This was a picture of a classroom at UK today after the announcement
The biggest news of the day is for our own team. Marquis Teague is a Cat and the prospects of an unbelievable 2011 class that might not soon be topped now exist. Teague joins fellow phenom Michael Gilchrist on his way to Lexington and the likely finish of the class could end up being the best in history. During his press conference, Teague said that he wanted to get Quincy Miller, Michael Chandler and Tony Wroten to come as well and make up a class that could be a “dynasty.” He mentioned that the reason he ultimately picked Kentucky is that Calipari can develop guards like no other and he knows that Cal can put him in the league. It is a great day for Kentucky and another blue chipper is headed to be part of the Big Blue Nation.
But the real story of the Teague commitment is the stone cold kick to the gut for Louisville and Rick Pitino. Make no mistake, this is one of, if not THE, worst recruiting losses in history for UL. Rick Pitino spent TWO YEARS recruiting Teague and building a relationship with the young man that was as tight as you see in recruiting circles. He became friends with his father and hired one of Teague’s coaches onto his staff (a position that would seem to not be so safe anymore). He did everything but move in with Marquis and one recruiting analyst suspected Pitino had seen Teague play 15 times in person. In reality, he did all that a person could humanly do to win a recruit over…and he still ended up picking the Blue and White. Teague said that he almost committed to UL twice, but then waited…and that “almost” will do nothing for UL when Teague ultimately takes the floor.
The great Louisville blog Card Chronicle, has this post today, in which it suggests that for all the likely complaining about Pitino, the real question is what else is he supposed to do? He couldnt have recruited harder and he probably could not have offered more. But at this point, Kentucky is where kids want to go, and Louisville is little brother. That phrase has been overused by UK fans in the past and UL’s tradition is one of the best in college basketball. But the Teague commitment showcases that at this point, UK is primetime and UL is not. Calipari can offer a PG the ability to be drafted high in the NBA, become a star in college with Drake, Lebron and others watching your games and be part of a talent pool like no other. Pitino can offer a great program, playing a particularized offense that takes a year or so to learn and no Point Guard in his history drafted to the league. Which program would you pick?
The question that will be asked by Louisville fans today is if we cant get Teague, can we get anyone Calipari really wants? And the answer is probably no. At this point, when it comes to recruiting, UK will get who it wants and if Louisville wants the same player…well tough. Now that doesnt mean Louisville cant succeed. Success over time is measured in titles and championships, not in recruiting awards. I still think Kentucky can, and will, win on a huge level with their one and done talent, but Louisville can also succeed with a different formula. Butler, Michigan State and Duke showed this year that you can win doing it a different way and Louisville should embrace that view. Four year guys can win if you can mix in a star or two and Pitino has shown with guys like Samardo Samuels that he can get top-notch talent.
But what has to be accepted by Louisville fans today is that Louisville cant win the way Kentucky wins. UK is the rock star program now (along with UNC, Duke and to a lesser extent, Kansas) and can get the player it wants when it wants him. Louisville is in the great mass below, who can win but has to do it a different way. Kentucky is a rock star and Louisville is a touring band. Both can have hits and both have huge followings. But only one will be picked to play the Super Bowl Halftime and only one will make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Kentucky with Calipari is simply a more appealing program than Louisville with Rick Pitino. Cards’ fans wont like it, but after today, they have no choice but to accept it.