Final Four set – Big Blue Nation coming to Indy a self-impressed conquering horde with full wallets and flawed consciences

by Kent Sterling

Kentucky Basketball fans will descend upon Indianapolis this weekend with long memories, big thirst, and full wallets.

Kentucky Basketball fans will descend upon Indianapolis this weekend with long memories, big thirst, and full wallets.

“Hey, their money spends good!” is the best Indianapolis basketball fans can mutter as Kentucky fans make the trip to Indy for its coronation this weekend.

Thirty-nine years ago, Indiana University completed its mission of winning a National Championship with the last undefeated season in college basketball.  Without much else to celebrate in the current iteration of the Indiana Basketball program, being the last undefeated team is something that Hoosiers fans cherish.

John Calipari and his very talented soon-to-be college dropouts will come to Indiana’s capitol for what they expect to be a quick 80-minutes of joyous revelry that will end with nets being cut down, and another opportunity to crow about the superiority of Calipari’s recruiting, training, and coaching.

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The truth is that Kentucky has benefitted from a ridiculous rule that oppresses the ability of African-Americans to earn a living playing basketball professionally at a point when players are plenty ready to compete in the NBA.  The rule exists for all college basketball programs to exploit, but Calipari does it best.

So Calipari wins.

That’s not to say that he can’t coach, but Kentucky’s success – like virtually every other basketball program – is dependent upon talent acquisition.  Like playing cards, a superior hand is hard to beat, and nobody stacks a deck like Calipari.

So Kentucky will play other blue bloods (Wisconsin and then the winner of Duke vs. Michigan State), but nobody’s blood is bluer that Kentucky, and they are coming to a state filled with people who have great disdain for a basketball program founded on the principle that winning means everything, and the current repressive NBA Draft eligibility rules are a suitable foundation for success.

In the absence of a team from Indiana representing a state as proud of its basketball heritage as its breaded tenderloins and celebration of speed during the Month of May, the best fans here could hope for was a visit from its neighbors to the south because rooting against your sworn enemy is almost as much fun as backing your own team.

Kentucky is as close to a blood enemy as Indiana has, and while fans here might be repulsed by the thought of the smug Calipari cutting down the nets and holding the National Championship Trophy aloft a week from tonight, the thought of them leaving a few million bucks behind might be the best revenge.

No program rivaled Kentucky in basketball excellence this year, and no fans travel as enthusiastically either.  They like staying in nice hotels, drinking expensive booze, and eating thick and pricey steaks.  They are great guests – mostly jovial knuckleheads primed for the party as much as great basketball, and that should suit Indianapolis business owners and servers just fine.

While basketball fans in Indiana might be repulsed by Calipari’s recruiting tactics and successes, there is not a reasonable fan who should extend their disgust to the players.  They are outstanding and selfless, and who can blame them for signing on for this kind of thrill ride/love fest.  Loathe Calipari if you like, but enjoy watching the kids – even if you can only do it through gritted teeth.

Indianapolis was built for a weekend like this – designed to help guests leave their cash here while being impressed with the genuine pride of Hoosiers thrilled to host thousands of visitors.

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No city does it better.  It’s just a shame that it’s damn likely Kentucky fans are going to roll south next week, very pleased with themselves for hiring a coach that understands capitalizing on a morally perverse rule better than anyone else.  Cal’s team can yield a weekend long party with a Monday night finale that satisfies thousands of basketball crazed fans willing to look the other way as athletes are compensated for their excellence with 25% or half an education.

That’s business in college basketball these days.  The only consolation for the slightly more pure of heart Hoosiers where Notre Dame, Purdue, Indiana, and Butler ensure the term “student-athlete” means exactly what it should is the payout for hosting their party.

12 thoughts on “Final Four set – Big Blue Nation coming to Indy a self-impressed conquering horde with full wallets and flawed consciences

  1. Bob Ashworth

    Will downtown Indy continue to be the mecca of college basketball, NFL combines, and Gen con type events thanks to Pence and RFRA???

    1. kentsterling Post author

      Either a companion bill protecting the LGBT community will be passed, or Indy will be shuffled to the bottom of the list.

  2. BBN

    Indiana fans always revert back to their one true love: whiny moralizing. It makes this Cats fan feel all warm and fuzzy inside. GO CATS!!!

  3. Warren in TN.

    Hi Kent. Please allow me a moment of a disclaimer and say that I’m going to have to give you a harsh (but respectful) comment….

    Once again, you’ve given into despair and prematurely pronounced UK the title winner. It’s a win-win for you no matter how UK finishes. If UK goes 40-0, well you can say “I told you so” and if they lose, you can gloat over “smug” Coach Cal and the “jovial knucklehead” UK fans being denied a title (and this year, an undefeated season to boot).

    It didn’t turn out that way last year when you gave the title to UK, and it still may not this year.

    It’s a tired refrain. The negative overtones towards Kentucky fans and especially Coach Cal are a tired rehash of your accusation that he is capitalizing on a “morally perverse” NBA rule better than anyone else, and that rates among the least of your contemptuous remarks about Coach Cal.

    It’s also a reflection of the disgust and contempt you have (in general) for most of Kentucky’s fans. I think that’s very unfortunate, because I certainly don’t allow myself to hold that opinion of Indiana fans because of the bad apples that let their hatred of all things Kentucky to override any sense of common goodness and decency they have and hold. I would NEVER allow myself to feel that way about the Hoosier fans in my own family, most assuredly.

    At any rate, it’s an old song and dance routine, Kent. By now, I would have expected better criticism from you, and far less whining. Instead, we get more of the same. Actually, I would have hoped that by now, you would take a much better approach, especially with what you have to look forward to this year. I’m sorry I feel it necessary to call you out here, but it’s long overdue.

    Here’s some constructive criticism and some advice for you.

    Try to be positive. you’ll get a lot further with focusing on positives than your perceived negatives.

    Focus on the extremely good games we’re going to enjoy in the Final Four (and title game, no matter who makes it there) this year. Focus on how well the Big10 performed in sending two great teams there in a year where noone expected that, and which, by all standards, was a down year for the conference as a whole.

    Focus on the incredible number of combined Final Fours these coaches bring this year (25). Focus on the potential of an ALL-Big10 title game! WOW! Think about that for a second, nobody is mentioning that even as a possibility! (and it could happen!)

    Put a positive focus on the historic achievement that Kentucky can make this year and how it can be a great thing for college basketball if they can pull it off. (I contend it is still unlikely). Write about how awesome it would be to see Duke and Wisconsin play in a title game rematch! (Would be awesome to see, I would definitely be rooting for the Badgers in that one.)

    There are so many other great and positive angles you could have worked on to write about. Instead, you took a really low road here.

    Don’t do what you just did with this article, which is take your potshots at Coach Cal, whom you have shown your contempt over the years. Don’t make backhanded compliments of UK fans spending money in Indy. Don’t go there. We already understand how you feel.

    You’re better than that.

    Shame on you. I expected better. Next time, please be positive and constructive and stop the backbiting negativity that makes this place a difficult place to visit sometimes.

    Please. Remember I’m your friend, I love your site and respect the hell out of you, and really enjoy reading the comments of all the readers. I only wanted to say all of this to you so as to remind you that the world is a better place for us, because it is what we make it.

    Love to you and all the readers,
    – Warren in TN.

      1. Warren in TN.

        With all due respect, Dave, I disagree. I’ve been reading Kent’s site for a long time, and I’ve had personal correspondence of a very positive and encouraging nature with him. I’ve nothing but respect for Kent, he’s just outspoken about his dislike of Cal and Kentucky fans’ nature. He’s certainly entitled to his opinion!

        Personally, even though I’ve been a UK fan for over 40 years (perhaps BECAUSE I’ve been a UK fan for that long !) I can agree with people when they point out the generally arrogant, antagonistic, and spiteful nature of how some BBN fans carry themselves. I get tired of the over the top disrespect and brash machismo shown by those UK fans.

        I think that stems from a defensive posture that UK fans have about the program and the scandals of the past. It also stems from a perceived (right or wrong) slight to the program where UK’s basketball excellence is held in less than a respectful light. The truth actually lies in between those two opposing viewpoints, if you ask me, as it is with most things in life.

        I also realize every fanbase has its’ “bad apples.” For me, I think the negative fans of any team are a minority. That said, sometimes it sure seems like they’re a vocal majority in this day and age where the internet empowers so many to voice their opinions, especially where the Big Blue Nation is concerned.

        Nevertheless, I refuse to characterize all fans of a team in one broad, over-simplistic stereotyped image, it also applies to individuals as well – as it should to all kinds of groups of people. There has to be a balance, and I would rather focus on positives and simply let go of the negatives. But that’s just me.

        As for Kent, I usually like what he has to say, enjoy reading his thoughts, and will continue to be a regular visitor to his site.

        Who knows, maybe one day I’ll finally rub off on him, eh?

        No worries, all smiles friends ! 🙂
        – w

    1. kentsterling Post author

      Warren –

      I’m an imperfectly constructed man with occasional lapses in logic and attitude. Because of the odd contract of my psyche, I need to empty the cache of unwanted negativity once in a while. It’s kind of like blowing out a carburetor in an old car.

      Listening to Calipari congratulate himself, or – even worse – wryly chastise himself, is nauseating.

      Of course, you’re right. I should avoid writing toward the darkness, but I don’t do it often.

      The death threats and unpleasantness authored by UK fans shape my tenor.

      I will try to be more clever about it next time – not just reiterate the same old arguments about Kentucky’s success being the result of – well – you know.

      I appreciate you holding me accountable for my product. It’s much appreciated.


  4. Sonny

    Kent encapsulates what the entire IU fan base has become: a bunch of self righteous scoffers.

    Let these little souls sit in the corner and take their shots. It’s a pathetic existence, and deep down they know it.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      Not sure why offering an opinion on the methodology responsible for Kentucky’s success is self-righteous or representative of scoffing. A pathetic existence is refusing to see the errors that success can hide. The ends don’t justify the means, and deep down you know it.

  5. Jeff Gregory

    I don’t usually come to the defense of UK, but I will say that they do seem to have a lot of returning players on this year’s team. Without them, I don’t see them being in the Final Four.

    Warren, I thank you for your kindness towards IU fans. I find it very rare, though. I live on the border between Indiana and Kentucky and I can tell you, there is equal scorn from UK fans directed at IU fans as there is going to UK fans from Hoosiers.

    When I was a kid, I was equal UK fan and IU fan. My dad was from Muhlenberg County, Kentucky and he loved the Cats. He also was rooting for His adopted Hoosiers and was proud when I got my acceptance letter from Bloomington. Knowing my dad like I did (he passed away before I could step foot on the Bloomington campus), I don’t think he would be as pro UK as he was since the one-and-done marketing policy took hold. We were fans of Kevin Grevey and Jack “Goose” Givens, et al of BBN. It is just a different animal anymore.


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