After about 6 years of detesting the guy, I am finally starting to like Dick After about 6 years of detesting the guy, I am finally starting to like Dick

Happy 70th Birthday Dick!!! Great to see you have our back … finally


After about 6 years of detesting the guy, I am finally starting to like Dick Vitale again. More on that in just a little bit but first, tonight’s Jodie Meeks update.

The only in depth update is coming from who is expounding on their comments yesterday that no NBA teams had offered Meeks a first round guarantee. In it, they offer more of a look at Meeks and it looks like it is coming down to how hard Calipari is “recruiting” Meeks to come back.

The Jodie Meeks Decision: Yesterday we covered some of the players considering opting to return to school and our note on Jodie Meeks got the Kentucky fans up in arms. HOOPSWORLD sat with Meeks in Chicago and covered a wide range of topics, but returning to school was the one that matters most. Meeks was very clear that if he did not feel he’d be a first round selection he would return to school, saying he’d been in regular contact with new Kentucky coach John Calipari. In talking with team sources and league sources it is a given that Meeks has a tremendous amount of talent, but we could not find a single team that has him high enough on their board to think he’s a first round draft pick. There is a belief that Meeks might not have a strong season if he returned to Kentucky, but there is little doubt that Meeks would make Kentucky the front runner for the national championship next year. The big question remaining is how hard is Calipari “recruiting” Meeks to return and what guarantees will he make about roles in the offense? Coach Cal’s track record says Meeks‘ stock should go up, but as players often find out if you do not stay while you’re hot, you might not get hot again and for Meeks the decision may come down to the idea of “Will I ever be this hot again?”

So in addition to the number one recruiting class, we need Cal to pull another miracle rabbit out of his hat. Now today marks the 70’s birthday of Dick Vitale. After bashing UK unrelentlessly the last few year, Dickie V is back on the UK bandwagon and today he offered a scathing rebuke of Calipari’s critics. It’s preaching to the choir so I am including it verbatim:

I am tired of the John Calipari bashing.

It seems like there are columns and radio talk show hosts firing away against the new Kentucky coach because of the NCAA’s investigation into his former school, Memphis.

For those bashing the coach, take a break! How guilty is this guy? Do you really think he went out of his way to make sure someone took an SAT for Derrick Rose? Do you think he made sure an agent laid cash on Marcus Camby at Massachusetts?

This guy has been bashed and bashed, and in every case he has been cleared of involvement by NCAA investigators. Isn’t that enough?

The answer is no for those that have a personal agenda. I feel there are some envious people, jealous of his success. Remember, he did not come up in a pedigree situation.

When you are talking about Calipari’s former employers, Massachusetts and Memphis, he paid his dues and busted his butt. He worked so hard, playing games at all hours to get exposure for his programs.

Let’s face reality … they did not have the ammunition that Kentucky has … big blue is one of the Rolls Royce programs in America. Just look at their practice facility; it is like a Taj Mahal. I love the passion of those fans in bluegrass country!

There is nobody else that could have done the job that he did with the Minutemen. Just look at the program before he arrived at Curry Hicks Cage. He was a Frank Lloyd Wright, an architect who build a program into prominence. His intensity, emotion, passion and ability to recruit stand out. He communicates exceptionally well with the modern day athlete.

Calipari has that salesmanship about him. He is one of the few coaches who can handle the pressure of that environment in Lexington. A guy like Rick Pitino did, and he could have won three championships in a row with a little break. Pitino is a future Hall of Famer who would admit now that he should never have left Kentucky for the NBA.

Calipari, like Pitino, has that magical personality to sell the Wildcat program. Unfortunately he has dealt with other issues prior to his first game in Lexington. It has already been a turbulent pre-season as he prepares for the 2009-10 campaign, and the bashers have had a field day.
I understand that coaches have to be accountable for the actions he is involved in. In this instance, he was not involved.

Enough is enough.

Let’s give the guy some due. I know there are people who will scream if the NCAA infractions committee says Memphis has to take down that Final Four banner because of the Rose situation.

People will say it is Calipari’s fault.

The coach is guilty of one thing … convincing talented players to perform at the schools he represents. These are players other people would have died to have.

I know I am going off, but I have been reading so many articles by people taking shots. I don’t feel they are fair.

So it’s been a slow day today. Aside from Calipari’s tweets on how glad he is to be back from China and how excited he is to coach this team, we just have the Jodie Meeks watch. Once that is settled, we will move on to whatever roster moves and then put our full attention to football.

And on that premise, starting tomorrow, I will start looking at the UK roster and recruits in depth starting with the QB position. Since summer looks to be slow, I will be looking at the positions over the summer and gearing up for the Miami game.

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