Vaught's Views: McKinney facing tough decision

July 16, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Ed McKinney always liked the way Rick Pitino coached. Now he may be understanding how the former Kentucky coach has felt the last few years.

Pitino made what seemed like an unthinkable move when he became the coach at Louisville, something that seemed unimaginable when he was making Kentucky a national power before leaving for the NBA.

Now McKinney, a successful boys basketball coach at Danville until resigning two years ago because he said he wanted to spend more time with his family, is considering becoming the new coach at Boyle County.

Maybe if McKinney was considering taking any other basketball coaching job, many would understand his desire to get back into coaching, especially without having to move his family. However, even if this is Title Town, it's still a town where most people are either pro-Boyle or pro-Danville with few in the middle.


It's an emotional issue, much like a divorce might be.

If McKinney takes the job - and it seems likely that he will today - it will have the same impact as a divorce might.

On the Danville side, some will view the parting as amicable and be able to keep almost the same relationship with McKinney. Others will take the parting much more personal and have bitter feelings, wondering how someone who professed his love can walk away from the thing he valued so much.

On the Boyle side, some will see the arrival as a fresh start both for him and the basketball family. They'll welcome him with open arms and not remember the past Boyle-Danville rivalry where he was sitting on the other side. Others in the Boyle family will wonder if they could not have done better when picking a mate and not want any part of the relationship.

On the Danville side, some will understand that he might not have been happy with his current teaching position and that led to his unhappiness. Others will wonder why spending time with his family that was so important two years ago now is not that important.

On the Boyle side, some will understand his passion for wanting to return to coaching without having to move. Others may wonder why he would be willing to accept a coaching position without knowing exactly what the teaching job would be.

On the Danville side, some former players will be glad to see him back doing what he enjoys. Other former players may never forgive him for finding a new mate.

On the Boyle side, some current players may embrace his outgoing personality. Other players might have trouble with him wearing black and gold instead of the blue and white he's had for 14 years.

Then there is the timing of the whole divorce. McKinney is also the cross country coach at Danville. If he leaves, those runners are going to be left spouse-less (or coachless) right when their season starts. That's not easy to accept, or forgive.

The worst thing about a divorce is that there usually is no right or wrong perspective. That's true here. No matter what McKinney does now, he's always going to be viewed a little differently. Either he flirted with a new mate and then came back to his old sweetheart for reasons he'll have to explain or he'll dump his long-time mate and hook up with her biggest rival.

So will the divorce be final today? The guess here is yes and that will put McKinney in the elite status of understanding Pitino perhaps better than anyone else in the Bluegrass.

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