Rivalries are what make sports fun, and the Kentucky and Florida rivalry on the hardwood has become one of the better ones in college basketball.
Stemming from the Billy Donovan days in Gainesville and John Calipari still in Lexington, this rivalry has picked up some real steam and vitriol. That disdain regularly spills over to the fan bases. Over the weekend, that was the case as the Wildcats beat the Gators in Lexington. The win while great wasn’t really what made for great talk surrounding the game; it was more about longtime volunteer usher “Doug The Blue Coat” flipping the bird to some rowdy Gator fans in the stands.
Gotta love the Blue Coat Bird Flip to end the game pic.twitter.com/f4YzdNwEvf
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) February 5, 2023
For his actions, Doug was relieved of his duties on Monday, Feb. 6. Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio tweeted out the following about the situation.
“Doug the Blue Coat called into KSR and said UK Athletics told the Committee to no allow him to be a Blue Coat anymore because he flipped the bird at the Florida game. He said he has done the games for 19 years, loves the students and is sad. We need to help. #FreeDoug.”
Finding rowdy college students at a high-level college basketball game is normal, and from reports, this group was really over the top. And it seems as if Doug had enough of their antics and let his raw emotion get the best of him. Was it right? No. Should he be fired from a volunteer job? No. Maybe suspended.
Even the fans that Doug flipped off want to see him reinstated as a Blue Coat.
#freedoug @GatorsMBK @KentuckyMBB @UKCoachCalipari @CoachToddGolden @UFBarstool @UF @KySportsRadio @delatorre @TheAlligator @SECNetwork pic.twitter.com/2STGANtr50
— Robert Streit (@rstreit13) February 6, 2023
Doug Showed More Fire Than Kentucky Has Most Of The Season
Doug is a second-generation Blue Coat with his grandfather having served with the fraternity of Big Blue Nation. The responsibility of a Blue Coat is to love their team and usher fans to and from their respective seats, while helping to maintain peace in the stands. That’s why Doug’s reaction to the rowdy Gators fans was shocking, but it showed some real fire, something the Cats have been missing most of the season.
Despite Saturday’s win, the Cats’ band of highly touted recruits still haven’t looked like the team they can or should be. Coach Calipari stresses toughness and grit, and to this point of the season that hasn’t been Kentucky’s calling card. On Saturday and in a big road win over top five-ranked Tennessee is when the Wildcats really showed their physical prowess. That starts and ends with reigning National Player of the Year: center Oscar Schiebwe.
Assistant coach Orlando Antigua told reporters this on Monday:
“Physically, I think as the season has gone on, we’ve gotten into a great rhythm in terms of what we determine we need to do with this team in terms of controlling the glass when Oscar Schiebwe isn’t rebounding the ball — other teammates have to step in and rebound,” Antigua said Monday.
Listless losses to inferior opponents, poor rebounding efforts and shaky defense has defined Kentucky this season. That changed in Saturday’s big home win.
Maybe Doug’s bird flipping is what will be remembered as the Cats continue to try salvage their season. Maybe it could be used as a sort of rallying cry as we head to conference tourney and March Madness.
Is Coach Cal On The Seat Hot?
Coach Cal is probably safe as far as job security goes, and that’s more so because of his massive contract extension in 2019 that runs until 2028-29 at about $9M per season. Calipari’s production has not matched his salary. He’s produced some very uninspiring NCAA tourney results and won just a single NCAA championship despite annually hauling in a top recruiting class in the nation. Duke’s the only school to best Kentucky in recruiting class ranking since the one-and-done era of freshmen leaving after one year in school, began in 2010.
Is Coach Cal on the Hot Seat at Kentucky.
Kentucky hasn’t won a National Championship since 2012 when they had Anthony Davis.
— Caleb George (@calebcgeorge13) March 22, 2022
That isn’t good enough in Lexington, where they eat, sleep and you know what Kentucky basketball. And when it isn’t playing up to standards, the noise echoes louder and louder weekly.