It is an indisputable fact that the Kentucky Wildcats Men’s Basketball program is King in the state of Kentucky. What John Calipari has done to turn this team around after the departure of Billy Gillispie is nothing short of what the Big Blue Nation expected. We watched what he did at UMass and Memphis prior to accepting the head coaching job here in the Bluegrass. The one thing I find interesting is just how Kentucky fans react to Rick Pitino. It’s puzzling to hate such a successful coach at Kentucky.
I venture to guess that if John Calipari had been hired, instead of Rick Pitino, to guide UK out of probation in 1989 and back to prominence in college basketball, then left for the money of Boston, the Big Blue Nation would undoubtedly hate John Calipari. Of course there are some similarities between the two coaches that most true basketball fans are aware of but Rick Pitino will always be seen as the villain because (#1.) He left UK and (#2) He went to Louisville. What other reasons matter?
Though given all that, I will not call UK-UL a rivalry because a rivalry implies there is a give and take with the wins and losses where each school wins nearly as many as they lose but that’s simply not the case since Calipari has arrived. It hasn’t been the case in the past 20 years really. It’s amazing how short a memory we have at the Big Blue Nation because we loathe to give credit to Pitino for National Championship #6 and #7 (though technically Tubby Smith was the coach of that team). In a “what have you done for me lately” society, we just remember he left us for the greener pastures of the Boston Celtics and failed there to his current job at “little brother” where solidified his place as our arch enemy.