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Author: Dick Gabriel

He left UK on top. Now, Pitino is leaving Louisville – for all the wrong reasons

It was May 6, 1997, when Rick Pitino left the UK campus for the last time as the head coach at the University of Kentucky.  To the surprise of no one, he was leaving for the NBA, where pastures were greener and lush with the riches that came with the title of Head Coach of the Boston Celtics. No surprise, because he had flirted with at least four other NBA clubs before choosing the Celtics, a franchise he likened in import to Kentucky basketball – a parallel, professional version of the “Holy Roman Empire” of hoops.  He had said...

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Great game? Clunker? Missouri still a win for 5-1 Kentucky

More than 1,000 yards of total offense. Seventy-four points. Touchdown bombs, sailing through the raindrops. So why didn’t this feel like the great game that it no doubt looked like to any impartial fan, peeking at Kentucky vs. Missouri on a blustery Saturday night? There were times it seemed less like a football game and more like a bad heavyweight boxing match in a gas station parking lot. If you’re a Tiger fan, it’s because your struggling team showed signs of life offensively that you haven’t seen since your season-opening, 72-43 blowout of Missouri State. Since then, your guys have...

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Offense sputters again but it’s defense to the rescue for Wildcats

(Wildcats honor Nate Northington on 50th anniversary of his becoming first African-American player SEC football history) Kentucky Offensive Line: “Hey, defense – we owe you one.” Kentucky Defense: “Yeah you do.” If I had told you back in August that, on more than one occasion, the UK defense would have to bail out the offense this year, you probably would have handed me a specimen jar and sent me toward the nearest rest room. Anyone who thought they saw that coming had to be on something, right? But that’s been a recurring theme this college football season, never so...

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After delivering UK from shame, Pitino making humiliated exit from U of L

The last time I spoke to Rick Pitino, we were standing on a boat docked off the coast of Miami.  He was nursing a cocktail, happily reminiscing about his 1996 UK national championship team, as I was there working on a documentary about that season.  I’d spoken to him before, away from basketball, but I couldn’t help thinking that I’d never seen him so relaxed. I doubt I’ll ever see him that way again. The Pitino Era is over at Louisville, finished in a way none of us anticipated.  But maybe we should have.  Corruption in college athletics can...

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Too many mistakes, too many wasted opportunities – the Streak lives

If you wandered over to Kroger Field early Sunday morning, you might be able to see them, just laying there – all the points the Wildcats left on the field Saturday night in their latest heartbreaking loss to Florida, one that took its place among the other 30, stretching back to 1986. It was a one-point punch to the gut, delivered as Austin MacGinnis’ try for a school-record 57-yard field goal died in the end zone, along with the Wildcats’ hopes for a 4-0 start and a slot alone atop the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division. So many points left...

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