Yesterday, Ralph Hacker ruffled some feathers on the Terry Meiners Show when he said he believes John Calipari is “shortchanging” Kentucky fans with his one-and-done approach. This morning, the former Voice of the Wildcats called into Kentucky Sports Radio to clarify those comments.
The subject originally came up when Meiners mentioned Kyle Macy’s recent comments about Calipari being too focused on the NBA. Hacker took up for his former broadcast partner, telling Meiners he doesn’t feel the program has the fans in mind anymore, comparing it to radio hosts booking a superstar slate of guests for ratings week and only average guests the rest of the time.
“Perhaps it was a bad analogy,” Hacker said on KSR this morning. “What I was saying was to this point: when you recruit one-and-dones — and maybe that’s the way it’s all gone now, is that you have to recruit those, and again, John knows more about this than I do — is that if you recruit just for just for this one season rather than look for three years, two years, four years down the road, where you’re trying to stack up national championships for the benefit of the university and the benefit of your fans, it’s like you working just for one ratings week and saying, ‘I’m going to put everything I’ve got here just for this week. Everything I’ve got is going into this week and the rest of the time I’m going to coast and see what happens.'”
When Matt asked if he was implying that Calipari is coasting, Hacker once again said he probably misspoke and is just used to the way things used to be.
“Just because he does that doesn’t make it wrong. He’s probably right. I’m just saying from Joe Blow fan who’s used to, over the years — see, I’m a lot older than you. I’m a lot older than Cal. I’m used to being able to go to University of Kentucky games and see great teams come in there and you see Kentucky play them and beat them most of the time, used to being able to know the players and take pride in those particular players — and I do take pride for the year that they’re there. I just forgot who they are after they’re not there.”
In fact, Hacker said most of his frustrations stem from the non-conference home schedule, which has gotten weaker as the program adds more neutral site games.
“Everybody has their own way of doing it. The way that John does it is fine. That’s the way John wants to do it. That’s the way the university wants to do it and John’s made a commitment to do that. What I was attempting to say was, I believe as far as a fan goes — I’m thinking as a Ralph B. Hacker as a fan, a guy who writes the checks every year and buys the basketball tickets that I’ve had since the day Rupp Arena opened — is that I feel that I’m getting shortchanged. I’m thinking as a fan that I want to see more quality teams come in there. I don’t want to — while I love Eastern Kentucky University, while I love Transylvania — I don’t want that to be the highlight of my November and December schedule.”
Hacker said he’d prefer some of the neutral site games that take place in New York or Las Vegas move closer to Lexington so fans can be within driving distance.
“My point is that we play a tough schedule. There’s no question about that. My argument is, we play that schedule is with most of the games being away from home where it costs Joe Blow fan another $2,000 to go to New York City and play. Or to go to Las Vegas and play. Or to go to Chicago and play. Some of those games, if they could be worked out, need to be played where Kentucky fans can get to those games and enjoy that as part of their regular season schedule.”
Listen to Hacker’s interview below. He comes on halfway through Hour 1: