INDIANAPOLIS — In case you haven't heard, Kentucky is ruining college basketball.
Everybody says so. Rolling Stone says so. The national media says so. Bob Knight says so, or the former Indiana coach would say so if the old grump could bear to force the words Kentucky and John Calipari out of his sour puss.
Here's the mantra of the self-appointed protectors of the game: Kentucky is good on the court, but bad for the sport.
The reason isn't the so-called one-and-done model tha tKentucky employs. The reason is that Kentucky employs that one-and-done model so successfully.
This is UK's fourth Final Four in the past five seasons, a ridiculous feat accomplished in large part with players who dock for a year before proceeding to the NBA Draft green room to hear their names called by Adam Silver.
Say the critics: It's not collegiate.
Says me: College sports stopped being "collegiate" a long time ago.
The latest in a long list of confirmations came in a Wednesday email stating that "Fiskars, the world's No. 1 scissors brand, is the official net-cutting scissors at the NCAA tournament."
Yes, the NCAA even commercializes the scissors.
OK, OK, but why can't Kentucky be like Duke? the critics ask. There's a model program. Really? Seems that Duke is following the Kentucky model. Kyrie Irving went one-and-done in 2011. Austin Rivers went one-and-done in 2012. Jabari Parker went one-and-done in 2014. Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones are likely one-and-dones in 2015.
Has Calipari pushed his model to the max? Yes, because he can when others can't. He's not the only coach recruiting McDonald's All-Americans. He just signs more than anybody else.
The reason galls the protectors of the game. Calipari's pitch isn't, "Help me build a great basketball program." His pitch is, "I'll help you get to where you want to go."
Where they want to go is the NBA. There's nothing wrong or new about that. What's new are the rules — the age-requirement is an NBA rule, not a college rule — and the money.
"Twenty years ago, the NBA contract was $125,000," Calipari said during a joint press conference Thursday with Wisconsin Coach Bo Ryan. "Now if you're a top-10 pick, it's $25 million."
Times change. We use iPhones instead of rotary phones. We watch Netflix instead of over-the-air channels. We get our bills online instead of through the mail. We're not going back.
Neither is Calipari. If the model has changed, the objective remains the same. Being "collegiate" is nice. Winning is better. Ask former Alabama coach Anthony Grant or former Mississippi State coach Rick Ray about that.
At 38-0, Kentucky has yet to lose, and if that's ruining college basketball, then that's just fine with the television networks. Tournament ratings are up. Way up. Maybe they're tuning in to root against Kentucky. Or maybe they're tuning in to see history.
"I'd rather not speak to Kentucky, although I will say this," Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Thursday. "John has done an amazing job with this group, and it's been good for college basketball in that you've been talking about a team instead of talking about freshmen or individuals.
"For a few years, we've gotten to be like the pros, where it's a matchup of individuals. This year it's a renewal of what college basketball should be. It's about teams. Kentucky's been a great team."
Kentucky has been a great team thanks to the skill and sacrifices of veterans (Willie Cauley-Stein), holdovers (the Harrison twins), probable one-and-done-ers (Karl-Anthony Towns and Trey Lyles) and possible one-and-done-ers (Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis).
And if you decry the Kentucky model, you're longing for an old-fashioned model in which coaches were faculty members, athletic departments weren't corporations, students got better seats than the big donors and everything wasn't sold to the highest bidder.
That model doesn't exist anymore.
If it ever truly did.