Kentucky basketball is back, without question, but UK is not Duke. In fact, in the modern era, they have a long way to go.
I am an SEC fan and have been all my life. I have been outside of Rupp Arena and waited three hours for a chance to go inside for a Louisville-UK matchup in '93. As good as Denny Crum and the Cardinal Bird could be, his teams never matched the magic of the Joe B. Hall, Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith eras.
Same for UK in comparison to Duke in the Krzyzewski era. Coach K is now in his 30th year as head coach of the Blue Devils. He has 760 wins and his teams have suffered 215 losses while serving as head coach at Duke University.
J.B. Hall has a record of 273-100 while head coach at Kentucky from 1972-1985. He won one title in '78. He followed the legendary Adolph Rupp and kept Kentucky basketball in the national spotlight. Hall was National Coach of the Year in 1978 and was honored with the title as SEC Coach of the Year on four separate occasions.
Eddie Sutton followed J.B. Hall as head coach. He had 88 wins against 39 losses in four years and produced the darkest stain on the tapestry of UK lore. He was tossed after going 13-19 and involving UK in the biggest (exposed) pay to play scandal in NCAA history.
Why UK did not receive the death penalty is beyond comprehension. He destroyed lives of players and staff on his way out of Lexington.
UK went 18 years without a National Championship. Pitino restored respectability to the program and took UK back to glory. In 1992, at the NCAA East Regional in Philadelphia's Spectrum Arena, in a head to head match up with Duke, one of the greatest moments of college basketball memory was forged in the Kentucky-Duke series.
Need I say more. Duke won the battle. It hurts me as an SEC fan to recall the loss.
Pitino finally won a title in 1996. He immediately left for the professional ranks after losing the title game to Arizona in 1997.
Tubby Smith redeemed the UK program in the follow up head to head matchup against Duke in '98. He went on to win the national title game. He won the title in '98 without an All-American on the roster, a feat never achieved by any head coach before or after coach Smith.
Tubby Smith reached the 100 win mark faster than any UK coach in the modern era. Smith kept Kentucky on top of the SEC and in the national title hunt throughout his 10 year career but it wasn't enough for UK fans. In 2003, Smith had a perfect 16-0 regular season record. In 2005, he was named AP coach of the year.
In 2007, he resigned from the head coach position at UK due to pressure from UK boosters and took the job at Minnesota.
Through thick and thin the Duke fans and the Duke Administration have stood behind their head coach, Mike Krzyzewski. He has suffered some dark moments in his life and his teams have suffered.
But along the way, Coach K has brought Duke University three national titles, 10 final four appearances, 11 ACC tournament and 11 regular season championships, and 25 NCAA tournament bids.
During Krzyzewski's tenure, Duke basketball has been ranked in the nations Top 25 for 429 weeks, 327 weeks in the Top 10 and 93 weeks ranked as No 1 in all of college basketball.
They have also withstood tough times together.
He is already in the Hall of Fame and been named 12 times as National Coach of the Year. There is no comparison to what he and Duke basketball have accomplished. He has never landed the Duke program on probation, he has never been accused of cheating.
If you like being hated, tout your UK history all day long, but just don't compare yourself to Duke. There is not comparison. Krzyzewski and Duke got it goin' on!