It has long been said that the University of Kentucky is the Roman Empire of men's college basketball.
Suffice to say, Rome is presently burning.
Billy Gillispie has not even concluded two full seasons as Kentucky's coach, and already he has presided over five of the worst losses in UK basketball history.
From last year, there were Gardner-Webb, San Diego and the 41-point Music City Massacre at Vanderbilt.
This season, you can add VMI and what, for my money, was the worst loss of all, Wednesday's dispiriting 90-85 home-court defeat to Georgia.
That's 12-18 Georgia. Same Georgia that came into Rupp Arena 0-7 in Southeastern Conference road games. Same Georgia that lost by 21 earlier this season to Loyola of Chicago.
Yet in a game that UK and its shaky NCAA Tournament hopes absolutely had to have, that Georgia beat the Cats in Rupp.
Now, a fan base that spent years harping about "Ten-Loss Tubby" finds itself in full uproar about "Bad-Loss Billy."
"Gillispie MUST GO!" one UK fan wrote in an e-mail Thursday.
Another suggested the Kentucky coach be given "$10 and a suitcase and shown the way out of town."
One Kentucky backer was trying to organize a boycott of a potential Wildcats home game in the NIT. "The UK fan base needs to send a message to Mitch Barnhart, Dr. Lee Todd and Billy Gillispie," he wrote.
Similar fury raged all over Wildcats basketball-oriented Internet message boards, comment sections on newspaper Web sites and radio sports talk shows on Thursday.
Which makes this a good time for the Kentucky fandom to take a deep collective breath and calm down.
Now, there are warning signs raising legitimate questions about whether Gillispie is a good "fit" long-term for Kentucky basketball.
The coach lacks the public relations polish of many others who hold the elite jobs in his profession.
His irregular substitution patterns and penchant for mind games with players seem especially ill-suited for a UK job where the coach's every move is dissected voraciously on a statewide scale.
Even the fact that Gillispie isn't married has seemed a liability in the hothouse of scrutiny that is coaching at Kentucky. Being single leaves him vulnerable to rumor-mongering about his personal life, and those rumors seem to fire up whenever his team starts losing.
With a record of 37-24, Gillispie's UK teams have done an un-Kentucky-like amount of losing so far.
Still, the quickest way to make sure a great basketball program stays in long-term decline is to get into a cycle of constantly changing coaches.
After the great John Wooden retired at UCLA, that school switched head men five times in the next 14 years. Three of those coaches each made it only two years.
Even now, 34 years since Wooden won the last of his 10 NCAA titles, UCLA has never had a coach last a full decade as its head man.
It is only in the past three years under Ben Howland that UCLA has fully returned as a consistent national power.
There is a lesson in that.
However unhappy the Kentucky fan base is with Billy Gillispie in this moment, it would be counterproductive to fire a coach after only two years.
So even with Rome up in flames, this would be a very good time for the citizens of the Empire to take a chill pill — and tamp down the fire.