Naturally, Kentucky coach John Calipari heard the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics' complaints, immediately realized the error of his ways and got down to scheduling every big-time nonconference game on UK's schedule as a campus-bound home and home series.
Only kidding, kids. What happened Wednesday night -- when Calipari released a blog post on his website detailing his schedule plans for the next two seasons -- was pretty much the exact opposite of that.
Calipari says he wants to schedule not just games but "experiences," "events that grandfathers and grandsons will be talking about 25 years from now." Among the noteworthy items:
In 2013-14, Kentucky will play Baylor in a men's-women's doubleheader in Cowboys Stadium, a game which he hopes breaks the collegiate hoops attendance record. Baylor will "return" that game this season at Rupp Arena, which is kind of funny, considering Cowboys Stadium is a neutral site and Rupp Arena is not. Cal wins on that front, as well as the whole "experience" bit, and even better gets to play a game at the site of the Final Four in 2013-14. Win-win-win.
Speaking of which, that will be the second straight year UK will have a big nonconference game at the site of the Final Four; 2012-13's will come against Duke in the Champions Classic at the Georgia Dome.
Why all the football arenas? His explanation: "It is important that we play in at least one if not two football stadiums every year to prepare our players for NCAA tournament venues. ... I’m convinced we would have won the title two seasons ago if we would have played in a dome during the regular season. Our guys weren’t prepared for it." Oh really? Jim Calhoun may beg to differ.
And speaking of Duke, as Robbi noted over at the UNC blog, Calipari says he's "currently in conversations with Coach K of Duke for a multiyear, neutral-based series that will be played around the country in the best facilities ... [and] would take place on the same weekend every year and would be THE GAME to watch."
UK is taking a one-year break with UNC in 2012, but looks likely to restart the series in 2013-14. Calipari wants to alternate the UNC and Louisville series, so that when one game is at home, the other is on the road, and vice versa.
This isn't noteworthy so much as funny: The first comment on Calipari's blog post is from UK associate AD Dewayne Peevy, who writes, "We've been busy." We can't get Dewayne his own blog? A separate post, at least? Poor guy.
Anyway, you get the idea. The whole Kentucky-Indiana mess still grinds my gears, and I would argue most fans would prefer a few more nonconference events on campuses, with real, actual college environments -- real student sections, pep bands, banners hanging on the walls and rafters, the whole nine yards. That's what makes college basketball different, and often more exciting, than anything the NBA has to offer in the regular season. That's what makes college basketball what it is. The sterility of neutral-court sites -- like the corporatized plasticity of Jerry Jones's gigantic HD theater room -- undermines that romance. It just does.
But that's not Calipari's prerogative. As he makes very clear, he is interested in creating capital-E Events. Much of his schedule in the coming two seasons will do exactly that. You might not like it, but on all matters scheduling, the man is sticking to his (rather sizable) guns.