ESPN’s Dick Vitale Calls for Resumption of Indiana vs. Kentucky Series

by Kent Sterling

This shot caused two things - an Indiana win over Kentucky, and the end of the series.

This shot caused two things – an Indiana win over Kentucky, and the end of the series.

Dick Vitale wants Kentucky and Indiana to agree to play one another in a four-year series – one game each in Assembly Hall, Rupp Arena, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, and the Yum! Center in Louisville.  He also wants cancer to stop killing kids.

The last time the two teams played a regular season game in late 2011, Indiana beat the top-ranked Wildcats on a buzzer beating three-pointer by Christian Watford.  The crowd rushed the floor, and John Calipari has squawked that the lack of security at Assembly Hall put the health of his players, coaches, and fans at risk.

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Calipari claims that was the reason he refused to return to Assembly Hall, and Indiana has refused to abandon the home and home scheduling because, they say, it’s unfair to the students to take a marquee home game away from them.  In chess, that’s called a stalemate.

Vitale wants Calipari and Tom Crean to figure out how these two programs can resume a rivalry that is so important to so many fans and players.

For the last two decades before the series’ end Indiana vs. Kentucky wasn’t what it was back in the 1970s and 1980s until Watford hit the shot.  From December, 1993, through the end of the regular season series, Kentucky won 14 and Indiana only five.  Indiana was ranked in the top 25 for eight of those games, while UK was ranked 15 times.

The high school all-star series between Indiana and Kentucky prep stars has ebbed in the opposite direction.  In the last 18 all-star games, Indiana has won 17 with future stars like Mike Conley, Eric Gordon, Greg Oden, Gary Harris, all of the Zellers, Jeff Teague, Courtney Lee, E’Twaun Moore and others starring for Indiana.

Vitale appeared on Dan Dakich’s radio show on 1070 the Fan in Indianapolis, and said that he talked to Calipari last Friday about the resumption of the series, but his plea fell on deaf ears.

Dakich suggested that if the coaches and athletic directors can’t get it done, the two university presidents should sit down and figure this out.

This would be a particularly nice event for Indiana fans who would like to see the Hoosiers play a non-conference schedule that is less cupcake and more steak.  While Kentucky played Michigan State, Baylor, North Carolina, and Louisville, Indiana’s only ranked opponents were Syracuse (mandated by the ACC/Big Ten Challenge) and Connecticut.  Interestingly, the only preseason game won by Kentucky or Indiana was the Lousiville vs. UK – the only game of the six to be played at either Rupp Arena or Assembly Hall.

Indiana fans would happily accept games against any major conference opponent rather than the parade of teams with RPI’s ranked 200 or lower, and if Kentucky is one of those – all the better.

Here’s a good way to assess non-conference opponents – if the AD can’t guess correctly what the mascot of a potential opponent is, they are ineligible to visit.  Quick, what are the mascots for LIU-Brooklyn, Kennesaw State, Stetson, Samson, Stony Brook, North Florida, and Nicholls State?  I know North Florida is the Ospreys because it is so unusual, and Stetson should be the Hats.  Other than that, I’m drawing a blank, and I covered three of those games.

Vitale is constantly raising money to beat cancer, and does great work on behalf of kids with cancer.  Click here to learn about how you can give to help Vitale end cancer – pediatric cancer specifically.

The least we can do is help a guy who fights for quality college basketball fight against something far more insidious.  Indiana and Kentucky fans don’t agree about much, but the fight against cancer that attacks children is a pretty good place to start.

14 thoughts on “ESPN’s Dick Vitale Calls for Resumption of Indiana vs. Kentucky Series

  1. Jeff Gregory

    I think Vitale has a good compromise there. If Calipari thinks his players are in danger from fans on the court at IU, he is failing to prepare his young’uns for the rigors of the NBA. I mean I know poli-sci majors are tough, but Metta World Peace is known to cause a bruise or two, also.

  2. Warren / TN.

    OK, OK. You win. I capitulate. Indiana can play Kentucky again if you promise to just stop nagging the hell out of us about it! PLEASE, I beg of you! You’re like my first wife, nag, nag, nag! We’ll just play all of the games in Assembly Hall with officials of your choosing, and agree to your fans court storming every single time Indiana wins in the new series. In fact, just go ahead and storm the court regardless of the outcome, you’ve already won.

    I’ll even volunteer to finally come back up there and suffer a potentially fatal trip to Disassembly Hall. Seeing as how I’ve already got a brain tumor, I know I wouldn’t get so lucky as to die from something so innocuous as a ceiling panel falling from the Rafters, so it’s all good. I’ll come back up there provided you allow my many Hoosier family members from Corydon to New Albany to escort me for my own personal protection (at least they can provide a modicum of protection from you cootie-ridden Hoosier fans). I pray thee, Lord, that you guys can fix that dilapidated mausoleum straight from this Kentucky fans’ nightmares before I have to return!

    I’ll put in a word to Coach Cal to see if we can get our RPI ranking down to the sub-200 range where you’re comfortable scheduling the opposition from before we meet, too. We’ll even offer to hold hands and sing Kum-ba-ya together with you guys after the game before we donate all our money and worldly belongings to fighting cancer. Heck, I’ve already done it, so on the upside, I personally lose NADA!

    I’m all for it, all of a sudden. I’m really hyped and stoked to get this done ASAP! And just think – if Indiana and Kentucky fans can prove that we can lovingly get along, think of the inspiration to the rest of the world we will be!

    Free at last, free at last, Thank God ALMIGHTY, we are FREE AT LAST!!!!!

    1. Pauly Balst

      I like you Warren.

      You should write a guest piece on your brain cancer challenges, what you’ve learned, anything in life you would do differently, I am sure Kent would publish it. You have something to say, and I would like to hear it. Likely it would have nothing to do with comparatively unimportant issues like college basketball.

      Just curious if you watch Breaking Bad. I’d understand if its not of interest to you, but the premise of a what a guy with fatal lung cancer might challenges conventional thinking on multiple levels.

      What do you think?

      1. Warren / TN.

        Thanks for the kind words, Pauly. I like most everyone I’ve come across on this website, witty banter and all.

        I’m not much on watching TV too much, I take my meds pretty early at night usually, and it makes staying up for a good TV show hard to do. Sometimes it makes it hard for me to watch the basketball games I’d otherwise be glued to the tube to watch, but it’s a trade-off I’ve had to grow accustomed to.

        Keep on coming back here and posting, and I mean it for everyone here. I really do enjoy having another outlet to talk stuff like the topics Kent has on this site, and enjoy visiting all the time!


    2. kentsterling Post author

      I knew you had an angry comment in you. Didn’t that feel good? It was passionate, funny, and painted negatively the fans who take Indiana basketball too seriously.

      That is the way to communicate on this website. A little reason and rationality goes a long way.

      Kentucky didn’t need much of a push to sub 200 last year with the all too quick trip to the NIT.

      When your season ends in Pittsburgh, you know it did go well.

      1. Warren / TN.

        Well, I’m just happy Kentucky looks to make the tournament this year, and hopefully we can make some noise.

        Over and above that, I really am thankful for the little things in life like the timing of that panel falling from the rafters at Assembly Hall. You said it best in your article about that. Thank the good Lord above nobody was in there to get hurt!

        Get her fixed and get those Hoosiers back in there to support your guys till’ the end. Even though it’s a strange thing to hear from a UK fan, I still say this : Stay proud and fight, fight, fight!

        Make it a good finish!

  3. Shawn

    Actually Mr. Sterling, this is inaccurate:
    The last time the two teams played in late 2011, Indiana beat the top-ranked Wildcats on a buzzer beating three-pointer by Christian Watford.

    The last time the two teams played was in March of 2012, later that same season. Kentucky won 102-90.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      The post was on the regular season series which is made clear in the post. The NCAA Tournament game is not part of the series that can be resurrected.

      1. Philboyd Studge

        Nice try, Kent. But a fail. The English language is flexible, but there is but one way to intepret: “The last time the two teams played…”

        And that would be, the actual last time the two teams played, when Kentucky hung a hundred or so on the Hoosiers and sent them scurrying home from teh NCAA tournament.

        All was not lost that night for the proud IU program. I think Indiana did hand out the much-sought after “Sweet 16 Rings” and hung a few banners, put out a commemorative book or two, had a phone book cover commissioned, and probably cut down the nets after Kentucky left the arena, something Tom Crean is known to do after a loss.

        But, let the record show, the last time the two teams met, Kentucky thrashed Indiana.

        1. kentsterling Post author

          The post is about the regular season series, and the easy drawn inference would be that the events referenced are restricted to the regular sea on games.

          As an olive branch to bring this side issue idiocy to an abrupt end, I have edited the copy to make extra clear the meaning.

          Let is never be said that I am an implacable editor.

        2. Pauly Balst

          Commemorative phone book cover, now that made me laugh. As I recall I had 1976 national champions 7-up bottles, perhaps sweet 16 participant bottles are next. I honestly did not know until an ESPN game this year they actually hung a sweet 16 banner, I thought people were joking.


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