From 'House Divided'

Kentucky fans are feeling blue while seeing red these days

Well, this is awkward. Kentucky’s on and off love affair with Coach Calipari appears to be “off” at the moment, what with the Wildcats’ dismal start; problem is, Coach Cal has a lifetime contract to coach the Cats…awkward…awkward, indeed. 

Coach Cal’s reluctance to give home-grown talent Dontaie Allen more playing time, especially when the Cats are struggling for more offense, which is Allen’s specialty, appears to be the root of the latest spat. Everybody seems to be addressing it, from ESPN, to Facebook chatter, to local hometown newspapers, such as the one you’re reading. No one, it seems, is comprehending Coach Cal’s explanation for Allen’s minutes or lack thereof. 

BBN was particularly upset with Cal’s response regarding the suggested reduction in minutes for five-star recruits in the likes of B.J. Boston, who might become disheartened if such were to occur. His response would suggest more stars by one’s name equates to greater possibilities of becoming disheartened. It also suggests Coach Cal’s number one priority isn’t necessarily winning games; which of course, is what he’s paid to do.

The most recent spat, the result of losing, coupled with Allen’s lack of playing time, is most likely not the only issue facing the program. Kentucky, respectfully dubbed “Big Blue”, ironically is located in one of the reddest of states politically. The program’s support of BLM over the summer, as well as the recent kneeling during the National Anthem at Florida, has left a sour taste in the mouth of BBN, which political makeup apparently is more red than blue.

I’m hearing it from many who I figured were diehard fans, comments such as, “I’m through with the Cats; never gonna’ watch them again.” I suppose the division our country is facing goes deeper than one might’ve thought, deep enough to separate a once dyed-in-the-wool true-blue fan from his or her beloved Wildcats.

But I figure losing has more to do with BBN’s anger than anything else. Politically speaking, the states of Kentucky and Alabama are equally red, both going for Donald Trump by an overwhelming 26 points in the recent presidential election, but take a look at Alabama football. Coach Nick Saban led a BLM march over the summer in Tuscaloosa. The mayor of Carbon Hill, ALA resigned in protest, but the Tide’s recent national championship, (the program’s 18th, Saban’s 7th, six of which earned at Alabama) has had a way of calming the waters. I wonder if BBN would feel differently about Coach Cal and the Cats if they were on track to win Kentucky’s ninth national championship?  Well, Kentucky’s not on track to win another national championship. It’s not on track to win the conference. It’s not even on track to have a winning season. 

What’s the difference in Alabama football and Kentucky basketball, other than one plays with an oblong ball, while the other is round? Saban has created a “win-national-championship” mentality at Alabama (six championships in 14 years), while Calipari has utilized a “get-my-players-to-the-pros” system at Kentucky (one championship in 12 years). 

Yet, despite Saban’s championship goal, it hasn’t negated his players’ ultimate goal of playing professionally. Alabama starters get drafted at a much higher rate into the NFL than any other school. 

And yes, Kentucky leads the way in sending its players on to the NBA, as compared to other college programs. Problem is, the “get-my-players-to-the-pros” system hasn’t produced an equitable number of championships. 

Big Blue may not be blue enough to overcome red Kentucky, while Coach Cal’s present system has the state feeling blue and seeing red. It’s a “house divided” on a whole different level; quite an awkward “house divided” at that. 

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