By now, you’re surely sick of hearing about the demise of the Kentucky-Indiana rivalry.
I’m sick of writing about it. I’ve done it three times already. But the fact that there is enough juice in this story to squeeze our four separate posts should tell you a thing or two about how important and meaningful it is to the sport.
The latest news comes straight from John Calipari himself, who took to his website CoachCal.com to explain precisely why the rivalry was not renewed:
When we schedule, there are three factors my staff and our administration must take into consideration: (1) preparing our players for the postseason, (2) our fans and (3) the financial component.
None of this should surprise you. It’s not a secret that Coach Cal’s single concern when it comes to everything that he does that is basketball related centers around preparing his team for the NCAA tournament. If it doesn’t better his program, he’s not interested in it. The history of the rivalry between Indiana and Kentucky means nothing to him if he feels it hinders his team’s chances of winning a national title.
And, frankly, there is nothing wrong with that. I’m not here to blame Coach Cal for the end of the rivalry. I’m not here to blame Tom Crean for it, either. Both men did what they felt was right for their program. The NCAA tournament is played on a neutral court, so Coach Cal wants to play marquee non-conference games on neutral courts. That would also allow him to generate more revenue and open up tickets for UK fans that can’t get into Rupp. Crean wants to keep the games in on-campus venues, in large part to avoid the free recruiting that would be possible if the game were to be held in Indianapolis, Marquis Teague’s hometown.
Understandable. Defendable. Justifiable. However you want to put up, Cal and Crean both had valid reasons for refusing to budge on the matter.
That doesn’t change the fact that it sucks.
Think about how awesome Rupp Arena or Lucas Oil Stadium — or anywhere that the game would have been played — would have been. Think about how awesome it would continue to be with these two programs sitting atop the polls.
The bottom-line is this: John Calipari and Tom Crean have different goals than I do when it comes to college basketball. I want to see as much great basketball as possible. I want to see Kentucky play Indiana, UNC, Duke, Louisville, Michigan State — I could go one — each and every season.
John Calipari and Tom Crean want to hang banners.
It’s a shame those two things can’t coincide.