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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Kentucky Play-by-Play Position as Prestigious as the Coach

From the time that Cawood Ledford took over play-by-play duties of Kentucky basketball in 1953, the Cats have only had 7 head coaches.  That in itself is an amazing stat, as well as the fact that 5 of those 7 guys won national titles as coach.  But since Cawood took over, the chair that he sat in is even more exclusive than the UK coaching fraternity.  Cawood to Ralph Hacker to Tom Leach, that’s it.  Three guys emcompass 60+ years of Kentucky basketball in the medium that many fans to this day experience the team the most, through the radio.  But just how “successful” have the pbp men been at Kentucky?  I thought it might be interesting to look at the accomplishments of the team during each man’s tenure:

CAWOOD LEDFORD (1953-1992, 39 seasons)
Total Record: 856-274 (75.8% win)
SEC Record: 493-159 (75.6% win)
SEC Regular Season Titles: 23
SEC Tournament Titles: 4 (Tournament not held between 1954 and 1978)
Final Fours: 5 (1958, 1966, 1975, 1978, 1984)
National Titles: 2 (1958 and 1978)
NCAA Tournament Record: 45-28 (keep in mind UK played consolation games many years, leading to 2 NCAA Tourney losses in a year)

RALPH HACKER (1992-2001, 9 seasons)
Total Record: 264-56 (82.5% win)
SEC Record: 117-27 (81.3% win)
SEC Regular Season Titles: 6
SEC Tournament Titles: 7
Final Fours: 4 (1993, 1996, 1997, 1998)
National Titles: 2 (1996 and 1998)
NCAA Tournament Record: 31-7

TOM LEACH (2001-2014, 13 seasons)
Total Record: 345-114 (75.2% win)
SEC Record: 155-57 (73.1% win)
SEC Regular Season Titles: 6
SEC Tournament Titles: 4
Final Fours: 3 (2011, 2012, 2014)
National Titles: 1 (2012)
NCAA Tournament Record: 29-10

Cmon Tom, only a 75.2% win percentage?  Gotta pick it up or that seat becomes hot.  Am I right?

Article written by Bryan the Intern

10 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Kentucky Play-by-Play Position as Prestigious as the Coach

  1. Danny Pearson
    9:07 am May 5, 2014 Permalink

    UK consolidated the coverage of games and created the UK Radio Network in late 1960’s. Cawood did do the games starting in 1953, but so did other stations. Claude Sullivan was going to be on network with Cawood but was stricken with cancer.

  2. J.R.
    9:10 am May 5, 2014 Permalink

    dont forget about Charlie Macalexander

  3. Colbert
    9:20 am May 5, 2014 Permalink

    Radio? Come on…

  4. ed
    9:43 am May 5, 2014 Permalink

    Claude Sullivan was the voice of the wildcats in the 50-60 era. He had the Lex stations and was as good as Cawood!!

  5. arlo
    9:52 am May 5, 2014 Permalink

    is ralph hacker still living?

  6. Danny
    9:56 am May 5, 2014 Permalink

    I see Ralph in Richmond all the time.

  7. Joe
    10:05 am May 5, 2014 Permalink

    BTI, you’ve got to do some homework, my friend. Prior to approximately 1970, there was no single voice of the Wildcats. Claude Sullivan called UK games from 1947-1967, when he died of cancer. Claude led the Standard Oil Network. Cawood went to WHAS in 1956, which is when he and Claude were in prime competition. It’s worth noting that beginning in 1958 when the Kentucky Association of Broadcasters began awarding a sportscaster of the year, Claude Sullivan won every year until 1967, when his voice was literally crumbling due to cancer. There is indeed speculation, including some from Cawood himself, that he would not have been the UK Network voice, but that Claude Sullivan would have, had he not died. In September, check out Voice of the Wildcats: Claude Sullivan and the Rise of Modern Sportscasting. You’ll be glad you did.

  8. Fake Tom Leach
    10:49 am May 5, 2014 Permalink

    BTI, you need to add Football Bowl Game records to these stats, I own them in that!

  9. But...
    11:26 am May 5, 2014 Permalink

    We’ve got to give Tom a break. He had the curse of Billy G. I’m sure his %age is on the rise.

  10. WestKyWildcatFan
    7:20 pm May 5, 2014 Permalink

    Claude Sullivan should be listed as one of the prestigious “voice of the Wildcats” as well…but, I guess you have to forgive KSR some times…they’re all actually fairly young and don’t really know UK’s complete history.

    I remember a few years ago, they ran a poll about who were the program’s top rivals. Most of us older residents of BBN were sure to place Indiana in that mix, remembering the rich history between the two schools, but the majority of KSR’s staff laughed at that result and didn’t care to acknowledge that IU was a true rival. That is, until IU beat us in 2012…then, the KSR staff all jumped onto the bandwagon and haven’t let up since.

    We should give them a little slack…what they lack in overall knowledge, they make up for in enthusiasm.

    If it wasn’t for the tape delays that we all see on TV broadcasts now, I’d still be watching the game with the sound turned off and listening to the Voice of the Wildcats, whichever fine gentleman would be doing it, at every game. Man, how I remember those times.