You may have heard by now – following Senior Day, University of Cincinnati head basketball coach Mick Cronin had a few words to say about some fellow, regional, blue-blood basketball programs. Namely, UK, IU, and our old pal, UL. Cronin throws facts, not shade, folks. Let us explain.
Cronin on and off the Court
On the court, Cronin is known to get into a referee’s face from time-to-time. We, as UC fans, have all seen Mick push the refs to the edge, and, deservedly so, push on and earn a technical foul or two. Cronin’s passion is evident on the hardwood. He wears his heart on his sleeves. The top dress shirt bottom is popped. The red tie is loosened. Sometimes the jacket comes off and lands on the floor.
J.P. Macura was made well-aware of this earlier in the year. And we all remember just a few short years ago when Coach Cronin underwent medical leave before a home game against VCU. Initially reported as a brain aneurism in 2015, Cronin actually suffered from an arterial dissection. In non-medical nomenclature, coach had a very small separation in an artery inside his brain. Mick Cronin brings a new meaning to the phrase “balls to the wall” when it comes to coaching basketball.
Passionate, heated, aggressive, no-holds-barred. These are the words to describe him on the court.
Off the court, Coach Cronin can be described as a much different person. It is extremely difficult to extract the juicy comments out of Mick Cronin, we, as the media, so crave. With the exception of every post-game press conference following the Crosstown Shootout, Mick is short, to-the-point, and cut-and-dry when answering questions. Mick Cronin is far from Mike Leach. I wouldn’t bet the farm on coach speaking about pirates, aliens, Greek mythology, Woodstock, or wedding advice.
Reserved, businessman, pointed. These are the words to describe him off the court.
BB&T Gate – The Statement
Following Senior Day, Mick decided to drop a few stats. After earning a win over Tulsa, with a 25-4 regular season record, Mick Cronin let loose, with the Statement: “I’m allowed to answer you however I want and I’m going to give you a stat. Kentucky, Indiana and Louisville this year combined for 32 losses. Tell me how long it’s taken us to lose 32 games?”
The Statement was in response to a question as to why Cincinnati’s defense has been slipping since the Houston loss. Now – pretend for a moment you are one of the unquestionably premier defensive-minded D-1 college basketball coaches in the country (i.e. Mick Cronin). And pretend you are asked the same question after earning a W and realizing Gary Clark is leaving you to graduate and move onto the NBA. Now – pretend this would not piss you off. You are lying. No way around it – Coach Cronin was totally justified in his response. I would even say I am happy he responded this way and poked his head out of his guarded interview shell.
Now we have all heard jokes about those fans across the Ohio River that wear UK gear every day of the year. And their general response to Coach Cronin’s Statement did not disappoint. All throughout every social media platform, Kentucky fans went nuts. God forbid the University of Cincinnati compare itself to Big Blue Nation. #BBN was up in arms to say the least. The cult that is UK was angered by being questioned.
Guess what – you missed the point Kentucky! Mo Egger said it best in a short Tweet: “Referencing 3 historically great programs to say ‘hey everybody has a bad year, so our fans should be happy when we’re having a really good one.’ If that offends fans of those programs, or his, then that’s on them.”
The Statement was designed and inspired to pay homage to three historically great basketball programs. If those fan bases are too stupid to realize that, that is on them. And just sad.
Believe it or not UK, IU, and UL are not untouchable. The FBI is proving that. Comparisons can in fact be made by – dare I say it – a Group of Five squad. Kentucky fans, especially the ones that have absolutely no connection to UK and could not get admitted into their university, please shut up. You are not God’s gift.
If you are too naive to realize the Statement was actually a compliment to demonstrate how far UC has come under Coach Cronin, then you have bigger problems to worry about.
The four schools have all won national championships and have had noteworthy NBA players. There is after-all a statue of someone named Oscar Robertson standing outside of Fifth Third Arena. What’s the big deal here? Facts are facts.
At the time of the press conference, UK was 20-9, IU was 16-14, and UL was 19-10. 33 losses combined, actually, not 32. None of these schools were ranked. All three are having awful years by their own myopic standards and inflated expectations.
It has taken UC four years to lose 32 games. This year UC has moved up the polls to as high as the 5-spot. A top-25 team all year, UC sits at 25-4. The metrics speak for themselves as demonstrated in our recent bracketology article.
Based upon the AP and Coach’s Polls UC is in fact way, way better than Kentucky, Indiana, and Louisville, combined. After all, this is the metric by which the basketball gods judge our sacred sport.
Even if you are not a sports fan, you are well-aware of the massive FBI investigations and scandals at the University of Louisville. What has transpired at “University 6” is certifiably insane. You could read books, blogs, and listen to podcasts for years and still not have a comprehensive understanding of everything that went on under the UL athletic department. What Pablo Escobar did with cocaine, UL apparently did with college basketball. You truly cannot make this stuff up. It was so bad the FBI had to step in because the NCAA would not. Think about that for a second.
How in the world John Calipari escaped Memphis and continues to escape NCAA and FBI heat at Kentucky is truly unbelievable.
Meanwhile, we have not even heard a peep of an unsubstantiated rumor about cheating under Mick Cronin. Players remain eligible. Players go to class. Players graduate. Players go on to have non-basketball careers after college. UC basketball stays out of the press for anything even tangentially related to a scandal or negativity. A standard fewer and fewer schools can claim.
Mick Cronin runs a squeaky-clean top-10 basketball program. The recruiting and talent on the court improves each and every recruiting season. Mick Cronin has now surpassed UK, IU, and UL on and off the court. Get used to it.
By Andy Smith
Thanks for reading along! If you’re not familiar with the Bearcats Sports Radio story, beyond creating sports-related content, I am a Dad, Attorney with Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP, and a lover of all things University of Cincinnati (and America). If you ever want to connect, shoot me a DM on Twitter.