In the wake of super recruit Malik Monk’s announcement he would sign with Kentucky, not Arkansas, there was much knashing of teeth and beating of breast among the Arkansas faithful.
No fan, follower or local outdid Razorback Nation analyst Mike Irwin, though, when it came to a show of flat-out passion. Irwin, dean of Arkansas sportscasters, walked into the Fayetteville studio of the sports radio show The Forum on Wednesday and gave an instant classic of a jeremiad against the particular circumstances surrounding Malik’s decision.
Perhaps you will agree with Irwin’s sentiment below. Or, perhaps you flinch, and agree with KentuckySportsRadio.com’s Drew Franklin in dubbing it “a perfect, flawless, grumpy-old-man rant.” Whatever you think, you can’t deny the following transcript isn’t some seriously provocative radio:
On whether Arkansas fans are right to knash those teeth and beat those breasts:
Mike Irwin: They’ll be fine because in my opinion they’re reacting the right way. You don’t tell fans what they’re supposed to do when a situation like this happens. I don’t want to be lectured by somebody if I’m a fan. You had a guy [Marcus Monk] who went to school here. He played for Arkansas and he had a brother that happened to be one of the top players in the country.
For two to three years he played the situation. Don’t tell me he didn’t play it; he got all kinds of favors done, wheels were greased. I don’t think anybody broke NCAA rules but favors were done. People helped because they wanted this kid to be a Razorback. You’re going to tell these people now, ‘Hey it’s okay, it’s all right, he just made a business decision. Oh, he couldn’t come because there would be too much pressure.’ He hasn’t pressure like he’s going to see now. He’s nobody; he will become nobody to most Razorbacks.”
There will be a few out there that always have their nose in the air and walk around going, ‘Oh you’re just letting athletics get too big in your life. You need to stop and realize it’s his life.’
Yes it is his life. You know what he could have done from day one? He could have stood up and said, “Guess what people, I’ve enjoyed growing up in this state but I’m not going to college here so don’t do me any favors. I’m just going to play basketball here for the next two years but I’m letting you know right now I’m not coming. I will go out-of-state.”
If you do that you’ve got no problems, but when you sit here and benefit and benefit and benefit, and then you go, ‘I’m going to go play for this guy over here that’s running a pro team on a college level.’
There are no words that can come out of my mouth that would more express contempt for John Calipari and what he’s done. The only people I’m madder at is the NCAA for allowing this to happen. It is a joke; it is a joke to come up with these APR rules and all these graduation program plans you have to follow…. [Irwin goes on to explain why he dislikes the NBA’s “one-and-done” allowance for college players to enter the draft, and why he hates pro sports]
On the old days, before pro sports became such big money:
When you grew you became a man and you got a job… I’m so old that when I was a kid pro football players didn’t make the kind of money they make now. The college guys were the big shots.
A lot of college guys could make more money after they got their degree going out becoming lawyers and engineers. Somehow it got huge and it turned everything into money. It turned a game I love, which is college football, into a money thing with everybody. A part of that is just anger over that…
Back to Malik Monk:
As far as Monk, as far as I’m concerned the good kid knew all along this what he was going to do and everybody got played. That’s the part that is disgusting. Not that you don’t have a right to do that – you do. You have a right to go to whatever school you want to, it’s your life – but be freaking honest about it. Tell people, “This is where I’m going. This is what I’m going to do.”
None of this “Oh we’re going to move Northwest Arkansas because that’s a better situation at home. You’ve got to help me with my AAU tournaments and all this stuff and then [juicy mouth sound] we’re gone.”
Still more anger at the current system:
As I said before I’m more angry at the NCAA than I am at Calipari. I’m angry at him because you don’t like somebody taking something like that and turning it into trash. But they’ve allowed that to happen.
Bobby Knight said it five or six years ago – this is garbage. There’s a way to stop this. The NCAA could step in and say, “We will penalize any school that has a one and done a scholarship.” You have a guy that comes in one year and jumps at the NBA you lose the scholarship the next year. Kentucky would be out of business in two or three years if they did that.
They could do that; why haven’t they done it? They have gone on record as saying, “We’re all about you going and being a student-athlete. We’re all about you going to school and getting your degree.” At least stay three years which is what baseball is. With baseball you can leave after three years. A lot of these baseball players virtually have their degree in three years, if they don’t they’re close. That if you go in and you don’t make it through the minor league system, they’ll even come back and pay for you to go back to school for whatever’s left so you can get that degree. You can look at that and at least justify.
What is this? This is a mockery of college athletics. It’s also this whole issue of you’re going to sit here and accept favor after favor after favor from people and keep them hanging. “Well you know I’m not sure what I’m going to do.” This goes on for three years and all of a sudden it’s just, “Sorry, too much pressure. I’m going to leave, go out-of-state.
I think Mike Irwin is being pretty harsh here. I know, for instance, Malik Monk was very open from the beginning about his intention of becoming an NBA superstar and I think it would have hurt the Hogs even more if had announced as a high school sophomore he wouldn’t attend the University of Arkansas no matter what. I doubt he even knew for sure at that point.
Second of all, if he did and he announced that – without even giving Arkansas time to first seriously recruit and host him – Hog fans would be even more angry at him than they are now. An announcement like that from Malik in his 10th grade year would have hurt Arkansas’ recruiting efforts for longer than that the announcement in his 12th grade year.