Jodie Meeks just completed his paperwork and was handed the keys. Bruce Pearl was thoroughly embarrassed, and not because of the orange blazer. We get a fantastic road victory, which will get better once Tennessee starts out-talenting most of the SEC.
And I keep reading, "we made Sportscenter! We made SportsCenter!"
I know how the argument develops. National exposure is great for recruiting; which is why Coach Gillispie took a trip to Bristol a few weeks back. But the recruiting benefits seem to be secondary to what some of us seeming really want: Validation. Showing up at the top of SportsCenter validates that Kentucky matters as a major program. As though Kentucky has somehow turned into the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Evidently in our lowly state, Kentucky needs all the exposure and coverage it can get.
Wait. What did former Panthers' coach (and current Tennessee coach) Bruce Pearl say before yesterday's game?
Right now Jody (sic) Meeks and Patrick Patterson are among the top five players in the SEC. Remember: Kentucky is still Kentucky. They still get their pick of players. Probably only Scotty Hopson and Tyler Smith second time around were recruited by Kentucky. Everybody they have is there because he (sic) was one of the best high school players in the country.
Okay, we know Brucey is playing the underdog card just a big too much here. But at the same time, he has a point. Kentucky will always be THE team of the SEC. We will still be the big-named school that lower-tiered ACC/Big-12/PAC-10 teams would KILL to schedule. We might drop out of the series with UNC, and pick up a series with Kansas. For better or worse, we'll always end up on national TV in December and January.
No disrespect to those gleefully basking in the national exposure. But I don't understand why it seems some members of the Big Blue Nation needs external validation to fuel our pride. I don't need Scott Van Pelt's witty commentary to "show the world" that my team in legit. Kentucky's program is too big, and too important to us Big Blue fans, for it to be anything BUT a national power. Clip packages and a post on Deadspin just reinforces what people already know about Kentucky basketball.
We fans should be confident in the fact that Kentucky was important then, now, and will be in the future. We aren't Lisa Simpson during the Teacher's Strike. "Grade me! Grade me!" *Norby writes A+ on our Tennessee Volunteer essay* "Aaaahhhh!"
Its great to share in the Wildcats' victory, and seeing highlights over and over during the sports news cycle is fun. But I don't need any national sports writer or program to validate my feeling for the team.
A few top-25 votes would be nice, though....
If you think I'm wrong, feel free to let me have it in the comments. Or you can validate my opinion with praise! Either or.