Parsons: Hall deserved more credit

With all the hoopla over the arrival of Billy Gillispie at Kentucky, I decided to ask long-time UK assistant coach Dicky Parsons if he felt former coach Joe Hall ever got the credit he deserved for following Adolph Rupp.

Naturally, Parsons is biased because he coached under Hall. However, he also played for Rupp and coached under Rupp. He remains a season ticket holder and passionate Kentucky fans.

"I am not sure that anyone could replace Adolph Rupp, but coach Hall did that pretty well. We had some good basketball teams," Parsons said. "It was a fun thing to do. I had chances to leave Kentucky, but I never could bring myself to do it because coach Hall gave me a lot of responsibility. I couldn't leave the University of Kentucky because I loved the program that much.

"In all fairness to coach Hall, I am not sure he received the credit he should have then. History plays a big role in that and I think he is recognized now for doing a good job. I would say he probably gets more credit now than he did then, which is kind of ironic considering he did win the 1978 national championship."

Parsons has yet to meet Gillispie. However, he thinks the new coach may well have what it takes to succeed based on what happened when he called UK equipment manager to try and get Gillispie to autograph a basketball to raffle at a recent UK senior barnstorming game.

"Bill Keightley said, ‘I don't even know where he is and I don't think we could find him.' He was out on the road recruiting and we had no opportunity get a basketball signed," Parsons said. "I read an article in Sports Illustrated about him before he brought his Texas A&M team to Rupp Arena for the NCAA Tournament. It said he was divorced, had no children and no dogs, and nothing in the refrigerator. That is the kind of basketball coach you like to have around, especially at Kentucky where it is so demanding."

Parsons thinks the passion for UK could be even more intense than when he coached because there are so many more televised games. "With TV and way the press covers the college game, there is tremendous interest and everyone is striving to make it to the Final Four. That has always been important for the Kentucky basketball program, but it is even more so today," Parsons said. However, he does think there was something about the love fans had for UK years ago that will never be duplicated.

"All the games were on the radio in the time I can remember when I was young with Claude Sullivan and Cawood Ledford doing the announcing. The thing to do if you lived in the mountains where I grew up was to listen to Kentucky basketball on the radio. You might have to go out in the yard to get good reception, but we did that. It was a different day, a different time. But you literally lived and died with Kentucky basketball because that's all you had. I am not sure we will ever see those days again," Parsons said.


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