We all have spent the last week listening to the talking heads, trying to fill up air time before the Final Four, giving their opinions on whether Billy Donovan would want the Kentucky job. People who are paid to have strong opinions on the issue have come out on both sides. On one side are the Jay Mariottis, Michael Wilbons and Mark Bradleys, who believe that the UK job is not a great job and the pressure makes it something to scoff at. On the other are the Bob Ryans, Jay Bilas and Gregg Doyels who make the argument that the UK job is the best in the country and all coaches should and will consider it. These debates have grown a little stale for me as both sides seem to leave out the subtleties of the job for a black-white argument. Fact is that the Kentucky job has its positives and it has its negatives…..but in the end, I say the positives far outweigh those negatives.
But one guy, the ubiquitous Dick Vitale, seems dead set on making sure that all know that Billy Donovan shouldnt and wont, take the job. Now I have to admit that I am often a Vitale mark…..I think he has been great for the rise of college basketball, is truly passionate about the sport and should be in the Hall of Fame. And on a personal level, both at my time at Duke and around UK, I have seen Vitale the person act as gracious as a semi-celebrity can. He is great with kids, and takes a special interest in helping the mentally handicapped, a position I truly respect. But having said all of that, the Vitale of the last week has been infuriating.
The Vitale position was summed up today on College Gameday, when Vitale said, “the pressure of that job is overwhelming. The best day on the job is the day of the press conference and then it goes downhill.” He went on to say that Tubby had to deal with “For Sale” signs in his yard (I have never heard confirmation of this) and that the “fans” wanted to buy an ad asking him to be fired. However in making these comments, Dick is doing what he used to never do……he is taking the actions of the few and attributing them to the many. How many people tried to help with that ad…..a few dozen at the most? The vast majority of UK fans are passionate, without being overbearing, and that passion is what makes UK the best job in the country.
Vitale used to recognize that. How many times have we heard him at Rupp Arena yell about the best fans in the country? What he must understand is that with that passion comes pressure…..and every coach in America knows that. But as Jay Bilas said today, that is why the job is so amazing……it is the number one place in America for college basketball….and who wouldnt want to lead that. Billy D may or may not come….there are reasons to stay at Florida, reasons to come to Kentucky. But Vitale and Katz and Wilbon, etc who act as if it is a no-brainer to remain in Gainesville are simply fooling themselves….and Vitale in particular, should know better.