Indiana makes right call in ending Kentucky series

  • 05/04/2012 7:30 am in

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.

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  • mrjonessodaandme

    No surprise here, but you and your father got this right. While the rest of the media is out pouting and screaming foul, two Hoosier grads managed to use reason to right well-thought out articles on the situation.

    Bravo. Great work.

  • Joe B.

    Don’t go and try to explain this logic to a UK fan. They’ll just say we are scared and that they have never stormed the court, ever. Well, I guess Hoosiers fans just have more passion. Dollar bills, like always, driving the decisions process in Lexington.

  • Joe B.

    Don’t go and try to explain this logic to a UK fan. They’ll just say we are scared and that they have never stormed the court, ever. Well, I guess Hoosiers fans just have more passion. Dollar bills, like always, driving the decisions process in Lexington.

  • IU Brad

    Completely disagree – both sides are equally at blame. They were only willing to have it their way and no give or take (a lot like our Congress). How about continuing four-year pacts with 2 games on campuses and 2 neutral games?

  • KAPONYA

    IU should go ahead with Kansas ,and perhaps UCLA … Games with UNC then eventually Duke will take care of themselves within the B10/ACC Challenge

  • KAPONYA

    When IU rises to become the premier program in college basdketball this season Kentucky might feel slighted enough to back down & resume in 2013-14 …IF not then the coach who takes over at UK after the NCAA finally catches coach Cal doing the dirty – will want to endear himself to their fans during the rebuild by resuming with IU..Hahaha

  • fozzydog

    Good article Alex. I’m sorry to see the series end but never seemed like we were going to see eye to eye with KY including the current KY coaching staff. I also believe IU didn’t want to give KY any potential edge in recruiting Indianapolis and KY didn’t want to play us and risk losing more often in their own region of the country.

  • fozzydog

    Good article Alex. I’m sorry to see the series end but never seemed like we were going to see eye to eye with KY including the current KY coaching staff. I also believe IU didn’t want to give KY any potential edge in recruiting Indianapolis and KY didn’t want to play us and risk losing more often in their own region of the country.

  • jahhoosier

    Well said.

    My own feelings are the kinds a responsible journalist cannot use as the subject of an article. Kentucky has always represented the dark side of college basketball, with its long history of illegal cheating. Now, with Calipari, it represents something far worse: the dark side of college basketball that is perfectly legal. Kentucky represents the professionalization of the game.

    Indiana should not play a role in that. We would have, if we’d have continued with this game. That is true under any circumstance. It is especially true under this circumstance, when Kentucky’s demands were to move the game away from campus sites (professionalization) for more money (professionalization).

    I’ll hate seeing the game go by the bye, because of the tradition. But a John Calipari team has nothing to do with tradition, but with the worst of the new. When he’s gone, and Kentucky is back on probation, renew the series.

    Until then, a series with Kansas would be just wonderful. William Tell. Rock Chalk Jayhawk. Two student bodies, and two sets of fans, would get to see what college ball is supposed to be about.

  • IU Mike 73

    We are men’s baseketball season ticket holders. We were at the Kentucky game. That game was what college basketball is all about. The students and the crowd were as loud as I have ever heard. Yes, we cheered. Yes, the students were celebrating in the streets of Bloomington, but they were there just enjoying the win- not being destructive. I never really liked when IU played Kentucky in Indy and the stadium was divided in half. I appreciate to no end Coach Crean and Fred Glass wanting to keep the games on campus.

  • Devout Hoosier

    This is absolutely wrong and absurd, both sides are to blame equally.
    Since 1969. That goes beyond any recent Coaches or Athletic Directors. Find compromise and allow these two border rivalry schools to meet and play. Indiana & Kentucky should play basketball.

  • SeattleHoosier

    What exactly was this “unjust fan behavior in Bloomington”? I didn’t hear anything about it.

  • SeattleHoosier

    What exactly was this “unjust fan behavior in Bloomington”? I didn’t hear anything about it.

  • MopLady

    Mr. Bozich,

    I usually agree with you, but on this, I do not. Although playing at home would be ideal, they are the champs, and we could’ve compromised by going to Lucas Oil for both games and then gone back to home games. They compromise to have both games in Indy, and we did not meet in the middle to continue this great series. Nobody is a winner now, especially IU in the face of public opinion. Hopefully this doesn’t negatively impact recruits opinions.

  • tdw

    UK wants to be in Indy for recruiting purposes – we don’t want them in there.

  • tdw

    UK wants to be in Indy for recruiting purposes – we don’t want them in there.

  • BKLock

    I support Glass and Crean in their decision to keep the series home and home. However, being right doesn’t make it any less disappointing. It is still a series that needs to be played annually. Football and basketball have their great non-conference rivalries and IU vs UK is in the top ten on that list (at the top of the list for many IU fans).

    Disappointed, yes. Nevertheless, I anxiously await the renewal of this great rivalry!

  • Beard

    I have to respectfully disagree that it is best IU stood their ground and now there will not be an IU-Kentucky game. I am approaching 40 years of age and there has been a game every year of my life. Some have been in Assembly Hall, some in Rupp, some in the Hoosier Dome, some in Freedom Hall. As a fan, I prefer the home courts BUT it is not worth losing the series over no matter where they play. Nationally speaking most pundits would agree that this is probably the second best rivalry in college basketball (only slightly behind Duke-UNC). All these “newcomers” to the series (Crean, Calipari, Glass, and Barnhart) need to holster their egos and listen to their paying customers. THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT. If you surveyed IU fans and Kentucky fans with the question of “Do you want to have the series continued no matter what or do you only want to see it in the manner that your school prefers (for IU on campus and for UK off campus)?” I would be willing to bet that more than 90% of respondents on both sides would prefer that the series continue no matter what. What does everyone else think of these two options?

  • Tom S

    Even if it’s true that they suggested playing both games at Lucas Oil – and Kentucky’s AD seems to say it’s not – both games in Indy is not a compromise. With tickets being split both games in Indy wouldn’t make the court any less neutral.
    And Calipari has made it clear that home games, at any point, were not an option. So there was no “middle” to meet in – either Indiana gave Kentucky what they wanted, or the series ended. I hate to see the series end, but Glass and Crean made a wise decision.

  • NormW

    The IU administration has done the right thing by not allowing the bully mentality of Kentucky to prevail. There is no compelling reason to change the current setup other than money and perhaps a little fear of playing in Bloomington. While it is and will be a disappointment to many of the fans, another game will replace that one and things will go on. Well done Fred Glass and Tom Crean

  • SoFreshSoCrean

    At the very base of the argument, how could the team that wants to keep the series “as is,” have any blame? It’s a pure business decision, and the positives of UK getting want they want far outweighed any positives IU would have gotten from moving the series to netral sites. In fact for IU, the negatives far outweigh the positives. So, how can you fault IU for making the right business decicsion.

  • SoFreshSoCrean

    At the very base of the argument, how could the team that wants to keep the series “as is,” have any blame? It’s a pure business decision, and the positives of UK getting want they want far outweighed any positives IU would have gotten from moving the series to netral sites. In fact for IU, the negatives far outweigh the positives. So, how can you fault IU for making the right business decicsion.

  • TokyoSteve

    I am disappointed that the IU-UK series is
    ending, but Indiana made the right call. First, from a fidelity standpoint, IU’s
    emphasis on student participation is spot on, particularly given the praise
    that Coach Crean has expressed to those who stuck with the program through the
    lean years. But just as important to me is the strategic aspect: we would cede
    a significant recruiting advantage by playing games at neutral sites. Indiana
    high school basketball dominates Kentucky high school basketball. Historically,
    Indiana’s high school all-stars have roughly doubled the number of wins of
    their Kentucky counterparts and in recent years have quite often swept the
    2-game series. So, in terms of recruiting, UK has much more to gain from
    neutral site games in Indiana than IU does from neutral site games in Kentucky.
    Think about it: Assembly Hall is not a place Kentucky wants to invite the
    Indiana prep players it is targeting. But a game in Indy, with fans split 50-50,
    is a great chance for UK to access the Indiana prep goldmine. In return, what is
    the potential benefit to IU from a game in Louisville, even if IU wins? For
    that matter, even if we win there regularly? There just aren’t that many
    Kentucky prep players we’d be interested in. To be sure, games (wins) at Rupp would
    not increase the Kentucky talent pool for us. The sole difference, and it is
    huge, is what UK would get out of a move from Assembly Hall to Indy, and Calipari
    is clever to try to get us to forfeit some of our home-turf recruiting advantage.
    We should all be pleased that Coach Crean and A.D. Glass are all over this strategic
    aspect.

  • DSHoosier

    This game has been on a neutral site for years, and it should return to being an equal match-up. I am a huge supporter of Glass and Creen, but they made the wrong decision. I have been to several of the neutral -site games and they are electric. A line down the middle of the stands, one-side blue, the other red. The greatest game every year. This is a shame.

  • Who Cares!

    Who cares…..in a year or two Calipari will be gone…The tropies will be returned to the NCAA…and UK will be on probation forever…….and oh yes Calipari will resurface at another college.
    I heard that Cupcake U has an opening on their schedule…….Grab it Cal before Boeheim beats you to it.

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    If anything, two games in Lucas Oil Stadium would’ve been exactly what Kentucky wanted: more money. And as others have mentioned, it would give them an annual presence in Indianapolis, so they would have a better shot at our recruits. Gross.

    As Tom S said, playing in Indy would not be a compromise — they’d end up getting everything that they wanted: neutral court, tons of money, presence in Indy. What would IU get? Money. That’s not a compromise.

  • DarkSouth

    Brad, that wasn’t the offer. UK refused campus game. Callipari has done this before arriving at UK when he schedules, it’s not a new policy for him.

    Compromise is overrated. Don’t let the terrorists win.

  • DarkSouth

    Didn’t the Big Ten and Pac-12 announce a deal last year about working together on scheduling games in the next couple of years? I think it was for both football and basketball.

  • Thalweg

    pUKe fans are now chirping that next year they Cal will schedule a game against Notre Dame or PUke at Lucas Oil. They claim Cal always gets what he wants and will get into Indy no matter what. The arrogance of that fan base is almost sickening. I am so glad that someone stood up to them, and I am even happier it was Glass and Crean that did it.

  • BHoos

    Some Kentucky fan rolled her ankle and fell down when the students were rushing the court. She was sitting in the IU student section BTW. I’m pretty sure the only reason it got any coverage is she is an ex-playmate.

  • jermhoosierfan

    Let them beat the crap out of PUke or Notre Dame. It will not have the prestige of playing IU. They are in the Big Ten and Big East, but they have no history with those schools. There will not be the satisfaction of beating them as there would be with beating a reborn IU. Screw pUKe.

  • jermhoosierfan

    Let them beat the crap out of PUke or Notre Dame. It will not have the prestige of playing IU. They are in the Big Ten and Big East, but they have no history with those schools. There will not be the satisfaction of beating them as there would be with beating a reborn IU. Screw pUKe.

  • InTheMtns

    Beard, UK did, in fact, poll their fans at the beginning of the season. Calipari wanted to drop one of their non-conference games and asked the fans which one they wanted to drop. The UK fans voted, by a fairly large margin, to drop the IU game. Granted that that was at the beginning of the season and they might feel differently now, but I don’t think you’d get your 90%.

  • Thalweg

    Yeah, they have worked out a deal for all sports to play each other out of conference. The B1G and the Pac12 have always had a great relationship because of the Rose Bowl and now they have decided to work together to help their conferences be the best athletically as well as academically with cross sharing of ideas and research. I think it was a great move and should pay great dividends in the future.

  • SeattleHoosier

    thanks. seems like a non-issue. not sure why Calipari would do this. Oh well.

  • DarkSouth

    UK was seeking to use IU, in my mind, for recruiting purposes. IU wouldn’t get the benefits from the arrangement that UK would. No doubt UK fans would have been happy with the Indy only games. However, I think many IU fans are disappointed but understanding of the situation.

  • HoosierDadE

    Obviously biased…
    But I don’t know how the series could have continued at neutral sites. Where in Kentucky could the game be played? Freedom Hall is deteriorating and there is no way U of L would have allowed the series to be played that the Yum Center.
    And according the pUKe fans, IU is the only place where fans are “mean” to the opposing team.

  • HoosierDadE

    Obviously biased…
    But I don’t know how the series could have continued at neutral sites. Where in Kentucky could the game be played? Freedom Hall is deteriorating and there is no way U of L would have allowed the series to be played that the Yum Center.
    And according the pUKe fans, IU is the only place where fans are “mean” to the opposing team.

  • DarkSouth

    Makes sense. By far the two best academic power conferences, maybe in D1 outside the Ivy. No geographic overlap to stir up recruiting issues. Both offer access to distant major markets. Smart deal.

  • 323SGrant

    I was looking forward to seeing IU snap UK’s home winning streak. Smart money says Calipari was afraid of that happening.

  • TomEke

    I’m very glad the series ended with a win for IU in assembly hall. I am still pissed the tournament committee set UK up on a crash course for redemption in the tournament, giving UK the satisfaction of “being able to get IU when it mattered”. Big mistake on the tournament’s part last year in my opinion. I never like to see teams have to play 2 times in a season.

  • TomEke

    I’m very glad the series ended with a win for IU in assembly hall. I am still pissed the tournament committee set UK up on a crash course for redemption in the tournament, giving UK the satisfaction of “being able to get IU when it mattered”. Big mistake on the tournament’s part last year in my opinion. I never like to see teams have to play 2 times in a season.

  • calbert40

    I think that Cal is willing to play every year at Lucas Oil, because he wants to use the game to aid in recruiting the fertile grounds of Indianapolis.

    Let’s face the facts: IU doesn’t recruit much into Kentucky. I know we have Abell now, but we do not get many Kentucky recruits to come here, traditionally. However, the Indianapolis area is so rich in talent right now, and IU is mining the gold better than anyone else currently.

    If Cal can get a blue chip here and there from Indy (Teague), he can help his program at the same time he hurts UK’s possible biggest rival. Win-Win for Cal and UK. I understand he can recruit in Indy right now too, but I believe that having a game in Indy every year would only help UK get more roots in an area that we currently are owning.

    I will miss the game, but I think Glass and CTC made the right decision.

  • IrishHoosier

    Cal would do this because Cal is interested in making Cal look better. He wants Indiana recruits. Playing the game in Indianapolis allows him to bring his perpetually freshman team into a far less hostile environment where they have a much better chance of winning in front of Indiana recruits. Thus Cal gets better recruits out of Indianapolis, Kentucky wins more games, and, most importantly, Cal looks like a better coach. If they play in Bloomington, his freshman team will always have trouble winning and Indiana kidgrow up wanting to play for IU.

  • Classof73_N1Fan

    Ky has a 50 game winning streak on the line at Rupp Arena. Who
    would want to play next years hoosiers with that win streak on the line. The
    game would have been played in Rupp Arena.
    Purdue was invited to the pre NCAA playoffs.

    John Woodens team was the best in the country at the time
    and his coach Piggy Lambert declined the invitation because the games would be
    played in Madison
    Square Garden.

    Coach Lambert said, and rightfully so, that the games were for the students.

    I hate purdue but I am convinced they did the right thing. Now
    Coach Crean is showing the same resolve and I respect him highly for it.

    John Wooden went on to refuse two NCAA invitations while at Indiana State because of the way black players
    were treated at the time.
    The world would be a better place if we had more John
    Woodens and Tom Creans.

    Thank you Coach Crean. You definitely made the right decision.

  • plane1972

    Great post!

  • plane1972

    Good post, Beard. Your point about ego warfare at the expense of tradition is very insightful. I think you may be right, but I do believe that IU values this tradition more than Kentucky does, at least right now. Now that both programs are on a more level footing and the rivalry more balanced than in the recent past, that was probably about to change.
    Personally, I don’t think this rivalry will ever truly die. I think it is on hiatus until cooler heads can prevail and both sides realize what they are missing by not playing one another. And when it comes back, it will come back with a vengeance. We just need to let it rest for a few years and you’ll probably see another long run.

  • MopLady

    If we are as great as we think we are, beating their pants in Indy would not help UK, but hurt them and help us. I’d prefer to play them on the moon than no where at all. We could beat them anywhere, and being afraid for UK establishing a potential recruiting advantage in Indy is a strategy based on fear and not confidence. If we beat them two years in a row in Indy, how does that help them and hurt us??? Fear of UK influence in Indy when we should beat them over the course of however many years totally lacks SWAG. And intelligence.

  • plane1972

    Not an equal matchup on a neutral court when IU brings Lucas Oil to the table and UK brings a dilapidated Freedom Hall. Indianapolis is a much more valuable recruiting area to UK than Louisville is to IU. Neutral court favors UK heavily. I support this move even if it comes at the cost of tradition.

  • 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?