As we’ve suggested recently, Kentucky’s slow start - the
Wildcats Mildcats are just 1-6 is not going to go over well with the fans.
The first line of criticism, blogs and newspapers, have been fairly tempered although certainly dismayed. Big Blue Nation is a different thing altogether.
Kentucky fans have not been as reserved and have started going after their erstwhile heroes online.
Kentucky players are pulling away from their fans. Isaiah Jackson said this: “So far, I actually deleted social media, and a lot of the guys on the team have too. I haven’t really been looking at it. But after we lost a couple, they’ve been on us.”
John Calipari had this to say: “You can be 1-6 at a lot of places and it’s not that big of a deal. Here, the world is ending. The weight of the world is on these kids. I told them, ‘Shut your phones off, only talk to your families.’ I don’t know what’s out in the internet world, but I imagine it’s ugly. I hope it’s ugly about me. I hope they say I’m the worst coach in the world and they’re not on these kids. My guess is they’re on both of us.
“I told them to just leave it alone because I don’t watch it. I don’t even watch the local news, read the local paper, I don’t. I don’t have any clutter.”
This kind of underscores something that’s bugged us for a long time: the idea that Kentucky fans are best in college basketball.
They’re great fans - as long as things are going well. When they’re not, like now, things are a nightmare. Just to be clear, we know a lot of UK fans are great, passionate, and loyal. But some are clearly nuts and driving teenagers off the Internet is pretty much nuts.
We’re not saying that other fan bases can’t be abusive, and no matter how great your program is, or how supportive the fans are when their team is winning, they’ll bail on any team in any sport at any level when the winning stops. We have no illusions about that, and certainly not at Duke because many of the fans lost interest between Vic Bubas and Bill Foster and then between the end of the Foster era and Coach K’s emergence.
What we are saying is that at a lot of places, losing brings out apathy. At Kentucky, among some fans, it brings out anger and rage.
Calipari is right to ask to be the focus. Whatever his player’s faults, none of them deserve to be savaged and humiliated.
Losing visits every program at some point. When Duke hits some lean years, whenever that happens next, we hope Blue Devil fans will not be as embarrassing as some Kentucky fans are being now.