Summing Up The Season

Tony Vanetti: Let me start this week. You gave Louisville a hard time last week about senior night and then you turn around and play one of the biggest games you’ve had this season, and it’s not much more full than Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium was.

Matt Jones: The problem with Louisville’s attendance is the fact that you’re 11-1. Now, I can guarantee you if Kentucky was 10-1 going into the final game of the year, it would be packed. Look, Kentucky has better attendance than you would think with their record, but it’s still not great. However, the problem with Louisville attendance is your fans are obviously spoiled when it comes to football. When you have just a handful of people on senior day when you’re that good, it’s absurd.

Vanetti: Duly noted. But Louisville had Memphis. You had Tennessee. This is your biggest game-

Jones: Hold on, it is a terrible Tennessee team-

Vanetti: EXACTLY!! (there is yelling at this point) You had a chance to beat Tennessee. The one victory Kentucky had in football in the SEC was against Tennessee.

Jones: Now, now, let’s do some facts instead of just yelling. Kentucky has not won a conference game in two years. The last time a BCS team did that was 1982 / 1983, so they’ve been awful and the fans know they’re awful. But there’s a broader problem about attendance everywhere and in every sport. I mean, when Alabama football is having attendance trouble and Duke basketball and Kentucky basketball are having student attendance problems, that’s an issue and it’s something the colleges have got to figure out. It is no longer the case that you can kick the ball off and expect people to come. And that’s just changed. It has changed quickly, like, in the last two or three years.

Vanetti: What’s the disconnect between the youngsters and the event? Is it just that they can’t get on their devices for three or four hours?

Jones: I think that’s part of it, yes. I do think it is. It seems stupid to people older. But look, I’m on my phone a lot, and then I look at people younger than me and they don’t ever not look at their phone. But also, there’s just a lot more options for things to do. With attention spans the way they are now, people want to be entertained constantly and if your football game is not an elite level game, then people do something else.

Vanetti: All right, moving on. Kentucky looks to be trending up in basketball. Willie Cauley-Stein had the type of game you’d expect him to have this year in the preseason.

Jones: They are clicking well. I mean, that Willie Cauley-Stein game was a better game than I ever expected him to have. Period. They looked great at Providence. They won by 15. But Providence had a kid that just went nuts or they would have won by 30. Also, that Providence team is a good team that’s a potential NCAA tournament team, so I was pleased with the way they played up there. It was an excellent game – especially when you consider that they didn’t get a ton of production from Randle or Andrew Harrison. They still have some worries about defending the perimeter, but you know with Kentucky – it’s all about consistency. Here’s what I think is going to happen with UK by the end of the season: UK at their best is going to end up being better than any other team. The question for Kentucky will be, can they play close to their best a lot just like the 2012 team did. In 2010 with the John Wall team, when they were their best, they were better than any other team in the country. But they weren’t consistent. And to win a title, you play six games – and you know this, it has happened to Louisville and they won in some ways because they were the most consistently good team – but it’s not so much about when you hit your peak, but about how you play when you’re playing your worst.

Vanetti: Louisville again, holding steady at number seven in the country, a couple spots behind Kentucky. You don’t know much about this Louisville basketball team or program just yet. They’ve got some pieces back together, but until they play somebody, it’s tough to make a call.

Jones: I don’t know what to think about this Louisville team yet. And I think we’re going to have this issue all year because it looks like they’re going to be one of those teams that beats the heck out of teams they’re better than and then maybe struggles against everybody else. The problem is they don’t play very many games to judge them on. From now on through the season they’ll play Kentucky, Connecticut, they’ll play Memphis and that’s about it.

Vanetti: But if you have a team that has that schedule and can get away with it, then it’s a better team that has been through the wars before.

Jones: This isn’t a judgment about whether or not they will be good, it’s a judgment on the fact that it is going to be hard to judge them at all. You’re going to go into the tournament and we’re not going to know what they are. They’re probably going to get a one or two seed – at the worst – because they’re going to have a great record but I don’t know if we’re going to know actually how good they are because they don’t have games – just like the football team that’s going to make it clear what kind of team they really are. At least with basketball, the trash talk is of two teams on equal levels. On another note, what do you make of your guy Clint Hurtt doing what I always say? Never punch down. You’ve got an 11-1 football team talking trash to a 2-10 football team.

Vanetti: Well, I’m just glad we got you to admit that you’re the little brother in the football scenario.

Jones: Well of course they are. You’d be ridiculous to think Kentucky is on equal footing in football.

Vanetti: Listen, I’ve met Clint Hurtt. I’ve interviewed Clint Hurtt. He seems like a very intelligent man and this was not something that I would expect from him. I cannot believe he would put that on his Facebook. He has got to be smarter than that. He is a coach that I’ve always thought – before this mess – that he could be a head coach. He is dynamic, he’s a great coach and an unbelievable recruiter. He’s just the type of guy that could be a head coach. But these are the type of things that you certainly cannot do.

Jones: I mean Tony, what is going on over there?

Vanetti: Well, you know what they say, you’re not working hard if you’re not making some mistakes, and what they do down on Floyd Street is just get after it every single day. People make mistakes. No one is perfect, Matt, so they are just down there slugging it out and trying to make it the best they can and you’re going to hit some speed bumps along the way.

Jones: (laughing) That’s beautiful. Let me just say on the Clint Hurtt topic: it’s really dumb. Part of why he does that is that while they are winning on the field, Louisville is losing in recruiting to Kentucky. A lot. And they are probably perplexed as to why that’s happening. But you’ve got to be smarter than that. You just gave them bullets and board material, and I can guarantee you the UK coaches look at that and say “all right, we’ll remember  that.” And regardless of whether it was true or accurate – because there is some truth to it – it’s just dumb.

Vanetti: You can’t answer to the idiot UK fans.

Jones: That’s like the people saying, “Hey Tony Vanetti, your radio show stinks. It’s the worst!” And then you coming back and saying “You know what? Your high school podcast is the worst thing I’ve ever heard.”

Vanetti: Again, he should not have said it, but it’s not too bad when you want to talk about raising the level of the contentious ceiling between the two coaching staffs. When John Elway and Mumme were here it was an all-time high that those two guys did not like each other. And it was great, so maybe it will start something good for us.

Jones: I like when the coaches hate each other. I hope they continue to hate each other. And I hope you all continue to do stupid stuff. You’ve given me a month of great material with one ignorant mistake after another and I hope it continues.