We have discovered the perfect way to resolve the Indiana-Kentucky basketball scheduling mess.
It is fool proof. It will absolutely, positively work.
The key is getting Indiana athletic director Fred Glass and Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart to go along with it. If they do, we’ll have this resolved by the end of the weekend, perhaps sooner.
First, a few things to consider.
We do not live in a black-and-white world. There are various shades of gray that turn truth into perspective. There’s a recent novel, 50 Shades of Gray, that sort of deals with it. However, that’s about sex, a topic that’s not quite germane to this issue.
Both Glass and Barnhart make good points. This isn’t about right and wrong. Reasonable people can disagree, and these guys do.
Glass is ticked because Kentucky won’t compromise. Barnhart is unhappy because Glass went public with a process he felt should be private. In a lot of ways, it has become less about what’s in the best interest of both programs (play the game, make lots of money, showcase your teams, give fans what they want!) and more about side issues. It’s become personal more than business.
In the end, it doesn’t matter where they play the game. Just play it.
Right now UK has replaced IU with a home-and-neutral-site (Dallas) two-year deal with a strong Baylor team. IU has replaced Kentucky with, what, Savannah State? After passing on an opportunity to start a long-term series with a powerhouse Louisville program willing to give the Hoosiers everything they want?
What’s up with that?
So how do you resolve this?
Here is our foolproof solution.
First, Glass and Barnhart need to meet face to face. No more meetings with intermediaries or representatives or phone calls or letters. Glass and Barnhart need to sit down in a room, avoid all the confusion and suggestions that the other is ignoring him, and talk this out.
Second, they need to do this in a closed-door meeting. Once they enter the room, the doors are locked. They don’t get out until they reach an agreement.
Third, the temperature in the room is raised to 105 degrees. One glass, and one glass only, of water is placed in the room with them. They can share or fight. It’s up to them. We don’t care because we’ll be outside with the key sipping champagne served by Playboy centerfolds.
We told you this was fool proof!
Fourth, Justin Bieber songs are played continuously and loudly in the room. Every hour, Tiny Tim singing “Tip-toe throught the Tulips” will be added for the kind of duet sure to break even the most compromise-resistant nature.
Who’s Tiny Tim and what’s up with the tulips? Great question. If you’re of a certain age, maturity and wisdom, you will remember Tiny Tim and his song. It comes from the 1960s’ era of wearing flowers in your hair, free love, silly televised weddings and Laugh-In. Let’s just say that Tiny Tim was not the most masculine of guys, and the marriage didn’t end well.
But we digress.
If Glass and Barnhart want to leave the room, they have to agree. If they want the music to stop, they have to agree. If they want more to drink, or get something to eat, they have to agree. Doesn’t matter what it is –- on-campus, neutral site, a combination of both. Two-year deal, four years, 66 years. It doesn’t matter. They just have to be on the same page and make it work.
And then we can get back to the 50 Shades of Gray novel.
Glass went on Dan Dakich’s Indianapolis radio show to explain his side of the IU-Kentucky impasse on Thursday afternoon.
To recap, Barnhart shot down Glass’s exceptionally generous compromise offer to continue the annual basketball series –- 2012 and 2013 at Lucas Oil Stadium (as Kentucky coach John Calipari wanted), 2014 at Rupp Arena, 2015 at Assembly Hall. Glass even offered to pay half of a $100,000 buyout to free up a date.
Glass said every Indiana student should see an IU-UK game on campus at least once, which is why he pushed for the four-year deal. He said a neutral site would make more money, but he wanted it on campus for the benefit of students and players. He said many students told him last December’s win over Kentucky was the highlight of their college sports experience. He said he’s not interested in a two-year deal, which is what Kentucky officials want. He also said Assembly Hall was safe, refuting concerns that the students rushing the floor after IU’s win last December endangered Kentucky players.
Glass compared negotiating with Kentucky to the Charlie Brown cartoon where Lucy keeps promising she’ll hold the football for Charlie to kick, then keeps pulling it so that he falls. He said IU would not be Charlie Brown to UK’s Lucy.
Glass was reasonable, frank, firm and funny. He is passionate about the Cream ‘n Crimson, and it showed.
But can he get a deal done?
That’s the bottom line.
Barnhart wasn’t about to let Glass have the public stage all to himself. He granted an interview with CatsIllustrated during the SEC meetings to discuss the the IU-UK issue, the compromise, why he turned it down, and what he hopes will happen.
He said he was “disappointed” in the public way these negotiations have been conducted. He referred to the way IU announced the apparent ending of the series on May 3 when Barnhart thought they were still talking things out. He said Kentucky wasn’t interested in a four-year deal because it would mess up their home-and-home series with Louisville. He said the Wildcats didn’t want to play on campus for the next two years. He said they want to play Indiana, but only in Indianapolis for the next two seasons. He said he was willing to discuss on-campus sites after that.
The two dates available for this season at Lucas Oil Stadium are Dec. 15 and Dec. 22. Barnhart said UK is ready to agree to that, but time is running out to finalize schedules.
Barnhart insisted the atmosphere at Assembly Hall wasn’t a problem. Neither was fans rushing the court after the Hoosier victory. He said crowds rushing the court after beating Kentucky is nothing new.
“That’s not a big deal to us.”
Barnhart said he was puzzled by Glass sending him a letter rather than a more direct communication. He said he would do what was in the best interest of his program.
Here’s what it comes down to -– these guys ain’t ready to agree. That’s a shame, because these could be America’s best teams by next December. It’s a game that everybody except those with weak hearts would want to see.
A final thought. The best thing Indiana can do is play and beat the Wildcats. Beat them at Lucas Oil Stadium. Beat them at a NCAA tourney site. Beat them wherever they can until Kentucky officials are so sick of it they’ll want to return to on-campus sites because Rupp Arena is the only place they’ll have a chance to win.
And then IU can beat them there.
There’s nothing gray about that.