Maybe some of the older members of Big Blue Nation will remember this but the greatest coach in UK history nearly ran for office.
The University of Kentucky had a mandatory retirement age of 70. Some (including Adolph Rupp) thought an exception would be made for Rupp after he had been coaching since 1930. After Rupp’s 1972 season ended in the Elite Eight he questioned whether he could continue to coach despite UK’s rule.
Rupp tried to fight retirement and hoped the UK Board of Trustees would change the rule, but Rupp was unsuccessful. While in limbo and waiting to hear from UK, Rupp told the Courier-Journal that he was considering running for the 6th district congressional seat. That district spans Lexington, Richmond and Frankfort.
Rupp had zero experience running for office or holding office, but he was confident that if he ran not only could he win but he would do a good job.
“I know as much about Vietnam and these other things as those other fellows know,” Rupp told the Courier-Journal. “I was brought up on a farm. I worked on a farm until I was 23. I have owned a farm since 1941.”
I would have voted for Rupp with the campaign slogan “I know as much about things things as those other fellows.” Quite frankly it’s better than what we get today.
Incumbent William Curlin decided not to run and just a few days after mentioning a potential political career Rupp thought better of the idea thanks to advice from his family.
“After meeting with my family they all hoped I would not run for Congress, and urged me not to,” Rupp said. “I will abide by their wishes.”
Rupp’s plan was to run as a Democrat but after his family asked him not to run the seat was won by fellow Democrat John B. Breckinridge. Breckinridge would go on serving for six years. Rupp died just over five years later from spinal cancer on a night UK beat Kansas (Rupp’s alma mater) at Allen Fieldhouse.
Perhaps Rupp was just trying to show the UK Board that he had other options and didn’t have to coach. Or perhaps Rupp truly wanted to make a political run.
Would you have voted for Rupp? Do you think Cal has any political aspirations after coaching?
Just a few days later, Rupp had decided. He would not run. John Breckinridge, a former KY Attorney General, won the 6th District that fall. The appointed incumbent, William Curlin, had decided not to run.
— KYPoliticalHistory (@HistoryKentucky) May 29, 2018