Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Fried Chicken, And University Of Kentucky Basketball

Submitted By jwrich93
Words: 2787
Pages: 12

Will Rich
Kentucky Studies
Dr. Moore
Critical Review
When one goes out of the state of Kentucky, there are three things that the vast majority of the public will associate with the state; those three things would be the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and University of Kentucky basketball. Basketball in Kentucky is an unrivaled tradition in this state and it’s fandom spreads much farther than the borders of the state. Just last year I was in Nassau in the Caribbean Islands and a local man noticed my University of Kentucky shirt and began doing the famous “C-A-T-S” chant. How did basketball become so huge in a region of the nation where football is to be the sport of choice? Every major industry has its baron, John D. Rockefeller with the standard oil company, Cornelius Vanderbilt with the railroad and shipping industry, and Adolph Rupp as Kentucky’s basketball baron. Adolph Rupp is one of the most influential people in Kentucky history. He created a winning environment and gave the state something to be very proud of in sports. With eight national titles and 2140 wins, the Kentucky Wildcats are to be considered the most successful college basketball program of all time. Winning four of those championships and 876 of those games, all fingers can be pointed at Adolph Rupp for creating an atmosphere for what has become the most celebrated tradition in college basketball, bringing an incredible amount of popularity to the state and it’s program. Russell Rice’s book Adolph Rupp, Kentucky’s Basketball Baron, was an excellent biography of Rupp’s life. Rupp was born in Kansas, and he attended a high school in which his graduating class was 16 people. Rupp went on to play basketball collegiately for the University of Kansas under legendary head coach Dr. “Phog” Allen. Who was the assistant coach? James Naismith, the inventor of the game itself. After graduation, Rupp went on to coach and teach at the high school level. Rupp has always been considered a winner. His assistant coach of many years said that some people are just born winners and Adolph was one of them. When coaching at the high school level Rupp discovered that he had not been hired to coach basketball but was there as the wrestling coach, Rupp had never seen a wrestling match but surrounded himself with people who had a knowledge of the sport. His team went undefeated and won the state title in Kansas. Upon Adolph Rupp’s first arrival in Kentucky he was not impressed. He said that Kentuckians did not live well and quite frankly did not eat well either. However, he loved basketball and this would be an opportunity to change the game for a fan base that enjoyed football so much more. Let’s face it: the basketball team’s record previously was 45-72. Rupp was not interested in a contract at first he just wanted to coach basketball, if he didn’t like it in Kentucky he said he would quit, if they didn’t like him they could fire him it was as simple as that. They both liked each other pretty well. In 1930, Adolph Rupp was named head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky because of one statement. Rupp told the AD and his staff: “You want to hire me because I am the best damned basketball coach that’s out there.” Rupp did not leave until he was forced into retirement in 1972. In Harry Lancaster’s book, Rupp as I Knew Him, Lancaster gives a representation of Rupp as a person. Rupp was a man of many different characteristics. He was a man that didn’t like to get close to anyone; however, he was very charismatic and brought life to a room upon entrance. People enjoyed being around him, with the exception of maybe his closest friend for many years, Harry Lancaster. He described Rupp as “plain rude.” Rupp was somewhat of an alcoholic; he took bourbon with him on every road trip and drank the bottle in its entirety after each game. He also kept bourbon in his office at the school but rarely drank it during the day. After his forced retirement you