Much has been said about how John Calipari has dominated on the recruiting trail since he has arrived at Kentucky. He has had a number one ranked class each and every year he has been a Wildcat and the main reason is the level of honesty he has with the recruits. Calipari is a straight shooter, does not promise the moon, and gives a realistic view of what life will be like at Kentucky.
I have never sat in on a John Calipari recruiting pitch, but it has to be structured to appeal to both the recruit and the parents. Parents are a great judge of BS, especially when their son is a top basketball recruit and they have heard every pitch hurled at them from the hordes of coaches that approach them. But in the end, they are able to sort through all of this and decide that they trust John Calipari to mentor and guide their most precious asset.
In the same way, Calipari has charmed the BBN with his words. The man does not promise national titles, but instead frequently downplays his team. He has been the one coach to successfully manage the sometimes crazy BBN in the internet age where every word he speaks is dissected and analyzed like tea leaves. I’d like to say that after following him for four years intently, that the man is perhaps the most honest, personable coach I have ever witnessed.
Plus the man keeps his promises.
Remember on the day he was announced as head coach of Kentucky? During his comments, he made a promise that I am sure many Kentucky fans forgot, but that somehow stayed lodged in my mind. He said that he would take the time to personally answer any handwritten piece of mail he received in his office. At the time, my BS meter went off, but the comment remained in the background of my mind.
I admit, I’m a cynic and though that this was just the standard promise that would be kept up for a month or two and then handed off to a staffer as time went on. However, I never really got around to resting his promise until about a month ago. First off, I had not sent an actual letter in years and I mail maybe two things a month due to the electronic age. But when sending the check for my health insurance (which is STILL not electronically debited), I also sat down and penned a short letter to Cal and threw it in the mail.
The response was quick. About three weeks. And I got this back in return:
I’ve seen Cal’s writing enough to know it was genuine and seriously was shocked I got a quick reply. But the man delivers on his word and promises – whether it’s to a five-star recruit or one of the millions of members of the BBN with a fanboy crush.
Well played, Coach Cal.