Indiana makes right call in ending Kentucky series

The news on Thursday afternoon that Indiana and Kentucky would not renew their annual meeting beyond this season came as little surprise to those have been monitoring the comments coming from both camps for several months.

Mitch Barnhart, the Athletics Director at Kentucky, and John Calipari had been pushing Fred Glass and Tom Crean to return the game to a neutral site. Glass and Crean, meanwhile, were steadfast in their belief that the game should continue in Assembly Hall and Rupp Arena.

Last December’s game in Bloomington only solidified that belief from the IU perspective. The atmosphere produced was something Indiana built on for the rest of the season, beating Ohio State, Michigan State and Purdue at home, recreating the home court advantage that had long existed at Assembly Hall.

And so as the days passed by and it became apparent that both parties had their feet firmly entrenched in the sand, Indiana ended the stare-off rather than letting it drag out any longer.

“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,” Glass said in a release. “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.”

The immediate reaction from fans and media alike, of course, was disappointment.

Some argued that both sides should have done more to keep the game alive. The word “compromise” was tossed around by critics of both athletic departments and coaches.

Ultimately, Indiana had no compelling reason, besides money, to move the game away from Assembly Hall and Rupp Arena. On principle alone, that was enough to walk away without caving to Kentucky’s demands.

When you dig a little deeper into some of the rationale being cited for moving the game to neutral sites, it becomes even more clear that Indiana did the right thing in holding its ground.

Barnhart told a group of reporters that it was “a chance to sort of return to some of the games roots” by making a move to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and Freedom Hall in Louisville.

The problem with that is one of those two aforementioned venues grossly outpaces the other as viable. Kentucky has not and likely never will get the go ahead for a regular season game in the KFC Yum! Center, so the grossly outdated Freedom Hall, which has fewer seats than Rupp Arena, would have been the choice.

Calipari later told ESPN.com’s Andy Katz that Kentucky was willing to play both games in Indiana. “That means they don’t want to play us,” he told Katz.

Unjust fan behavior in Bloomington last December has also been discussed as a potential reason for Kentucky wanting to move the game away from Assembly Hall. Certainly the behavior of IU fans, which wouldn’t have even been discussed had Christian Watford’s shot not gone in, was no worse than the couches burning in the streets or the bullet that hospitalized a man in his 30s in the aftermath of Kentucky’s NCAA Championship last month.

In the end, Indiana decided keeping the game in front of its own fans every other season at Assembly Hall was the most important factor and it’s hard to argue the logic. Last season’s game produced the best atmosphere of the regular season in college basketball that cannot be reproduced at a neutral site. Walking away from the rivalry now, even if it’s just for a couple of years, could produce the birth of another great home-and-home series.

Barnhart and Calipari believed Indiana would blink first.

They didn’t. And for that, give Indiana credit.

  • ScottyT

    So, what many of you are saying is that IU is afraid to let UK in Indy because they fear UK’s recruiting prowess…and many of you agree?

  • DarkSouth

    recruits aren’t going to UK to win college games (that’s secondary), they’re there to improve draft stock. Beating them every year won’t change that.

  • DarkSouth

    recruits aren’t going to UK to win college games (that’s secondary), they’re there to improve draft stock. Beating them every year won’t change that.

  • marcusgresham

    Indianapolis is a much more valuable recruiting area to UK than Louisville is to UK.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    By “better shot at our recruits,” I meant “better than they have now,” not “better than us.”

    The Marquis Teagues of the world wouldn’t care if we beat pUKe 10 times in a row as long as pUKe continues to send kids to the first round of the NBA draft. They would, however, love the attention of playing in their native city every year (especially at an event that would draw 40-50,000).

  • Newman

    I would also like to see some hard evidence of poor fan behavior at the game last season. I’ve only seen the complaint from the former Playmate, but no other evidence — no video, no police reports, no documentation of the alleged apology from IU administrators. Just a bunch of chat room rants and hearsay. Anyone got anything?

  • Newman

    I would also like to see some hard evidence of poor fan behavior at the game last season. I’ve only seen the complaint from the former Playmate, but no other evidence — no video, no police reports, no documentation of the alleged apology from IU administrators. Just a bunch of chat room rants and hearsay. Anyone got anything?

  • http://twitter.com/ButlerWay ButlerWay

    I don’t think either side made the “right call.” I can see both sides to who is more at fault and both have valid points. But I can’t call any decision that ends this rivalry game a right call.

  • rmich

    I have watched IU play for the last 40 yrs and really enjoy the rivalry game with UK. I believe IU made the right decision for them and the fans. I have a hard time believing that 90% of the fans agree with you. It ‘s all about the fans and the players being able to participate in that crazy atmosphere.

  • Tie

    Cal and Barnhart never seemed to be on the same page. The AD mentions playing at neutral sites and Cal states wanting to play only at Lucas Oil. Then Barnhart threw Cal under the bus when he said, “I don’t think he (Cal) really wants to go back to Bloomington”. Chaos

  • SitH

    You all are nuts. Especially with this bushwah about the “strategic” advantages of IU backing out before the fat lady has sung. Really? Is that what the Hoosiers men’s basketball program is now all about? A strategic advantage? Sheesh. Sounds like too much business school to me. I like good basketball played by actual rivals. IU and UK ought to play. I don’t care if it’s in Madison Square Garden. Hell, Calipari told ESPN’s Andy Katz he’d play every year in Indy. SIgn me “Steamed in the Haute.”

  • SitH

    You all are nuts. Especially with this bushwah about the “strategic” advantages of IU backing out before the fat lady has sung. Really? Is that what the Hoosiers men’s basketball program is now all about? A strategic advantage? Sheesh. Sounds like too much business school to me. I like good basketball played by actual rivals. IU and UK ought to play. I don’t care if it’s in Madison Square Garden. Hell, Calipari told ESPN’s Andy Katz he’d play every year in Indy. SIgn me “Steamed in the Haute.”

  • 888

    This may not be a good idea but what if we played at the united center in Chicago. Wed both get exposure there and its neutral. Just wondering what you guys think. Wonder if CTC told Cal to shove it and told him he only wants to play in Indy to steal recruits.

  • 888

    Ya but at the time UK fans were saying that IU was irrelavant. They said our program had lost its prestige and wed never make it back ( MORONS: We only have the best natural recruiting base in the country unlike the state of Kentucky Indiana actually produces basketball players!!!) . Thats what made it all the better when we shut them up a few months later. Theyve since changed their tune and said were back and the game should be played. I agree with CTC dont give them a game in Indy so they can steal our recruits. I would be so ashamed to be from Indiana and have a jersey that said Kentucky across my chest. Its very rare that aKentucky player worth recruiting ever leaves Kentucky. If Indiana kids were as loyal as Kentucky kids the rest of the country would be in trouble.

  • LeeTimmer

    Considering that my brother-in-law is a Kansas grad, an IU-KU series would be a lot of fun for our family. They had some great battles in the early 1990s, the last time they had a seasonal series.

  • IU Haute Fan

    Everyone sort of forgets that when IU and UK first started playing neutral site games in the Hoosier Dome, it was part of a four team doubleheader with Notre Dame and UL… So in the years IU played UL in that game, someone will have to look it up, but IU and UK then played somewhere else – I think at Freedom Hall. Then the next year we always played UL at Freedom Hall. It was a big deal for a bit, but then devolved into IU and UK only after a few years. So these UK admins and coaches don’t exactly have their history right – I’m betting IU would not have ever gone off campus if not for the idea of the four team doubleheader filling the dome.

  • IU Haute Fan

    Everyone sort of forgets that when IU and UK first started playing neutral site games in the Hoosier Dome, it was part of a four team doubleheader with Notre Dame and UL… So in the years IU played UL in that game, someone will have to look it up, but IU and UK then played somewhere else – I think at Freedom Hall. Then the next year we always played UL at Freedom Hall. It was a big deal for a bit, but then devolved into IU and UK only after a few years. So these UK admins and coaches don’t exactly have their history right – I’m betting IU would not have ever gone off campus if not for the idea of the four team doubleheader filling the dome.

  • Hoosier4life67

    Kentucky is a joke. They think there better than everyone else and that just isnt true. This is college basketball where you play games at your schools courts. Just because UK thinks there above everyone else doesnt mean IU has to do what they want. I’m glad IU didnt choose to play at a neutral site. UK is all about there image and they know that this year they most likely would have lost to IU at home and blown there home win streak record. Well UK, Your record should stay good since your cowards.

  • Derbus

    TRAVESTY! Yes, it is as the IU-pUKe game was tradition and I have just lost ALL respect for Calipari. He knows IU is now in the elite and will be the (or among the) premier team(s) from the midwest for years to come.

    OK Cal, we’ll catch u in the tourney after u have a few months to get your ‘greenhorn’ recruits dialed in. Won’t matter, cuz it’s CLOBBERIN’ TIME!!!

    I bet there is a clause in his contract for a bonus if he keeps their home win streak alive?! I think he gets free tobacco, moonshine for a year, a few lbs of Kentucky’s #1 crop – pot, and gets a hayride to the prom with his sister or was it his mother. Either way, he ain’t gonna looze @ home, speshully to them dabburn pesky HOOshers.

  • mkclass2011

    Its just not about money with us…it means more….you cant compromise who you are for the sake of a dollar, we have enough to go around…just is what it is

  • Hawg49Pan

    Poor pUKe, how will they ever make enough to pay their player salaries playing at Rupp !

  • Hawg49Pan

    Poor pUKe, how will they ever make enough to pay their player salaries playing at Rupp !

  • jahhoosier

    Indiana fired Kelvin Sampson and so thoroughly expunged everything…well, Kentucky-like, that he brought to the program that it amounted to a self-induced death penalty.

    Kentucky just gave John Calipari a raise and thereby made itself even more…well, Kentucky-like.

    The difference in those two philosophies is why Indiana doesn’t need to be playing Kentucky at the present time.

    As I said, when Calipari has left Kentucky holding a bag of probationary sanctions like he has the other programs he has coached, and yet another Final Four(s) is/are vacated, then the series should resume. Until then, Indiana should lend its name to games with programs, such as Kansas, that are not so…well, Kentucky-like.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Greg-Walters/1102221241 Greg Walters

    Fired him after the fact is the only solution IU had, it’s not like they had a choice. You should look up KU’s history of NCAA rule breaking before you start crowing about them. Cal has been implicated in nothing by the way, if other peoples rule violations brings someone else down it’s called collateral damage. A high school kid cheats to get a higher ACT and one hire’s an agent before he leaves college has nothing to do with the college of their choice. People will hate for any reason they can find, I guess this is yours. While your hating you might as well start in on Crean, he’s BFF’s w/Cal. By the way Ky just named a Dorm after the Pres. Roselle he was the Ky Pres at the time and oversaw the internal investigation of Ky’s rules violations, he cleaned house till it hurt! Ky is squeaky clean. Do you honestly think Ky isn’t under a microscope? However you feel about the decision to stop the series is fine, however it’s our loss, we the fans, not just IU and KY but college basketball period. To bad the grown ups couldn’t act like Pro’s and do a little give and taking and keep the series alive.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Greg-Walters/1102221241 Greg Walters

    Fired him after the fact is the only solution IU had, it’s not like they had a choice. You should look up KU’s history of NCAA rule breaking before you start crowing about them. Cal has been implicated in nothing by the way, if other peoples rule violations brings someone else down it’s called collateral damage. A high school kid cheats to get a higher ACT and one hire’s an agent before he leaves college has nothing to do with the college of their choice. People will hate for any reason they can find, I guess this is yours. While your hating you might as well start in on Crean, he’s BFF’s w/Cal. By the way Ky just named a Dorm after the Pres. Roselle he was the Ky Pres at the time and oversaw the internal investigation of Ky’s rules violations, he cleaned house till it hurt! Ky is squeaky clean. Do you honestly think Ky isn’t under a microscope? However you feel about the decision to stop the series is fine, however it’s our loss, we the fans, not just IU and KY but college basketball period. To bad the grown ups couldn’t act like Pro’s and do a little give and taking and keep the series alive.

  • Hoosier Forest

    After reading all this hooey I have decided it would be more fun to beat Kentucky in the big dance than on their home floor next year.

  • marcusgresham

    If a kid from Chicago can’t pass the SAT in Chicago but mystically does so when he takes it in Detroit (there wasn’t anywhere closer that was giving the SAT that day?) I’m pretty sure I, as a coach, would see massive warning signs and back off that kid…unless I was the kind of guy who’s willing to accept improprieties around me if they don’t become directly connected to me and I benefit from the results. It’s kind of like buying stolen merchandise.

  • Hoosy

    I’m living in Lexington and getting all the good gossip. Check out what happened recently: http://thequad.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/08/cartoonist-courts-ire-of-kentucky-fans/

  • Hoosier_97

    I have the perfect compromise: On IU’s year the game is in assembly hall with the IU fans, on Kentucky’s year the can have it in Dallas Cowboy stadium if they want (wherever they can make the most money). This way both sides get what they want.

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