I suppose a complete lack of respect for Tennessee should be nothing new or the fact that when it comes to big-time awards, those who aren't part of Big Orange Nation have this sliding scale or adjustable criteria for what merits who should win the award. In this case, I'm referring to the almost criminal stupidity of two-thirds of the SEC coaches who realize that Bruce Pearl owns their asses and will for years to come and couldn't put their own egos aside long enough to realize that he deserves to be the coach of the year in the league and not share the honor with Billie Gillespie from Kentucky.
Here's the thing that really ticks me off. When I hear UK supporters calling in to defend the selection of Gillespie, they talk about how he did less with more and that after their bad start, it's a miracle they went 12-4 in the SEC. (And it is a miracle...make no mistake about it.) But if you bring up the fact that not only did the Vols go 14-2 and have a better outside of the conference schedule and record, they suddenly scream you can't count that. Ummmmmmmmmm, wait just one minute while I parse the lack of logic there. We can consider UK's out of conference craptastic record and factor that in when it comes to voting for Gillespie or showing why he deserves the award but we can't look at the fact that Bruce Pearl played a tougher out of conference schedule, went on the road to Memphis and Gonzaga, beating both of them among a lot of other good, quality teams. Oh but we can't factor in the fact Memphis was number one when UT beat them and that game was easily bigger than any game that's taken place in the state of Kentucky in the past five years. (There, I said it...deal with it UK fans).
Then, if you look at the SEC schedule, you'll see that UT went on the road, only losing two games. Yes, one of them was to Kentucky, but let me also point out that when it comes to road games, Kentucky got their asses handed to them by Vanderbilt here in Music City. I think y'all lost by 40. Oh, but they turned it around at that point, it was a wake-up call, they all say. Yes, such a wake-up call that the Vols still managed to beat you guys. Oh but Gillespie had a game plan to beat Tennessee at home and almost did. Well, you almost beat us, but you didn't. Last I looked, we won the game. We defended home court, we won on the road and we delivered on the expectations that were set for us. Bruce Pearl took a team that was supposed to win and did that. He created a new excitement and enthusiasm for basketball in this state. His team had a hell of an end-of-season schedule, playing a lot of rivals down the stretch and he kept the team focused enough to only lose one game in that stretch.
He's coach of the year, pure and simple. He shouldn't have to share the honor with Gillespie, who quite frankly, did little to deserve the honor. Again, I point out that crappy December (which if you follow UK fan logic, we can consider for UK but can't look at UT's out of conference record) and the fact that you got your asses handed to you by Vanderbilt. On national TV. Oh yeah, we forgot that part. On an ESPN showcase game where it was pretty much over by ten minutes into the game. That loss alone should disqualify anyone from even being considered for coach of the year.
But, I'm a UT fan. And there are some who think that if we complain or call something unfair, we're just being arrogant or acting entitled. Heaven forbid that I want my team to get the honors and accolodes they have EARNED this year.
But you have a whole bunch of coaches who see the writing on the wall--Bruce Pearl has elevated the SEC, he's made UT a power and this isn't going to be some blip on the radar that will soon go away.
It just irritates the fire out of me...and don't even get me started on the insanity of bracketologists who question if UT should be a number one seed or not....
Labels: tennessee basketball
posted by Michael Hickerson at 3/12/2008 08:31:00 PM