Grant Merrill

Why I don’t blame Malik for going to Kentucky

There are a lot of people who were furious when Malik Monk bolted for the Wildcats. You can be mad all you want, it doesn’t change the fact that similar scenarios are going to continue to unfold on the hill when the blue chips are presented with Arkansas, and a school like Kentucky.

Columnist Grant Merrill talks with Malik Monk on the Arkansas Radio Network in July 2013

There are a lot of people who were furious when Malik Monk bolted for Kentucky.

Yes, I realize that when he moved to Bentonville and somehow Mama got a job there, he was beholden to Arkansas in the minds of many fans. At that point, everyone expected him to immediately announce his undying allegiance to the Razorbacks when coaches and players were attending his games every Tuesday and Friday, when hundreds who had never been to a BHS sporting event packed the gym just to get a glimpse of him.

But we all know that didn’t happen, and while you can be mad all you want, it doesn’t change the fact that similar scenarios are going to continue to unfold on the hill when the blue chips are presented with Arkansas, and a school like Kentucky.

Trust me, I am not a fan of the Big Blue Nation.

If I had the chance to take the nickel tour of Hell or take the nickel tour of John Calipari’s office, I’d have to think long and hard about it. But anyone who watched the ballgame earlier can see that like Alabama in football, Kentucky is head and shoulders above any team in the SEC. They’ll probably prove at the end of the year that they are above any team in college basketball.

Yeah, they probably send truckloads of money to their recruits too. But it doesn’t change their image in college basketball as the best of the best.

Malik Monk wanted the best for his future. I know we wanted to see him in red, but given the state of Arkansas basketball can you really blame him for wanting to Lexington?

If you are an eighteen year old kid, and you see the quality of players that continually choose Kentucky, and then get immediate consideration for the NBA, are you going to give Arkansas a second thought? Probably not.

But if Arkansas gets it’s basketball program back to where it was in the era of Corliss, Scotty, and Nolan – heck yeah, you are going to give the Razorbacks strong consideration.

Given the product we’ve been given at Bud Walton in the Heath, Pelphrey, and Anderson eras, I don’t blame Malik for a minute for going to Kentucky, because we do not have a winning culture at the University of Arkansas. Until our leadership in the athletic department embraces the idea that it is about wins and losses, and our coaches are held to a greater accountability, it isn’t going to happen either.

You want people to fill those seats? You want constant sellouts at Bud Walton and Razorback Stadium?

Start acting like a championship program, where a 7-5 football season isn’t the gold standard. Because if he doesn’t hold his programs to the same standard his SEC counterparts in Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge do, Jeff Long needs to go.

Then, we need to find leadership at the top that will start running this program like the business it should be, and not the Webster’s dictionary definition of mediocrity.

I love this program as much as anyone in America, but I can’t continue to be happy just settling for the same old song and dance.

Our fans deserve so much better.

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