The irony is too thick. In fact, it’s almost too much to handle. For the last 6 months, UK fans have been relentless in their constant attacking of Louisville and the fact that Rick Pitino and his staff were willing to give embattled former Wake Forest player, Tony Woods, a second chance. Today, word comes out that Woods visited UK and is now strongly considering the Cats. Funny how things work out sometimes. At first, Louisville was considered despicable for even considering taking in a “woman-beater” and having him be part of the program. Now it lookes like the tables have turned, and I’m sure he’s probably not that bad of a guy, according to Big Blue Nation.
To offer proper perspective, let’s rewind and go through the time-line for those that might not be aware of the entire situation. On Labor Day of 2010, Tony Woods was charged with three separate misdemeanors for physically abusing his girlfriend and the mother of their 1-year-old child. While under the influence of alcohol, Woods allegedly pushed her down and kicked her, ultimately causing her to fracture her spine. Woods took a relatively light sentencing and was put on probation and had to complete 100 hours of community service. He was also dismissed from Wake Forest’s team and sent packing from Winston-Salem. Fast-forward a few months later, and Woods’ name begins to pop up on the recruiting radar once again. A former top-50 player with incredible size and strength, someone was going to give him a second chance. As is turned out, that second chance would be here in Louisville.
Former Louisville assistant Tim Fuller had a great relationship with Tony Woods. The Wake Forest connection was there, and Fuller saw the potential in Woods. He persuaded head coach Rick Pitino to take a look at the kid and see if there was room for him at U of L. What Pitino saw was a raw talent and the potental to be a very solid center in the Big East. Pitino and his staff decided to take a risk and bring Woods to the city of Louisville, but only under a strict set of rules and guidelines. He would have to enroll at Jefferson Community College and take a full load of classes, take a part time job at UPS, stay in shape and work out on his own time, and keep his nose clean from any potential trouble. If he complied with these rules, he would seemingly be awarded with a roster spot on the 2011-2012 team, where he would be immediately eligible. By all accounts, Woods has made the most of his second chance and was a model citizen while living here in Louisville for much of the last year. But things have a funny way of working themselves out.
Flash back to 4 weeks ago, and Tim Fuller decides to leave Louisville for a higher level assistant job at Missouri. Along with him went the commitment and pledge of Tony Woods. Just days after the announcement that Fuller would leave, Woods’ former AAU coach Norman Walker came out and said that he would re-open his recruitment and that he would listen to other potential suitors. A direct slap in the face to the Louisville program that had been the first ones willing to take criticism and give the troubled player a second shot at big time college basketball. Where’s the loyalty?
I guess it left with a lower-level assistant coach. And with that, the endless criticism from sports writers, and the merciless torment from opposing fan bases. He won’t end up at Louisville. And neither will Rodney Purvis. Once you decommit from a school, there’s usually no going back. But back to the main point at hand. The ironic part about this whole situation, is that he could end up anywhere. Jason King of Yahoo Sports is reporting that he is looking at Texas, Cincinnati, and Missouri – and get this, UK. Yep, he actually took a visit last week and spent some quality time with John Calipari, and even Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart and President Lee Todd. Looking at UK’s 2011-2012 roster, there’s one position that seems incredibly thin. And it just so happens to be the same position that Tony Woods plays.
So, where will he end up this year? It’s hard to say at this point, but it certainly appears that the team 70 miles east is a very realistic possibility. Ironic, given the fact that their fans have been unforgiving and relentless in their bashing of Louisville for even trying to take a chance and see if the kid had changed. I’m sure some of our loyal UK commentors on this very site, ‘Mr. Lands’ and ‘TonyWoods’BabyMamma’, to name a few, would even agree that the mere thought of him even considering their school has to be a scary thought. Or is it?
It’s amazing how you can turn a blind eye to someone’s past if there’s something in it for you.