Chris Dortch is busy putting together his Blue Ribbon College Basketball Tournament guide that will be available at midnight Sunday -- only six hours after the NCAA Tournament selections are announced.
However, during his stop in Atlanta for the Southeastern Conference Tournament, Dortch is a bit perplexed over the recent criticism of Kentucky coach Tubby Smith and the fact some UK fans want him fired.
"It is absurd, unfathomable. I just think if you look at his record on the whole, it's ridiculous," said Dortch. "And I keep pointing out it is a different SEC than when he took over 10 years ago. Basketball is being emphasized everywhere. It is just tougher to dominate now, and probably always will be now. A trend has been established that SEC basketball is here to stay. That's not going to change."
Dortch understands that UK fans might not want to accept that the Wildcats no longer will dominate conference play annually.
"Most definitely it is hard for UK fans to accept because you are talking about one of the most storied programs in college basketball. You are talking about one of the three or four most tradition rich programs in the game," Dortch said. "But the days of Adolph are gone. It is a new era. There is the 3-point goal, scholarship reductions, a shot clock. It has all made more parity in the game. Teams can rise up and beat others every year.
"C.M. Newton is full-time advisor to the league. That's never been done. The SEC is emphasizing basketball now because they see where the money is. It is just a different world from everyone and impossible for one team to dominate the way Kentucky used to. Fans have to understand that."
He says Alabama and Tennessee football fans have had a similar difficult transition and notes how the Kentucky football program has improved in recent years to where it can now challenge Tennessee and Alabama.
"A bunch of athletic directors around the league tell me when they hire a coach in any sport that the goal is to compete in the league because if they do that, then they can compete nationally. It is the same way in hoops. It is a different world. The game has changed and is being emphasized all across the league. Maybe that's hurting Tubby's perception in Kentucky, but it shouldn't," Dortch said.
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If you want a copy of the Blue Ribbon tourney guide, go to www.blueribbonyearbook.com or call 1-888-805-2255. The online edition is $9.99 and is guaranteed available at midnight Sunday. Two downloads will be allowed. The print version is $15 plus Fed-Ex charges and is scheduled to be at your address by 10 a.m. Tuesday. If you are looking for help with your NCAA brackets or just want to know info on every team, try this. Each team will have two pages, including a 1,500-word story, that includes loads of stats and analysis.