Leading up to Olivier Sarr’s highly-anticipated commitment, Wake Forest head coach Steve Forbes made headlines by throwing a jab at the University of Kentucky – seen as Wake’s top competitor to land the star center – when comparing the schools academically.
In an attempt to recruit Sarr back to Winston-Salem, Forbes asked the 7-foot center why he would spend three years at a prestigious academic institution like Wake Forest, only to transfer and get his degree “at a place like Kentucky.”
“I think the most important thing is, why would you go to Wake for three years, put all that time in for a prestigious degree, and end up getting your degree at a place like Kentucky?” Forbes said of his conversation with Sarr on The Drive with Josh Graham today. “That got a chuckle out of him. That’s no disrespect to Kentucky, I obviously respect them, but you know what I mean. I just think there’s a lot to be said for putting all that work in academically and not being able to finish what you started. I know those things are all important to him, and he’s said that.”
Almost instantly, Forbes’ comments spread to the Kentucky fanbase, and not long after, nationally. In fact, ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption used the jab as the opening topic on the show May 6.
This week, Forbes joined both The Adam Gold Show and The OG to clarify his comments, adding that he meant no disrespect to the University of Kentucky.
“Olivier told me that one of the reasons that he was really considering coming back was because he really wanted to get a Wake degree,” Forbes said, via WRALSportsFan columnist Lauren Brownlow. “I said to him, ‘Hey look, why would you put three years of work in academically at Wake and then go get your degree at a place-‘ and I said Kentucky, but I could have said any school. I didn’t mean that in any way as a putdown to Kentucky at all. “I was just saying, ‘Listen, we’ve got this great education.’ Kentucky and all the other schools in the country are always going to recruit to their positives, and that’s what I was doing. I was pointing out a positive in our direction.”
After making the comments, Forbes said he was under a “complete frontal assault” from Kentucky fans on social media.
“I didn’t realize – maybe I’m living like the boy in the bubble back in the 70s. Then Thursday night that week, I got a call from Nick Nurse, who’s my really good friend, and he said, ‘Man, you’re the lead story on PTI!’ I said. ‘No way! Come on.’ Then I looked at my Twitter and Lord have mercy, I was under a complete frontal assault from the Big Blue Nation,” Forbes continued. “They were going at me. They were in predator mode. They were coming me. So I learned how to block a bunch of people, which I’ve never done before.”
Do you believe Forbes’ clarification?