Longing for the old days of college basketball

BY KEITH TAYLOR

Kentucky Today

I miss the old days, but they aren’t coming back anytime soon.

I grew up watching college football and basketball players stay and play at the University of Kentucky for four seasons. I watched players blossom from freshmen to seniors and always got emotional on senior day when the late Happy Chandler did his rendition of “My Old Kentucky Home” at Rupp Arena.

I also can remember watching Kentucky football replays on local television and staying up past midnight on school nights to watch a tape delayed broadcast of a Kentucky basketball game.

Players felt like family and for at least four years, they were part of us. The downfall began with the one-and-done generation and has carried over into the NIL revolution. The transfer portal is nothing more than a college free agent market.

I’m all for student-athletes getting their fair share when it comes to NIL, but rules and regulations need to be established to create a level playing field before it gets out of my hand.

Kentucky has gotten away from competing against rivalry teams and instead has focused on “bigger” games against Power 5 opponents on a neutral site. Home-and-home contests against rivals such as Indiana, North Carolina are now a thing of the past.

Reportedly talks are under way to resume the Kentucky-Indiana series on the basketball court, although progress on a possible breakthrough isn’t known. Rupp Arena is one of the top college basketball venues in the nation and should be used as a bargaining chip when it comes to negotiating a home-and-home series with the Hoosiers and other big-time programs.

A home-and-home against St. John’s and Rick Pitino would be a lucrative pact, considering St. John’s has Madison Square Garden in its own backyard. It’s a longshot wish, but not completely out of reach.

The Big 12-SEC Challenge is a thing of the past, but the ACC will replace the Big 12 beginning this season, creating the ACC-SEC Challenge, A Kentucky-Duke encounter would be the perfect way to begin the showdown between the two conferences. But we don’t live in a perfect world.

One can only hope that would happen, at least eventually.

The addition of Texas and Oklahoma in the SEC following the upcoming season will add spice to the schedule and provide some intriguing matchups.

Until then, we will just keep playing the waiting game.

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