What other goodies lurk on Tubby's desk?
Cue the Bond music. I've put on my cat-burglar outfit and my night-vision goggles, and I'm breaking in.
Yes, in there. Into Tubby Smith's office at the University of Kentucky. It's time to inspect the man's desk, and see what other precious, program-changing artifacts can be found there.
Now be quiet while I silence the alarms and pick the lock, so we can get to the site of the Christmas Miracle in Lexington.
You've heard about it by now, right? The Immaculate Fax, missing for seven months, that Smith suddenly discovered? According to Smith, the fax that was lost on an airplane, or else it was lost on his desk, or maybe both -- oh, don't bother the man with the details of a coherent explanation -- has now been found. Whoever said miracles are easily explained?
The bottom line is that the fax materialized in Randolph Morris' -- and Kentucky's -- hour of acute need. It helped the 6-foot-10 center regain his eligibility for the second half of this season after he'd been suspended for the entire year just last week.
In case you haven't been following this long-running drama in the Theater of the Absurd, here's the quick recap: After a lackluster freshman year, Morris kissed off Kentucky last May for the NBA, delivering the news to coach Tubby Smith via fax from his hometown of Atlanta. The fax stated, "My intent is not to sign with an agent so as to maintain my college eligibility." That sentence returned from oblivion on Thursday to put Morris, undrafted and in limbo, back in uniform. With NCAA president Myles Brand suddenly taking an interest in the case, the Morris suspension was reduced to half the regular season. Additional information had changed the NCAA's mind. Which brings us back to the Immaculate Fax.
Media outlets filed Freedom of Information requests for the document way back last summer, and the school at first insisted it was privileged, then insisted it had been thrown away.
Now ... shazam! It's right there on ol' Tubby's desk -- just in time to help make the case for Morris' reinstatement. It's enough to warm your heart, isn't it?
UK assistant athletic director Sandy Bell adamantly told me Friday that the fax was just part of the evidence that swayed the NCAA, and not necessarily the biggest part. She said the rest of the evidence was "personal and confidential," which leaves us with nothing to really sink our teeth into but the Immaculate Fax.
"It's becoming a bigger issue than it ever really was," Bell said. "There's no need for that to happen."
Bell says the real news should be the cooperation between Kentucky and the NCAA to do the right thing by Randolph Morris. I'll leave that lovefest for someone else.
Here's the big issue: What else does Tubby have lying around on that desk?
That's why I'm in here right now. OK, let's examine this stack of papers...
Whooooaaaaa! Look at this!
National Letter of Intent, November 2001.
I, J.J. Redick, hereby commit to an athletic scholarship at the University of Kentucky...
Unbelievable! Tubby must have misplaced it four years ago. Maybe he can send this to the NCAA and get Redick in a UK uniform by January.
What else do we have here? Let's read the sticky note on this videotape:
Dear Tubby: I love the Cats and I've been breaking in to Assembly Hall all week to film Indiana's practices. If you watch this tape, you'll see that they're going to start A.J. Ratliff for the first time this year, and they're working hard with Marco Killingsworth to pass out of double-teams to the perimeter for 3-point shots. With this scouting report, you shouldn't have any trouble against the Hoosiers.
Dang. Looks like Tubby misplaced that, too. Could've used it last week, before the Wildcats were pounded by 26 in the RCA Dome.
OK, what's this? Ew. A half-eaten sandwich. Nice. What else?
To-do list, December 2003:
• Follow up on phone call from Dee Brown. Says he's looking to transfer from Illinois to Kentucky.
• Get back in touch with NBC about its $9 million-a-year offer to "make Kentucky its own Notre Dame deal."
• Return e-mails from American Express. They want me to shoot a series of commercials that could really help recruiting.
• Check out tape of some kid named LeBron. Keeps sending us video, saying he wants to come here. Not sure we need him. We've already got Bernard Cote.
Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.
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