Calipari Remembers 9/11

September 10, 2009 reports that Calipari will be in New York for a book-signing of his latest book, Bounce Back, on Thursday and plans to visit the World Trade Center site afterward.  Proceeds from the book will go to the September 11 Memorial and Museum.

“Knowing that I will be signing books in a store adjacent to the World Trade Center site on the eve of 9/11 moved my wife, Ellen, and I to make this donation in hopes of honoring those who lost their lives on that solemn day eight years ago,” said Calipari.


Ellison’s ‘Domain of Power’ an Angry Book

August 8, 2009

I wrote several posts back that my next piece of reading of Wildcat history was going to be Betty Boles Ellison’s promisingly juicy book Kentucky’s Domain of Power, Greed and Corruption.  Sadly, I couldn’t make it too far into what was from the very beginning just an angry book, seemingly motivated by something more personal than a desire to report on history.  There seemed to be quite a chip there.  I decided to put it down because,  hey, I’m looking to have a   joyous journey to the Big Blue Nation, not an angry one!  Anyway, the book at least sparked my interest in SEC rules and such.  I’ll explore those at some point, but for now I’m going back to bone up on some more Rupp history with Adolph Rupp:  Kentucky’s Basketabll Baron by former Lexington sports writer Russell Rice.

“Rupp as I Knew Him” not too Pithy but Good Enough to Get Me on My Way

August 3, 2009
Rupp apparently liked to dress like a gas station attendant during practice.

Rupp, above on the right, apparently liked to dress like a gas station attendant during practice.

Harry Lancaster’s Adolph Rupp:  As I Knew Him  is not what you would call a compelling read.  It presents as a bit narcissistic, reading more like Lancaster’s UK coaching autobiography as opposed to a Rupp biography of the two’s time together.  It does on some level impart a clear image of the Baron, just not quite as clear an image as one would expect from a book written about Rupp by someone who knew him so well.  Lancaster might have been a little too close to the subject as they say.

The book traces Lancaster’s career with Rupp from about 1942 up to Rupp’s death in 1977.  Lancaster regurgitates scores, stats, and exquisite details of some of the important games he witnessed, all of which made my teeth hurt, but you couldn’t write a book like this without that stuff.

I definitely was riveted to the brief discussion of the point-shaving scandal of 1951, which resulted in Kentucky having to sit out the 1952-53 season.  I would have liked some juicier detail about that.  Everybody loves a scandal. 

But since my main purpose for reading this book was to learn a little about Rupp, here are the top ten things that interested me for one reason or the other:

1.  Rupp was a University of Kansas  graduate.  So is Coach Cal.  Eerie isn’t it?  I also understand that Rupp once shot a free throw in a movie theater and went to hide in a warehouse, and that Coach Cal once shot a free throw in a warehouse and went to hide in a movie theater.  Gives you goose pimples, doesn’t it?  Oh, and what’s even crazier, Coach Cal was born in 1959, and in 1959, Rupp was 58!  I’ll never understandred pjs the mysteries of this existence.

2.  Rupp liked wearing brown suits when he coached and was thus dubbed “The Man in the Brown Suit.”  He also enjoyed wearing red pajamas to bed, causing me to dub him “The Man in the Red PJ’s.”  Oh, and he also wore some strange little khaki “practice uniform” shown above. 

3.  Rupp liked bourbon.  Well, duh.

5.  Rupp kept to himself  and never had much to do with his players unless it was in the context of practice or games.

4.  Rupp liked chili.  Maybe THAT’S why he kept to himself.

6.  Rupp was superstitious and considered it good luck to find, of all things, a hair pin on game day.  Knowing of this superstition, the assistants and players would often plant a hair pin where Rupp would find it.  On the days of important games, there might be several lying about. 

7.  Rupp usually had an angle and was prone to use individuals for his own purposes.  He was also  known to occasionally take credit for another’s actions.  Oh well, who hasn’t or doesn’t?

8.  Rupp once (at least once) slapped one of his players during a game.  And didn’t get sued for it!

9.  Rupp was a cheapskate and “never made any real money from his coaching salary at Kentucky.”  My how times have changed.

10.  Lancaster and Rupp had a falling out after Lancaster was appointed  Athletic Director.  The two never said more than “good morning” to each other for five years.  The silence between the two was broken after Lancaster visited Rupp in the hospital.  Rupp died three weeks later. 

Insert your own caption here.  ;)

Insert your own caption here. 😉

‘As I Knew Him’ touches ever so lightly on Rupp’s racism and his reluctance to sign Tom Payne, UK’s first African-American player.  I’ll want to delve into that side of Rupp a little more at some point, but for now this info gives me a sufficient scent to set me afoot.  The book at least whetted my appetite for scandal, which I’ll read about next in  Betty Boles Ellison’s expose, Kentucky’s Domain of Power, Greed and Corruption

It’ll probably take me a little longer to read Ellison’s since there aren’t any pictures.  I hate that.  Oh, and speaking of pictures, I just have to ask you what the UK athletic department (Back then it was called the Phys. Ed. Dept.) was thinking when they took the above picture of Bill Spivey and Bobby Watson during the 1949-50 season.  Feel free to make up your own caption.

Until next time.

What I’m reading

August 1, 2009

Just got back from the library with a few volumes of  Big Blue reading.  I figured I had better start from the beginning, and by beginning I mean with the Baron himself.  I chose  Adolph Rupp:  As I knew him by former Rupp assistant coach, Harry Lancaster

You can pick a used copy of the book up at for $30 or buy an autographed copy on ebay for more than twice that.  I’ll stick with the free library book.  I’ll give you a review here shortly.