It is time for the Kentucky fan base to come to a realization. No, I am not talking about the fact that Tony Delk needs to have his jersey retired or that Woo Obrzut is the greatest human to walk the face of the earth in last 400 years. Rather, it is time for us to accept that the negativity that has surrounded the Kentucky fan base is having concrete consequences for the program, especially on the recruiting trail.
I have thought for some time about making this post, but the events of the last week have made me decide that now is the time. Mason County superstar Darius Miller was offered by Kentucky last week and in an interview he said that he was waiting before accepting to see what the situation was with Tubby Smith. Thus we have an in-state kid who will be blowing up nationally very soon holding off on a verbal because of the negativity surrounding the Coach. And the problem is, this is not unique.
Over the course of the last two months, I have talked to 3-4 recruits, all of whom Kentucky has at one time been recruiting, all of whom have said that the Tubby debate is having an effect. One parent of a prominent recruit asked me if “the fans were going to run Tubby off?” And then she said, “if they are that hard on him, how are they going to be on my son?” In my talks with coaches, two of them commented that the negative fan base was turning away UK recruits and one recruiting analyst said, “the fan base is running these kids off. You dont think EVERY other coach in the country is using this against UK?”
It is beyond clear to me that the negativity associated with the fanbase, shown on message boards and talk radio, but also by a media that asks certain leading questions, is having a distinct effect. One reporter at Nike (and I am not kidding) from Kentucky asked Patrick Patterson, “does the fact that UK is doing so badly in recruiting recently have an effect on your decision?” Patterson got a distinct scowl on his face and, to his credit, said something to the effect that it was of no consequence. But kids hear this stuff and it is having an effect.
As any good lawyer would do, I do want to anticipate a likely criticism in advance. I can already see people saying, “See those Tubby lovers are blaming the fans for Tubby’s recruiting failures.” And that is distinctly NOT what I am saying. There have been mishaps in recruiting and I think even Coach Smith would say that mistakes have been made. But thats the PAST. And no amount of griping, complaining, yelling, moaning or taking out newspaper ads will change that. What matters now is the FUTURE. And for the FUTURE the griping and moaning is making the attempt at bettering recruiting going forward more and more difficult.
Many like to place the blame totally on folks like Richard Cheeks and the founder of Dynasty Defenders, Katman (whose real name is available there), as they are two of the more visible Tubby detractors. And believe me, I STRONGLY disagree with their methods, especially the “Professor” Cheeks. But I will say this about them…..at least they are man enough to use their ACTUAL NAME and to take responsibility for their actions. The worst of the anti-Tubby brigade are those that hide behind false names on message boards and blast away with no consequence. Their cowardice is costing recruits and whether they accept it or not, hurting the program.
If Tubby is the coach of Kentucky for ten more years, this 07 class, specifically the big guns like Patrick Patterson, are crucial for future success. But what the detractors need to realize is that EVEN IF TUBBY LEAVES, we must succeed on this 07 group. The proof is out there, over and over and over, that the negativity is hurting the program. Regardless of whether you want Tubby here or not, you must want Kentucky to win. If you do, then you must know that the next few months are crucial. When Patrick Patterson and Jai Lucas and JJ Hickson, etc are sitting around making their decisions, if Kentucky TRULY wants them here, then we should take away the “Tubby question” from their minds. That means ending the negativity ASAP.
Now back to your regularly scheduled programming…..