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Six Days In, New Wake Coach Steve Forbes Gets Kentucky Fans Riled Up

This hire could be fun

East Tennessee State v Kansas
LAWRENCE, KANSAS - NOVEMBER 19: Head coach Steve Forbes of the East Tennessee State Buccaneers directs his team against the Kansas Jayhawks during the first half at Allen Fieldhouse on November 19, 2019 in Lawrence, Kansas.
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

It didn't take long for folks to realize that new Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes is pretty different from his predecessor Danny Manning.

If you didn’t get it from his spiking his ugly Covid-19 mask after new boss Wake Forest A.D. John Currie tossed him his whistle and, metaphorically the keys to the program, you should have after his comments about Wake Forest and Kentucky Tuesday.

Forbes was interviewed on a radio show and spoke about Demon Deacons center Olivier Saar, who is considering transferring and who, not surprisingly, has been courted not just by the Kentucky coaching staff but by Big Blue Nation online as well.

Forbes just doesn’t care. He said something to Saar and then repeated it on the interview. We have seen it mentioned several times online but haven’t seen the exact quote. However, this should be close enough to make the point: “why would you want to go to Wake Forest for three years and then graduate from a place like Kentucky?”

As you can imagine, that has not gone over well with BBN. Matt Jones, of Kentucky Sports Radio, posted this snarky response, which is Forbes’ intro video at Wake Forest and this text: “This is the dude talking trash about Kentucky. This dude.....”

Jones opts for cheap hits and misses the main points about this response.

The first thing anyone should realize/remember is that Forbes spent time at Tennessee and so has a proper SEC regard for Kentucky basketball. He’s not some young waif making a foolish mistake.

That’s actually secondary though.

The main thing?

The guy is not interested in impressing anyone outside of his own fan base, where his fans are delighted. They’ve wanted some of this action for a long time.

Pot shots at Kentucky are easy though. Granted, you have to put up with BBN getting weird. Remember when Kentucky fans went after referee John Higgins after a loss to UNC in the 2017 NCAA Tournament? After that game, John Calipari told ESPN “[y]ou know, it’s amazing that we were in that game where they practically fouled out my team. Amazing that we had a chance.”

The Kentucky fan base went wild, and not in a good way.

Higgins actually filed a federal suit against KSR for sharing his personal and business information online and on the air as well. The judge dismissed it on free speech grounds, but said this, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal: “...while Higgins’ frustration is understandable and the damages real, ‘in some instances the First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides special protection to speech on matters of public concern, even if that speech is revolting and upsetting.’”

Winding up the Kentucky fans, as fun as it can be (trust us on this), is pretty harmless for Wake Forest. They’re not likely to see Kentucky anytime soon. To the best of our knowledge, they’ve only played Kentucky three times since 1990, all in the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky beat Wake in 1993, 1996 and 2010.

The last regular season meeting was in 1963, the year after Wake went to the Final Four, which was held in Louisville. Kentucky won that one easily too. The only other meeting between the schools was in 1953, which Kentucky also won.

We’ll be interested to see if Forbes is as aggressive in the ACC as he has been about the Wildcats because talking smack around here will have consequences.

On the other hand, we’ve talked at times about how the ACC has gotten bland in recent years. With the arrival of Forbes, things may get a bit saltier.