specialist, you would also know the neutral version of enormity means “large size or scale of something.”

  70. Professor_Nash
    1:26 pm April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Great article one of the best in a long time! GO CATS!

  71. NotTheSlickistRick
    3:33 pm April 4, 2012 Permalink

    65 Al, I never said you did. I said that Paratrooper was the kind of moron that did this with his bluster,& BS. I didn’t dodge the draft (unlike that conservative VP DIck) & was in the second draft lottery.

  72. bardstown bluebleeder
    7:01 pm April 6, 2012 Permalink

    Love the CATS AND MY PRESIDENT. Thank you Mr Obama for paying your respect to the team we all love.