Father of two and grandfather of three. Husband of 43 years. Once attended the same Bible study as Mitch Barnhart.
Native of Johnson County, which is in a region of Kentucky from whence Adolph Rupp once suggested his help would come. (Rupp's reference to the psalmist shows UK basketball coaches have had a weakness for grandiloquence long before John Calipari.)
Pertinent quote: "I bleed blue."
Not exactly the profile of a radical, yet Rick Music can be considered something of a revolutionary.
With Kentucky primed to extend the greatest stretch of Final Four appearances in program history (four in the last five years), he plans not to renew his season tickets. The latest price increase, which UK announced last month, led him to assess the "entertainment value" of tickets to UK home games. He decided he would prefer to spend his money on trips to see the Cats play a few quality opponents at neutral sites rather than a collection of pushovers in Rupp Arena.
"I'm a numbers guy," said Music, a retired vice president for what Ashland Inc., called business optimization. "That's how I look at things. What am I paying for? And what am I getting?"
His conclusion: "I'm getting less than what I'm paying for."
Music, 61, has bought two season tickets for 10 years. His seats have been in the corner of the lower arena above where Kentucky players enter and exit the court.
In announcing the latest price increase (about a 21-percent hike for lower arena seats), UK noted two sugar-coating factors:
■ There would be no increase in the required donation to the K Fund this time.
■ It's the first increase in the price of tickets in three years.
"That may be true," Music said. "But somebody's getting me almost every year. ... Something is racking my ticket prices up."
Counting required donations, Music said he paid $5,000 for his two tickets "just a couple, three years ago." That price increased to $5,880 last season.
"I'm sure it will be over six grand this year," he said. "So I'm starting to look at the home schedule."
Besides Louisville, UK's non-conference opponents in Rupp Arena are Albany, NJIT, Wright State, Boston University, Illinois State, Eastern Kentucky and Arizona State. NJIT confused Music. "A pretty lopsided tournament of some sort," he said. Actually, New Jersey Institute of Technology, which won at Michigan last Dec. 6, is UK's opponent Nov. 14 in the pretty lopsided Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Classic. Other UK opponents in the "classic" are Albany, Boston University and South Florida.
Of the eight teams on UK's non-conference home schedule, Albany, NJIT, Wright State, Boston U and EKU had final Ratings Percentage Indexes outside the top 100 last season. Illinois State and Arizona State were Nos. 53 and 90, respectively.
"Not to disparage any of those teams, but they'd tell you themselves they are not up to the caliber of playing the Cats," Music said. "So the entertainment value of having a ticket at UK is not all that high. ...
"So if I'm going to spend six grand next year, I'm going to see them play Duke (in Chicago) and go to the SEC Tournament and, who knows, maybe some games in the NCAA Tournament, and end up with more bang for my buck."
Music does not consider himself a protester. He is not looking to lead a fan exodus, which would send a message about ticket prices or quality of opponents or both.
"I know Kentucky basketball is such a force in this area, in this state, that they'll just look at me and say, 'We've got people lined up behind you that will be happy to have those tickets,'" he said. "And that's fine. I don't mind that at all."
Music will remain a UK fan. "I bleed blue," he said before adding, "But not one of those hard-core everybody-else-is-a-piece-of-trash type fans."
Of course, UK games are televised. Music won't be missing anything. A son-in-law recently installed a 100-inch home theater system. "Man, it's like watching a game sitting courtside," Music said.
As for Music's wife, Kathy, she is "fully on board" with not renewing the season tickets, he said.
"She's not a big fan of going and just watching a team get trashed, although watching a dunk fest once in a while can be quite entertaining," he said. "But to see that over and over and over again like we did last year, you almost get to the point you feel sorry for the competition."
'We're the savages'
Former LSU Coach Dale Brown applauded last week when several SEC coaches, including John Calipari, called for taking down Confederate symbols from public grounds. The call, which echoed an earlier statement by SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, came in the aftermath of a motivated-by-racism massacre of nine people in a Charleston, S.C., church.
In explaining why he thinks Confederate symbols should be removed, Brown quoted 18th century Irish philosopher Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
Brown noted how Confederate flags and symbols can be hurtful reminders of slavery and white supremacy ideology. He recalled growing up in North Dakota and seeing racist attitudes directed at Native Americans.
As a member of the Minot (N.D.) State basketball team, Brown played against Dickinson State, which had the nickname of Savages.
"Savages," Brown said. "We're the damned savages. We're the ones that took their land away."
Dickinson State now goes by the nickname Blue Hawks.
When asked about Confederate symbols, SEC coaches chose their words carefully. There are conflicting constituencies: Black players and their families might abhor the Confederate flag while a segment of white fans revere it.
As South Carolina Coach Frank Martin said of the Confederate flag, "It represents a lot of good to a lot of people ... and it represents what people were willing to die for. But there's also another side. ... It's offensive to numerous other folks."
Martin tried to strike a balance by suggesting it was proper to display a Confederate flag in private homes and museums, but not on government property.
Brown denied that he had to walk a tightrope on race during his 25 seasons as LSU coach. He recalled hearing that David Duke might attend a LSU home game. Duke was a white nationalist, far-right politician and former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
"I told the administrators I'll pull the team off the court if he's going to bring this gang of Ku Klux Klanners in here to get attention ... ," Brown said. "There was no tightrope. The truth is the truth."
While supporting the idea of taking down Confederate flags from public property, Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl tried to move Monday's SEC teleconference to less contentious ground.
"Let's honor our flag and fly our flag and take better care and honor our flag more," he said of the U.S. flag, putting a special emphasis on the word "our" each time. "So much is being made of the Confederate flag right now, and I get that. But with July 4th coming up, let's raise our flag."
Cal to NBA?
Larry Brown, Hall of Fame coach and mentor of John Calipari, apparently finds these Calipari-to-the-NBA "reports" hard to believe.
Sportswriter EJ Holland of The Dallas Morning News quoted Brown on the subject in a recent blog posting. It read:
"I really believe he's got the best job in basketball," Brown told The 4 Quarters Podcast. "Everywhere he goes, when we recruit, he's recruiting five guys and he's gonna get four and a half of them. We're recruiting 150 and we're lucky if we get two.
"He's got a special situation. There's about eight or 10 jobs in college that every year you're going to be in the lottery. I got this theory, in the NBA when you're bad, you're in the lottery. In college when you're great, you get multiple lottery picks."
Former Arkansas player Michael Qualls was the hard-luck story of this year's NBA Draft. He injured a hip during the NBA Combine in Chicago, then tore an anterior cruciate ligament while working out for the Phoenix Suns on June 14.
Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said of learning about Qualls' torn ACL, "It just hurt my heart."
Qualls said he entered the 2015 NBA Draft to help provide for his 3-year-old son, Michael Qualls Jr., who had been taken care of by the player's family and his girlfriend's family.
"Time for me to put food on the table," Qualls said at the NBA Combine. "Three years is long enough."
A few weeks later, Qualls tore an ACL.
Eye-catching athleticism enabled Qualls to be featured on an ESPN SportsCenter top 10 play 13 times in his college career. UK fans may recall the flying put-back dunk in the final second that beat the Cats at Arkansas in 2014.
"A lot of people still hate me for that," Qualls said with a smile. He continued smiling as he noted Kentucky got payback by twice beating the Hogs this past season.
Having gone undrafted, Qualls is expected to sign as a free agent with Billy Donovan's Oklahoma City Thunder.
On the SEC coaches' teleconference Monday, Anderson expressed confidence that Qualls will bounce back from the torn ACL. That echoed what Qualls tweeted after learning about the injury.
"Minor setback for craziest come back you've ever seen," he wrote. "#thatsapromise."
Two of a kind
Bobby Hurley will lead Arizona State in a game at Kentucky on Dec. 12. That means one of only two current Division I coaches who were named Most Outstanding Player of a Final Four will be in Rupp Arena, Hurley was named MOP of the 1992 Final Four.
The only other MOP now coaching in Division I? Wake Forest Coach Danny Manning (1988 with Kansas).
Missouri Coach Kim Anderson injected a moment of candor in Monday's SEC summer teleconference/exercise in marketing.
After saying he liked Missouri's class of incoming freshmen, Anderson could not resist adding, "I guess very few coaches come on and say they don't like their recruiting class."
To Ralph Hacker. The former voice of UK basketball turned 71 on Thursday. ... To Todd May. He turns 51 Sunday (today). ... To Clark Kellogg. The CBS commentator turned 54 on Thursday. ... To Ed Murphy. The former Ole Miss coach turned 74 on Wednesday.