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  1. Medcalf: Everything is relative. The legacy has helped Kentucky recruit some of the top players in America, which has eased the pursuit of championships. But I covered Tubby Smith's tenure at Minnesota after he left Kentucky. One story he shared always stood out. After the 1998-99 season, Smith was doing his local radio show in Kentucky when a woman called and essentially gave him a pep talk, telling him that things would be better the following year. Smith had just led his team to the Elite Eight a year after winning a national title. That's Kentucky basketball. I think it's difficult to win a national title at any school, but when it's coupled with the spotlight and pressure at Kentucky, it can become an unbearable responsibility. But all three coaches mentioned above left for different reasons. Hall retired, Pitino wanted that NBA money and prestige, and Smith knew he'd risk getting fired if he didn't take Minnesota's offer. But I just don't think Kentucky is a job you want for 15, 20 years. If Kentucky's championship "drought" hits the 10-year mark during the 2021-22 season, the pressure could swallow Calipari, too. Derrick Walker Jersey Ernie Grunfeld Jersey Grant Williams Jersey
  2. Myron Medcalf, senior college basketball writer: I get the numbers. I get the legacy. I get the history attached to his time at Kentucky, one of the greatest programs in college basketball history. But I see him as a man who wielded his power and influence to ban black players from one of the country's most influential programs and extending the widespread discrimination among elite teams. I don't reward Rupp or his peers for subsequently embracing the idea of integrated teams because I don't believe they made those changes for anything but competitive reasons. Their morals hadn't changed. They just wanted to win. Per late Sports Illustrated legend Frank Deford, Rupp went on a racist rant at halftime of the 1966 title game against Texas Western. "You've got to beat those coons," he reportedly told his team. I don't care about the times. I don't care about the era. I don't care that other coaches held the same views. Rupp's legacy is simple: He won a lot of games but none of that can be disconnected from his ideas and perspectives on race and how those factors impacted the way he assembled his teams. He's not a hero to me. Jaiveon Eaves Jersey Jalen Johnson Jersey KJ Williams Jersey
  3. Joe Lunardi, ESPN bracketologist: Rupp was a product of his time and place, in many ways the Bear Bryant of college basketball. That characterization alone cements a legacy of unparalleled success, conflicted priorities and societal impact. Viewing that impact positively or negatively may depend on whether or not you are a Kentucky fan. What we know is that Rupp was a great basketball coach and his place in the Hall of Fame is secure because of it. What we can only assume is that Rupp's practices would not be tolerated today. The rest is a very personal, if not controversial, determination. Joe Schmidt Jersey Jordan Whitehead Jersey Kenny Pickett Jersey
  4. Jeff Borzello, college basketball insider: It's a legacy that's certainly changed over the years. For millennial-aged college basketball fans, the movie "Glory Road" -- a dramatic account of Texas Western's 1966 all-black starting lineup winning the national championship over Rupp's all-white Kentucky team -- changed perceptions. While it was obviously a dramatized version of events, here's the truth: Rupp didn't sign a single black player until Tom Payne in 1970. The era played a factor, but Kentucky's football program signed Nate Northington in 1966, and he became the first black athlete to play in the SEC in 1967. There are conflicting stories on whether Rupp actively recruited black basketball players before ultimately landing Payne (see links above). And that's not even looking at the point-shaving scandal or rules violations under Rupp's watch, leading to what the NCAA considers its first "death penalty." So, yes, "complicated" is certainly apt. I think as we get further away from his on-court accomplishments -- the four national titles and six Final Fours -- those begin to fade. Paul Adams Jersey Richaud Floyd Jersey Roger Wehrli Jersey Taylor Powell Jersey
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