So the Tea Party mentality –- my way or not at all –- has now infected the Indiana-Kentucky basketball rivalry.
Don't you wish officials from both schools were better than that?
Wouldn't you EXPECT them to be better than that?
In case you missed it, IU and UK won't renew their annual basketball rivalry. Why? Because they can't agree on where to play the games.
Yes, you can hear all the blather about how one side is right and the other is, well, idiots. You can blame, choose sides, call names.
Don't we get enough of that from our politicians?
Do we have to get it from our sports leaders?
Reasonable people disagree. Mature people compromise.
Maybe it's time to get both sides into the same room and break out the pacifiers.
So what's a reasonable compromise? How about a mixture of on-campus and neutral sites. The first year you play at Kentucky (since IU hosted this past season). The next year is at IU. The third year is wherever Kentucky can get the game (probably at Louisville's Freedom Hall, since the University of Louisville likely won't okay playing this game on its KFC YUM Center home court). The fourth year is at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium. Or even play every neutral site game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Then you revisit the scenario. Or you just keep it this way for the next 100 years
You'd like to think this we-ain't-playing-each-other approach is just another negotiating ploy. That there will be a big enough uproar from fans from both schools to make administrators and coaches get something done.
But sometimes people get stubborn, get ticked, get their feelings hurt. They focus on pride rather than common sense. They take a stand -- some have called it not caving -- no matter how dumb it is.
This is really dumb.
IU and Kentucky have played at least once a year since 1969. The Wildcats lead the series 32-24. Some of the most dynamic players and coaches in college basketball history, plus some of the most dramatic games, have been a part of this rivalry.
And both sides want to screw this up?
And then there's this:
CONSPIRACY THEORY NO. 1: This is UK coach John Calipari's way of trying to tap into the talent-rich Indianapolis area by having a game there every other year or, perhaps, every year.
REALITY CHECK: Stud Indianapolis players already know about Kentucky and Calipari. Playing a game there won't be a deciding factor. Calipari lands NBA picks no matter where his teams play. And IU coach Tom Crean can recruit with anybody.
Still, Calipari stirred things up last fall by saying UK needed to lighten its non-conference schedule load. He's getting his wish. The Wildcat-North Carolina game is reportedly toast along with the Indiana game.
CONSPIRACY THEORY No. 2: Crean and Calipari are close friends who don't like playing each other, so they used this as an excuse to stop playing each other.
REALITY CHECK: Are you nuts?
Louisville Courier-Journal sports writer Kyle Tucker tweeted that UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart “was legitimately surprised” when told Thursday afternoon IU had ended the series.
Barnhart told Tucker that Kentucky only gets 100 tickets for Assembly Hall games and that he liked the 50-50 ticket split when the games were at Freedom Hall and at the Hoosier Dome.
IU officials point out that it was Kentucky that ended the neutral-site format back in 2006.
Barnhart told Tucker that the cancellation was “disappointing.” He said he “hated” it for the fans, especially considering both teams are likely to be ranked in the top 5 next season.
Calipari told ESPN's Andy Katz Kentucky was willing to play at Lucas Oil Stadium every year. He said UK will find another team to play at Lucas Oil Stadium.
One interesting buzz opponent: Purdue.
Except, the Wildcats, according to Jeff Rabjohns of Peegs.com, don't have a Lucas Oil Stadium date lined up, so that all could be Calipari smoke screen.
Yes, we know. It's shocking.
Crean texted Katz that it would be too expensive to transport 8,500 IU students to Indianapolis. Given the Hoosiers had made that work when they previously played in Indy, and the amount of money playing in larger facilities is likely to generate, that seems a non-issue.
IU-Kentucky is one of the great rivalries in college sports. Check that. It is now that the Hoosiers are back to national relevance. The Indiana patsy days of old are gone, and perhaps that had something to do with the Wildcats' insistence on neutral sites. Maybe they didn't want anything to do with Assembly Hall anymore after what happened last December.
Yes, we're referring to Christian Watford's three-point, UK-stunning buzzer beater that resulted in fans storming Branch McCracken Court.
A cynic might say that scared Calipari.
Not that we're cynics.
As far as which program needs this game more than the other, who cares? This game is good for fans and for college basketball. Plus, no matter where it's played, it generates a lot of money.
In these financially challenging times, that matters.
Officially, IU blames Kentucky. In a release it says a new contract won't be signed “in light of (Kentucky's) insistence that the matchup be moved to off-campus sites.”
Indiana athletic director Fred Glass had this to say:
“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. 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.”
Or, as Crean put it, “We have a strong belief that this series should be played on campus.”
Kentucky didn't agree. IU didn't concede.
“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,” Glass said in the release. “We would be open to reviving the series in the future on a home-and-home basis.”
First, though, break out the pacifiers.