Merry Christmas Eve, friends. Santa is currently loading up his sleigh to deliver presents to millions of boys and girls around the world, which got me thinking: who’s been naughty and nice in the world of Kentucky sports this year? This morning, I made my list and checked it twice.
UofL President James Ramsey: Naughty
It’s been a rough year for UofL President James Ramsey, who not only has the FBI investigating two high-ranking university officials for misappropriating federal grant money, but also has a sex scandal enveloping his basketball program. What’s the best way to deal with all of that bad press? Host a Halloween party in which you ask attendees to don sombreros, ponchos, and fake mustaches, of course. What would typically be a gaffe most would be willing to overlook became yet another example of an insensitive and out of touch administration. That’s so Louisville.
Katina Powell: Nice
I know, I know. The woman admitted to being a prostitute and employed her own daughters. Not exactly a candidate for person of the year, right? But, she came forward with her story in search of justice…and yes, okay, money. Money and justice! Like John Calipari said last night, it’s not good to relish in anyone’s struggles, but Katina made it her mission to make sure the Louisville basketball program got their comeuppance this year, and that’s what I’d call a pretty nice gift.
Everyone Louisville player mentioned in Breaking Cardinal Rules: Naughty
Chane Behanan, Terrence Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Wayne Blackshear, and of course Andre McGee are a few of the former Louisville players mentioned in Katina Powell’s “Breaking Cardinal Rules.” This is a PG-13 blog, so I won’t mention how they were mentioned, but they definitely got up to some naughty stuff, all on UofL’s dime.
John Calipari: Nice
Calipari got his team within two wins of a perfect season, was inducted into the Hall of Fame, and sent seven players to the NBA. Not a bad year, right? Once again, Calipari proved his haters wrong and reminded us all never to doubt him, a lesson we should keep in mind as we head into a tough game vs. Louisville.
Rick Pitino: Naughty
Sure, Rick Pitino may not have known his assistant coach paid hookers to have sex with his players and recruits, but as the head coach of the program, he’s responsible for what happens under his watch. Plus, if I have to hear Rick get all torn up about how all of this happened in the dormitory named after his brother-in-law one more time (the same brother-in-law whose sister Rick admitted to cheating on), I’m going to puke. Thankfully, the Louisville media will be so busy lapping up Rick’s tears they can clean it up for me.
Willie Cauley-Stein: Nice
It’s hard to find a Kentucky basketball player that didn’t perform a charitable act in 2015, but Willie Cauley-Stein deserves a special shoutout. Willie befriended several young children in need this year, including 9-year-old Blake Hundley, 4-year-old Olivia, and 11-year-old Toby Foster. Blake lost his battle with cancer, but Willie paid tribute to his friend by having “Team Blake” tattooed on his neck. Willie’s a giant on the court, but off it, he proved he’s got an even bigger heart.
Sam Dekker: Naughty
I don’t know about you, but I’ve replayed the Wisconsin loss a million times over in my head. Several things contributed to “The Loss”; Kentucky’s inability to make a shot in the last four minutes comes to mind, but the Cats also didn’t have an answer for Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker, who buried a step-back three with 1:42 left to drive the dagger right through the BBN’s heart. It’s not wise to fall into the “what if” trap, but after staring at that picture for way too long, I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the Cats had Alex Poythress to defend Dekker that night.
Skal Labissiere: TOO Nice
If we’ve learned anything about Skal Labissiere this season, it’s that he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. While that’s a wonderful trait 99% of the time, it’s not always great when you’re playing basketball. Skal is an amazing kid that’s been through so much in his life and the last thing I want for him in 2016 is to wilt under pressure. Like Karl Towns before him, Skal just needs to learn to be mean during games.
Jerry Tipton: Naughty
Tipton is the BBN’s Ebenezer Scrooge and didn’t get much better this year, picking a fight with our own Ryan Lemond. Sure, Ryan’s “HELLO RUPP ARENA” is mockable, but only when we do it, right??
Mitch Barnhart: Nice
No matter what he does, Mitch will always have his critics, but he’s on my good list this year for all the work he put into opening the renovated Commonwealth Stadium. I don’t think Mitch slept the two weeks before the stadium opened, spending morning, noon, and night helping the crews finish up the renovations on what could be his legacy at UK. He even made sure his suite was the last one crews worked on. It was all worth it; by the first game, the stadium looked beautiful — albeit not 100% done — and Mitch looked like he needed to sleep for a month.
Mark Stoops: ?????
After another late season collapse, it’s hard to say whether Stoops has been naughty or nice this year. At times, it looked like we were just getting started, bro, but too many times, UK had the chance to turn the corner and didn’t. If you examine the issues that haunted his team — lack of discipline, disorganization — ultimately, they lay at his feet, and in the past few weeks, Stoops has shown he’s not afraid to make changes, firing offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson and wide receivers coach Tommy Mainord.
What say you, KSR comments section: has Stoops been naughty or nice this year?