It took over 30 years, but former UK coach Joe B. Hall finally has received his just due for his 13-year tenure in leading the Kentucky Wildcats’ storied basketball program.
There is a story behind this story as well, but we’ll get to that later.
Hall was continuously and unrealistically maligned over his 13 years by many in the UK fan base, and often chastised by the statewide media contingent, usually led by one Billy Reed. But Hall got total vindication this past weekend when he was deservedly inducted into the college basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City.
Hall won several SEC championships during the golden era of SEC basketball when players like Charles Barkley and Chuck Person of Auburn, Bernard King and Ernie Grunfeld of Tennessee, Durand “Rudy” Macklin and Kenny Higgs of LSU, and Dominique Wilkins of Georgia were roaming the college basketball courts across the south.
Hall took three teams to the Final Four with the first Final Four team finishing as runner up when UCLA icon John Wooden abruptly announced his retirement just hours before the 1975 semifinal game, giving the Wizard of Westwood the entire free world’s sentimental boost to go out as a winner.
Then, in 1978, Hall won his coveted NCAA championship with one of UK’s most powerful teams led by his first set of twin towers in Rick Robey and, Mike Phillips with the floor general of that group being a steady and crafty point guard by the name of Kyle Macy, still to this day one of UK’s most favorite players.
In the 1983-84 season, Hall had arguably his most talented team with Sam Bowie, Melvin Turpin, Kenny Walker, Charles Hurt, Winston Bennett, James Blackmon, Jim Masters, and Dicky Beal, but fell to Georgetown in the Final Four semifinal round when the team went dead cold from the field, shooting 17 percent for the game.
Hall was passed over for many years by the college basketball Hall of Fame selection committee, reportedly because the committee felt a 13-year career as a head coach was just a couple years short of what they thought was enough success required for induction. In a very unique twist behind the scenes, a few years ago one veteran and well-respected coach went to bat for Hall, a coach who had many bitter battles on and off the court with Hall during the 70’s and early 80’s. However, after all those years of animosity and bitterness there was a unique appreciation that developed after retirement between Hall and his new friend.
In the end, the guy who is as much responsible for Joe B. Hall being inducted into the college basketball Hall of Fame as anyone was his old nemesis but new friend, Denny Crum.
This brings me to my last but most important remark.
John Calipari and Rick Pitino might do well to take a page out of Hall and Crum’s history book and bury the hatchet on these way too often silly jabs and remarks toward one another that just feeds the media as well as the Kentucky and Louisville fan bases who are already bordering on ridiculous insanity at times.
Most of roster continues to build identity and roles, except for Ryan Harrow
John Calipari’s still wet-behind-the-ears Kentucky Wildcats returned home to the friendly confines of Rupp Arena last Friday for a solid confidence building win against Lafayette University (101 - 49), and will undoubtedly continue their track toward building the team concept and developing roles and identities this week when they entertain Morehead State University on Wednesday, and then on Friday match up against Long Island University.
Ryan Harrow’s health has slowed the progress of the team improving as a whole, but still there is a lot being revealed each game for the kiddie corps of freshman to build on and work toward that ultimate goal of being solid in the team concept by late February. The fly in that ointment is that Harrow is yet to play considerable minutes in a game, supposedly due to flu-like symptoms, although there is a little mystery developing in recent days, according to some sources, that Harrow may have worked his way into the proverbial dog house with Coach Cal. But I must repeat once again in this column that we all know how rumors circulate when UK basketball is the topic .
We shall see in the coming weeks.
UK football coaching search continues
The UK football coaching search continues to heighten across the Commonwealth, with the state’s two daily flagship newspapers in Lexington and Louisville leading the charge daily along with the radio talk shows, Internet sites, and social media in general. Here is my take on the topic after spending the past weekend in the press room of Rupp Arena and Commonwealth Stadium.
First and foremost, it appears that Mitch Barnhart has dug his feet in the ground and stood strong on the Bobby Petrino angle. It ain’t gonna happen, folks, so go on down the road to the next candidate of your choice because Barnhart fought off some of UK’s most deep-pocketed donors last week and won out, or at least that what’s I’ve been told by UKAA insiders.
Also, there were reports circulating among several SEC scribes this past weekend that the SEC athletic directors had secretly joined forces and decided to black ball Petrino from being hired into the SEC, but we all know about those verbal agreements don’t we, especially when it’s glaringly apparent a couple SEC athletic directors are trying to desperately hold onto their own jobs.
At least UK doesn’t have the financial dilemma that Tennessee has. Presently UT is paying off the contracts of Philip Fulmer, Mike Hamilton, Bruce Pearl, Todd Raleigh, and now owes Derek Dooley a $5 million buyout plus what they’ll have to dish out to get the new football coach.
Can you say ticket price hike coming for Vol nation?
Some candidates you may want to do a little research on and choose for plugging on your favorite website or social media angle are:
Head Coaches :
Butch Jones - Cincinnati (Hottest new angle)
Mike McIntyre - San Jose State Univ. (Still in the hunt)
David Cutcliff - Duke (Has some folks at Tennessee in his corner)
Sonny Dykes - La. Tech (Fading a little maybe because Tony Franklin is his OC)
Philip Fulmer - Probably Barnhart’s personal first choice, but it would be suicide for Barnhart.
Jon Gruden - Forget it folks, UK is not a big enough media market for this guy’s ego.
Tony Dungy - Forget it again, he’s too smart to take this chance, nor does he need the money.
Hot Up & Coming Coordinators:
Kirby Smart - Alabama DC
Neal Brown - Texas Tech OC
Brent Pease - Florida OC (Jared Lorenzen’s favorite candidate)