I think there comes a time in every man's life when he has to decide whether he's going to beat a cab driver senseless while shouting racial slurs. I chose not to. Andy Kennedy chose to. Let's not throw stones.
Our opinion on the whole "Andy Kennedy is still our basketball coach even though he's a criminal" thing continues after the jump.
The morning the news broke, I remember that One Man to Beat texted me this simple sentence "Andy Kennedy arrested." I wasn't near a computer, so I didn't have any idea what was going on. Once I did reach a computer, it didn't really help anything. What we knew then was this. Andy Kennedy punched a cab driver. He yelled a racial slur while doing so.
"Oh no," I thought to myself, sweating. What will we do? How can we possibly recruit now that the world knows that Andy Kennedy doesn't like blac- wait... he's Muslim? Oh praise Jesus: an ethnicity that is socially acceptable to hate. I personally have no problem with Muslim people, but post-911, if you want a seat up front on Southwest, find the Muslim next to whom everyone was afraid to sit.
But more importantly, what the hell was Andy Kennedy doing out, drunk, at 1:30 AM the night before the Louisville game? I had heard numerous times that Kennedy would go to the Library and drink way too much, but never before a game. Sure, there were rumblings of him spitting game on sorostitutes, but there's no way that Cincy tail matches up to Oxford, right?
Anyway, next came the obligatory Ole Miss Spirit post from Chuck Rounsaville about how the whole thing was being blown out of proportion, how Kennedy never punched the cabbie, how the cabbie actually yelled a racial slur at Michael White, prompting Kennedy to become enraged. It was textbook. Put the feed in the troughs for the sheep. Everything is ok. This is not news. Andy Kennedy was actually the DD last night for Louisville coaches...
Cue the nationally televised Big East-SEC Showdown matchup between EP-less Ole Miss and top five Louisville. Thank God that Bob Knight was an analyst that evening. Knight can never, ever, rake a coach over the coals for going batshit crazy. That's like the pot calling the kettle "Sadam Bin Laden." Bobby K (not the one that was an NFL kicker) made some statement that he thought the charges were bogus, and that was basically that. Oh, and we lost... and Chris Warren's season was over.
Then, Kimber filed for loss of consortium, and everyone thought that meant that Andy was impotent. More like, "Can'tGetItUpEddy" shouted some opposing fan who
I just made up was totally real.
If Andy Kennedy was found guilty of assault, there was no way we would be able to keep him. No way. We had to help him fight it. When the administration issued the statement they did, that they were 100% behind him, I knew the outcome already. Andy Kennedy wasn't going to be found guilty of assault. You can say what you want about Pete Boone and Chancellor Khayat, but you can't say that they're quick to back someone's misconduct when they know he's guilty
unless that person has a music hall named after them at the University and allows football coaches to use his private jet to recruit Juco All-Americans.
Jump ahead a few months, and Andy Kennedy has to pay a whopping one hundred dollars (which Pete Boone will NOT pay because he's such a tightwad LOLZ!), do 40 hours of community service (does having to coach a team that lost three of its top seven players count?) and spend a year on probation (not the kind that causes you to lose scholarships. See, there's this thing called the real world. I know we forget about it since most of our lives are consumed by athletics, but it does exist.)
Well 45 minutes ago, I said that I would be issuing the Cup's opinion about Andy Kennedy, so I guess I should probably do that.
Everything was handled the right way. Everything.
We had to keep Andy Kennedy. While some people seem to think that he's overrated since we haven't gone to an NCAA tournament under the coach, I whole-heartedly dispute that. Let's look, very briefly, at what he faced during his first three years here.
Year 1: No one on the team was heralded entering the season. 8-8 SEC finish.
Year 2: Lost three leading scorers. Pre-season mags predicted no post-season. 7-9 SEC finish.
Year 3: Lost three of four big men on the team. Lost three of top 4 players returning due to season-ending injury. 7-9 SEC finish.
Sure, last season didn't go the way we hoped, but Andy Kennedy's coaching is not to blame. If anything, blame our success in football. Ole Miss can't have three "money" sports that are good in one year. We just can't.
The truth is that Andy Kennedy is one of the best young coaches in the nation. He's a fantastic recruiter, and he's an above average coach. John Calipari has proven that combination is enough to, eventually, reach the Final Four. If Ole Miss had let Kennedy go, we would be right back where we started. Do any of you think that we would be able to lure a coach with the ability of Andy Kennedy to the program again?
Sure, he has no idea how to be a head coach, but that comes with time. He's learning. I just hope that when he's being courted by teams within reach of Ole Miss, he remembers that we stuck with him through this. I'll understand if he does really well and a team the caliber of Louisville comes after him. He can leave then. But if Tennesee's looking for a new coach and they contact him, he'd better say "thanks, but no thanks."
Also, I assume they'll be moving the Andy Kennedy hour from its regularly scheduled broadcast location of The Library Sports Bar...