“Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.”
CLEVELAND, OH – No, I’m not talking early Sunday morning television circa 1971 when clay figures appeared as a show called “Davy and Goliath.” I’m talking about this year’s Elite Eight heavyweight tilt that featured the undefeated Goliaths of the NCAA, Kentucky vs. the underdog, and “Davy”-like Fighting Irish of Notre Dame–wait, what?
Notre Dame has never been seen as an underdog in anything. The Gipper, Ronald Reagan, Joe Montana, Touchdown Jesus you name it. The fighting Irish are the New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys of the “amateur” ranks. You either love ’em or hate ’em and there’s rarely much ambivalence. I know this has traditionally applied mostly to the gridiron. I must admit though that their college hoops squad gave the Bullies of UK one hell of a fight, and somehow became not just an underdog but a team to root for and appreciate.
Subplots galore made last night’s matchup enticing. Irish head coach Mike Brey lost his Mother a week ago, and his kids rallied around him-reaching the Elite Eight. Jerian Grant-son of Harvey, nephew of Michael Jordan’s long time all-star Bulls teammate Horace was the best player I’d seen all year in the non-UK division.
But looming over all was the big bad Kentucky Wildcats coached by loudmouth, full of himself John Calipari. Many have written that Calipari makes no pretense about what or who he is. That he doesn’t pretend his players are actual student-athletes. And that for this “honesty” he should be respected and admired. That’s crap. This is NOT the “spirit” of college sports. And no, I’m not being naive about the multi-billion dollar business that college sports is. It is the kids playing who are most impacted by the NCAA allowing and enabling Calipari to diminish the efforts of real kids playing their hearts out. This Kentucky conglomerate is allowed to operate by the money grubbing NCAA and “compete” against college kids. The very existence of the Wildcats in the NCAA tournament is absurd. The “One and Done” factory known as the University of Kentucky should be banned from competition. No one does hypocrisy quite like the NCAA, but this has gotten out of hand.
I was rooting like Hell for the Golden Domers last night, and for virtually the entire game, it was theirs to steal. As the game got tighter and the very real possibility of a monumental upset loomed, we saw Coach Cal sweat on the sidelines. The kind of sweating not seen since Henry Hill was driving around while helicopters swarmed all around. We saw his temper, his whining. Mostly we wanted to tell him to shut up and sit the flock down! The entire farce of a tournament has been run to ensure UK comes out on top. And in their final seconds, Kentucky prevailed. Plus Ashley Judd? Isn’t that enough?
I am way beyond my “Hating Christian Laettner” days. “I hate John Calipari” seems to be much more appropriate right now.
Come back tomorrow for a man that hates to see his Buffalo Bills for what they are, DJ Eberle.