After a couple of days of teasing the media and the Big Blue Nation about a new slogan, Coach John Calipari unveiled his choice at the press conference Friday from the NCAA Final Four site. Cal has not been shy about voicing his displeasure with the negative connotations surrounding the current “One and Done” tag hung on the elite freshmen basketball players expected to declare for the NBA after just one year in school. He expressed his desire to have a new slogan with a more positive message and hopefully change the media and fans’ perception of these athletes. The slogan chosen was “Succeed and Proceed” and Cal wasted no time in promoting that to its fullest as the players already had t-shirts printed, ready to be worn in a Final Four photo shoot.
But will this slogan achieve Cal’s goal? Will the perception of Kentucky as an “NBA Development Team” change? That remains to be seen. In the slogan’s favor, it is catchy with the rhyming. Other successful slogans, such as “Refuse to Lose” and “One and Done” had that same quality. Another plus is the positive message it conveys. You must first succeed (in school) before you can proceed (NBA or other professional league). We in the Big Blue Nation know how passionate Cal is about having a “players first” program. He wants every player to succeed. He wants every player to proceed. We “get it.” And you can never underestimate Cal’s power with the press. By sunset, “Succeed and Proceed” was trending nationally on Twitter.
However, the “One and Done” phrase is pretty firmly rooted in the media. There are some who would like to suggest that Cal himself invented “One and Done”, and thus is the source of all that is wrong with college basketball. The more educated, however, understand this was a David Stern rule. The NBA mandated that a player be “19 years of age or have completed his freshman year of college” in order to declare for the NBA draft. No matter how loudly and how often Calipari states his objection to this rule, however, there will still be naysayers who proclaim how much Cal loves this current state of affairs. “Succeed and Proceed” will not fit into the agendas of those writers and I suspect many will never embrace it, and some may never even acknowledge it.
Beyond that, what will be the future of the slogan should new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver decide to change the “one and done” rule? Again, Calipari has been vocal of his desire for the requirement to be modified where student athletes must complete their sophomore years. Should that indeed happen, I could see “Two and Through” being the new buzz phrase. Again, negative connotations would go along with that phrase, but it seems that is what the media wants. The media wants a villain. And the media has decided that villain is Coach John Calipari and the University of Kentucky Basketball Program.
Whatever the outcome, the Big Blue Nation will not waver with their support of their program. They will not stop loving their team and they most certainly will not stop traveling everywhere to see their Cats play. Whether it’s with a roster of upperclassmen or a starting five of “one and dones”, the BBN will be behind their Wildcats all the way. And as we await the tip-off for our National Semi-Final game with Wisconsin, I know our fans are more than ready to see the Cats succeed and proceed to Monday night’s Championship Final.