Mark Story: Taking accountability for a year of opinions

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistDecember 29, 2012 

In newspaper journalism, we see part of our role as holding those with power accountable.

It seems only fair, therefore, that we also hold the mirror on ourselves. Here is my year-end evaluation of some of the opinions and predictions made in my columns in 2012.

Opinions

My view: In the week of the Final Four, I wrote on March 30 that the 1983 Kentucky-Louisville Dream Game in the NCAA Tournament's Mideast Region finals was "bigger" than the 2012 UK-U of L meeting in the Final Four.

In retrospect: In researching and reporting for the article, I changed my mind. Initially, I planned to write that the 2012 game was "bigger" because it occurred deeper in the tournament and because, in an Internet and social media age, there were infinitely more platforms available in 2012 than 1983 to hype a game.

However, as Joe B. Hall pointed out, it was the '83 Dream Game that led directly to the UK-U of L regular-season basketball series, with all that has meant to the commonwealth. It also led to Kentucky eventually agreeing to play other state schools.

So it is literally true that the 1983 UK-U of L game changed sports in this state in a way the 2012 game could not.

My view: After it became apparent that the long-running Kentucky-Indiana men's basketball rivalry was imperiled in a dispute over playing on-campus (IU's preference) or neutral-site games (UK's), I wrote May 4 that John Calipari and Tom Crean had a responsibility to college hoops as an institution to compromise and find a way to continue the series.

In retrospect: To Crean's credit, IU did offer a compromise: In four years, play two neutral-site games and one each on the UK and Indiana campuses. Kentucky and Calipari would not budge from a take-it-or-leave-it offer of playing Indiana only on a neutral floor. So the series ended, and it's bad for college basketball.

My view: The Freeh Report detailed how high-ranking Penn State officials including Joe Paterno appeared to have covered for Jerry Sandusky's child abuse. In response, I wrote on July 13 that the forces that led to the alleged cover up — a small community's slavish devotion to a powerful, celebrity coach and the desire to "protect the program" at all costs — were present in many college sports towns.

In retrospect: There was a fair amount of adverse reaction to this column, but I still think the premise is true.

My view: After Vanderbilt beat Kentucky 40-0 in a shockingly empty Commonwealth Stadium, I wrote that UK needed to fire Joker Phillips as head football coach.

In retrospect: As someone who wanted to see Phillips, a native Kentuckian and ex-UK player, succeed, this was not a column I ever wanted to write. But in his post-game news conference after the Vandy demolition, even Phillips seemed all but resigned to his fate. UK fired him the next day.

My view: On Nov. 13, I wrote that, in seeking a new football coach, Kentucky should insist on a head man with a sense of honor — a requirement that would eliminate Bobby Petrino from consideration.

In retrospect: I still think UK was right not to give in to the Petrino temptation and employ a head coach with a long history of deceptive behavior.

While I understand the business rationale at Western Kentucky in getting a "bad-character discount" on Petrino, a high-level coach WKU could never have otherwise attracted, I'm disappointed that Western didn't show the same restraint Kentucky did.

Predictions

My pick: In the Herald-Leader's NCAA Tournament preview, I picked Kentucky, Missouri, Florida State and North Carolina to make the men's Final Four.

In the real world: Kentucky, Louisville, Kansas and Ohio State made the men's Final Four.

My pick: In the Herald-Leader's NCAA Tournament preview, I picked Kentucky to win the 2012 men's basketball national championship.

In the real world: Kentucky won the 2012 men's basketball national championship.

My pick: In the Herald-Leader college football preview, I picked Kentucky to go 4-8.

In the real world: Kentucky went 2-10.

My pick: I predicted Georgia would win the SEC East football championship, LSU the West and that Georgia would edge LSU in the SEC Championship Game.

In the real world: Georgia won the SEC East, Alabama won the West and Alabama edged Georgia in the SEC Championship Game.

Onward to 2013.

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230. Twitter: @markcstory. Email: mstory@herald-leader.com. Blog: markstory.bloginky.com

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