(Image via Sports Illustrated)
This is not a hit piece, let's be clear up front. I like Jay Williams, a lot actually. I even got to meet him back in 2019 when ESPN College GameDay came to Lexington and he couldn't have been nicer to me. But, when I get a chance to call out a Dukie on their horrible takes, you best believe I'm going to.
This morning on his radio show, joined by Max Kellerman and Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams decided to ruffle some feathers throughout the Commonwealth by leaving off this storied - I emphasize storied - program from his version of College Basketball's Mount Rushmore of programs. The former Duke guard selected North Carolina, Kansas, Duke, and... UConn. “They’ve won five chips since the year 1999,” Williams says. “Blue bloods, to me, means there’s a sustainability of success. There’s a relevancy factor. And I think UConn for the last couple of years has been relevant since Dan Hurley has rejuvenated this team." Williams continued with, “I look at the success they’ve had over the years and there’s no question they’re one of the blue bloods."
The University of Connecticut, who has won five National Championships in the last quarter-century deserve quite the credit. Since 1999, they've churned out 8 Elite Eights, 6 Final Fours, and 5 Titles. Since John Calipari got to Kentucky, they've earned 3 Sweet Sixteens, 3 Final Fours, and 3 Titles. An impressive run to say the least, and one that has sparked the debate for college basketball fanatics of, do they actually belong in the blue-blood conversation?
While it doesn't necessarily feel correct, if you're going off statistics, they should be. I have always preached that numbers do not lie, and if I'm going to hold myself accountable, I have to lean yes. Because the numbers are extremely impressive. So as of today, there is definitely a valid argument for giving them a newfound title of "blue-blood", even if it does make you feel queasy on the inside. BUT, this isn't what this piece is about. This is completely about the fact that Kentucky got booted off that list for the school, and that is not what I'm okay with. And using the same standard of numbers not lying, then I think you say Kentucky's second-most wins all-time in college basketball history and their second-most earned National Championships say otherwise as well. I understand Kentucky hasn't had a lot of recent success, but you don't use recency bias when deciding on your all-time rankings.
The four undisputed Mount Rushmore of blue-bloods in college basketball should sit at Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, and Duke, with sixth and seventh man rotations consisting of UCLA then UConn.
If anything, UNC is on the edge of that list in terms of being kicked out of the four. Yes, they make it to the title game quite a bit, but they never actually win it. Kansas just won one last year and they even passed Kentucky for all-time wins. Duke has won two titles during the Cal era while the Tarheels have won just one. I completely get the whole debate, I just think Kentucky is the very last team you kick off the Mount Rushmore of college basketball's most successful programs, even if it has been a little rough the last few seasons. A handful of years don't discredit a century-plus of greatness. Quit this, Jay.