As we heads toward mid-week, five quick thoughts:
— This could be the most important week of the year for basketball recruiting. The impressions made on these round of in-home visits tend to be reinforced throughout the year, which is why you see all the coaches pulling out all the stops. Calipari has been everywhere and back again and his track across America reinforces who he wants in the Class of 2013. The Harrison Twins, Julius Randle, Andrew Wiggins (if he reclassifies), Aaron Gordon and James Young all received visits and from those six, Calipari would love a class of five. The Twins say they will not visit UK’s campus again, Randle is coming for the NBA Alumni Game, while the Cats hope to get Wiggins/Young/Gordon in this fall. The vibes from this week could well determine whether the Cats are destined to get #9 (or #10) in 2014.
— Today Rick Minter spoke to the media and denied a verbal confrontation with Joker Phillips at the Louisville game and in the following week. I understand his reason to do that and it doesn’t bother me that he would not verify our report. Football is a team game, disagreements happen and if the coaches don’t want to speak about it publicly, I get it. That however doesn’t mean it didn’t happen or that there has not been tension between the two men over defensive philosophy. Both are true. Things are apparently better now and all hope to see even better performance this week versus Western.
— Quick thought…five years ago, three programs would have been seen as the model for college sports: Penn State football, UNC basketball and Duke basketball. We know what happened at Penn State and now there are continued scents of issues in the Triangle as well. While the Duke story will be difficult to prove, especially since the Lance Thomas jewelry owner is under no obligation to talk to the NCAA, it is clear that questions over how $100,000 worth of jewelry ended up in Thomas’s hand will continue. And the UNC scandal, including the newest revelations about Tyler Hansbrough’s mom showcases that the Tar Heel program has a culture of winning at cost just as heavily as any other place in America. What happens to these schools individually is beside the point. All of these scandals showcase that as much as national reporters would love to have “Good guy/bad guy” schools (with Kentucky often being a bad guy), in the end that narrative is almost never correct.
— We have joked a lot about Billy Gillispie on here. And tonight there is more news that he is checking himself into the Mayo Clinic with high blood pressure and stress. Some say that we should pity Gillipsie and not joke about his condition. For the vast majority of people, I would agree. But for Billy, mocking those in unfortunate situations was par for the course. He loved nothing more than to degrade and then mock those for whom he was in charge. I don’t wish ill will on him and I hope he gets help. But I also don’t feel sorry about making jokes at his expense. He did it to others and unlike when he was the one dishing, he won’t feel the physical and mental effects of our playful jabs.
— The Calipari Fantasy Experience starts Thursday and I am ready to tear my ACL with all the other campers. Today they released the Assistant Coaches for the six teams. Which would you prefer to play for?
Finally, today is of course 9/11 and like most of you, I have spent time today reflecting on those terrible moments 11 years ago. For me, the most poignant times after the tragedy were the ways in which we came together and tried to deal with the events. In that regard, nothing was more moving to me than this Paul Simon performance of “The Boxer” on Saturday Night Live. It marked the return to the show and included Mayor Giuliani and the NYC Firefighters. It still gets me every time and I try to watch it every year.