CRAWFORD | Catching up: Calipari, Levitch, Towles and more - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Catching up: Calipari, Levitch, Towles and more

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Back home in Kentucky, so it’s time to catch up.

Just a few thoughts on some stories that have crept up over the past week, or two, heck, maybe even three.

CALIPARI’S RECRUITING COMMENTS. For a second straight year, John Calipari made news with something someone said he said. None of us has heard him say it. We don’t know what his tone was, or his words.

The source is Gary Parrish, a writer for CBS Sports and radio host in Memphis, who I don’t think was trying to make Calipari look bad by talking about this alleged exchange, he was just doing what you do on talk radio, talking about what you’ve heard. And he said he heard this from five sources.

In this instance, Parrish heard Calipari approached another coach who (Calipari had heard) had made some back-channel allegations against him after Cal had swooped in to take a recruit, and said, essentially, he could take any recruit he wanted, because of who he is, and who Kentucky is, and be grateful he hasn’t done it more.

It sounds like Calipari. Shoot, it probably happened. I know Garry Parrish and I don’t think I’ve ever known him to be wrong.

But it’s a tough thing to write about — as it was a year ago when Calipari was reported to have said something about recruiting advantages for Olympic coaches, when we never really had words from Calipari on the matter.

My preferred way of doing things is to let people speak for themselves. That’s not the best way to get web hits, probably.

But the only way to be fair to people sometimes is to not allow words to be put into their mouths.

It’s hard enough for all of us to defend what we do say. Harder still to account for everything people say we said.

Having said all that — if he did say it, well, I can’t much argue with any of it.

LEVITCH GOES ON SCHOLARSHIP. The danger with University of Louisville junior David Levitch is to treat him like a novelty act. Rick Pitino announced in a blog post Tuesday that he’ll put Levitch on scholarship for the coming season, and most people will respond with, “That’s nice.”

But it’s far from charity. I expect Levitch will fully earn that scholarship — and all the free NCAA-approved food — it entails.

The thing about Levitch is that he does what he’s told. He came into games last season and got the job done when more heralded, physically gifted players could not because he did some simple things — he ran the offense, he passed the ball. He did his job.

This was his recruiting class: Chris Jones, Akoy Agau, Anton Gill and Terry Rozier.

He’s the last man standing.

And Levitch may have to do more this year. His is an attitude that typifies what Pitino wants from his team, and though it won just twice in Puerto Rico, it shows every sign of maintaining that attitude into the season.

After Levitch came in and helped turn the tide of a game against Marshall early last season, Pitino said, “The student body thinks it’s a joke. . . . But besides his having the worst posture in America and the worst hairdo in America, he really does a lot of smart things. He knows how to move the basketball on offense. He knows how to spot up. He can go by people. And defensively, he’s a much-improved basketball player.”

He’s no joke. And he’s no charity case. Like Tim Henderson, a one-time walk-on who etched his name into Louisville lore, Levitch will figure into some big situations this season. He’s known for being pretty savvy about the horses. I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t make Pitino’s scholarship bet pay off somewhere down the road.

PLAYERS UNION STRUCK DOWN. The National Labor Relations Board really didn’t do anything in the case of Northwestern University football players seeking to form a union except say that it didn’t have jurisdiction in the matter, and that the players were not employees of the university.

It didn’t rule on the merits of the arguments. And basically said it would not rule because a ruling for the football players might have had unintended consequences for public universities.

It was a bit of a surprise, because all of the momentum has been going in the direction of finding ways to share more of the growing TV sports revenues seen by athletic departments with students who help generate them.

It’s not the end of the road for this question. In fact, the board pointed out that many changes in the types of benefits allowed for players have improved the situation for players already.

A middle road will have to be found. But there is a value in recognizing the sanctity of private groups in this country to govern themselves within the guidelines of the law. The courts have been very slow to tell the NCAA what to do, because it is, at least in theory, a voluntary organization made up of member schools — who themselves make the rules and determine the framework through which they will abide by them.

The best conclusion for all of this is for schools to get together and determine a fair way forward. Otherwise, the legal mess could be detrimental to everyone.

TOWLES TO START FOR KENTUCKY. Speaking of things players are free to do -- they are free to transfer. Sometimes there's good reason. Desire for playing time is probably the most-often cited. And with good reason. Fewer and fewer anymore are the guys like UK quarterback Patrick Towles, guys who probably have every reason to leave, but who stay and try to improve themselves. When these guys win, it's pretty easy to root for them.

Towles should have the kind of confidence that comes from staring into the teeth of Southeastern Conference defenses a year ago. He has the respect of his teammates for the work he has put in, and as a leader on the field. I didn't expect UK coach Mark Stoops' QB call to be for anyone else -- but Towles stands as an example of what patience and hard work can do.

GOOD TO BE HOME. (Please forgive me for a moment, Indiana readers. I have lived in your state and it is wonderful). I haven’t traveled all over the world. I have traveled all over this amazing country, though Puerto Rico last week was new to me.

I know, all people are partial to their home. I still don’t think I’ve been anywhere that can rival the blue grass of Kentucky, its horse farms, its sunsets peeking through the hills. There are very few places I go where I can’t pick out an analogous place somewhere within our borders.

Our politics are a mess. We don’t have a great deal of money in the state. Our rankings in everything but basketball are not to be envied. But those of us who live or grew up here have been blessed, all the same.

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.

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