I don’t like to write in an emotional state. When I do that I tend to write stupid things, things that if they were said by a caller into Dakich’s show, would result in Dakich saying, “You’re out of your mind. Thank you for your call.” But I can’t help it today. I am, all at the same time, really annoyed/disappointed/frustrated/angry/stupefied. All because of this.
Indiana University Vice President and Director of Athletics Fred Glass has announced that Indiana University will not sign a new contract to play the University of Kentucky in men’s basketball next season in light of their insistence that the matchup be moved to off-campus sites.
“While we understand that such neutral site games could be quite lucrative, we think the series should be continued as it is, home and home,” said Glass. “Playing on campus enables our students to attend these marquee games which we believe is a great component of the overall college experience. Playing in the historic venues that are Assembly Hall and Rupp Arena is also a tremendous experience for our student-athletes.”
The latest two-game, home and home contract between the schools expired following the Wildcats visit in December to Bloomington. Subsequently, Kentucky has conditioned the continuation of the series on moving the games to Louisville and/or Indianapolis.
“In the final analysis, we want our student-athletes, our overall student body and our season ticket holders to enjoy this series at Assembly Hall,” said Glass. “We would be open to reviving the series in the future on a home and home basis.”
This has been coming since last December when John Calipari polled the UK faithful on which of the three big time non-conference games they currently had contracted, UofL, North Carolina, or Indiana they would be most OK with dropping, after all he had this horrible problem with player turnover that just kept happening to him and was no one’s fault, so we shouldn’t argue about who forgot to pick up whom.
Their answer was Indiana.
And who could blame them? We hadn’t really been holding up our end of the deal as of late. So, the seed was planted before we beat them in Assembly Hall on December 10.
But our win that day ended that conversation for a while, and I thought put it to bed completely. I just couldn’t see UK dropping the series after a loss like that. It would look far too much like cowardice. It also wouldn’t make any sense financially.
But then we were placed in the same bracket and had a rematch in the NCAA tournament. A rematch without Verdell Jones III, the man who assisted on the game winning basket in December, but a rematch all that same. And UK won this one. Followed by a win over Louisville and an eventual national title. Suddenly it wouldn’t look like Cal was ducking us.
It still wouldn’t make any sense financially, but suddenly the notion that the series might end was a little less crazy.
And then it boiled down to this. UK wanted to return the series to neutral site games. IU wanted to keep it home and home. Neither side blinked. Series cancelled.
Fred Glass and Tom Crean have been pushing the message that they are fighting for the students and the fans, after all it’s harder for the students to get to Indianapolis or Louisville than it is to get to Assembly Hall. They were being noble. Looking out for us.
Even though a return to the neutral site set up could have been “very lucrative” they were willing to leave all that money on the table on principle. You know, for the kids.
Kentucky, on the other hand was in it for the benjamins. There was more money to be made at neutral sites. They didn’t want to come play in Assembly Hall and lose again, or risk losing to us in Rupp next year when we come in ranked number 1. You see, they’re the bad guys.
It’s a narrative I’m quite comfortable with. I like the idea of us being the good and noble and UK being greedy and selfish. And it holds up pretty well until you ask one simple question.
Isn’t it better to play at a neutral site than not at all?
Or what about this question.
Who just won this face off?
I can tell you who lost.
ESPN or CBS.
Each team’s Strength of Schedule and RPI.
But who won?
It wasn’t IU. By refusing to play at a neutral site we lost revenue, the chance to beat a rival, and a marquee December match up.
The only possible winner in this whole thing is Calipari. Because what about this. Calipari never had any intention of renewing the contract and the offer of a neutral site wasn’t a real offer. There was no place to actually play the game in Louisville and UK never would have agreed to a game in Indy every year. So, Cal gets what he always wanted, no IU game next year.
And all of college basketball is worse for it.
Which is completely consistent with everything else Calipari has done in his coaching career, so this should really be no surprise.
But it doesn’t make me any less annoyed/disappointed/frustrated/angry/stupefied. As much as I hate UK, I love the rivalry. And I’ll not go so far as to sat that a national championship without a win over UK wouldn’t mean as much, I will say that it would be even sweeter with one.
But, that’s too easy. That’s a return to the good v. evil narrative we started with. And if that were completely true, the move from IU would have been to offer to sign a neutral site contract for two years and then have it fall through when there was no way to secure a venue, showing everyone once and for all that this whole thing was an international communist conspiracy to sap and impurity all of our precious bodily fluids.