By now, if you have ESPN, you probably think that John Calipari went and said the Kentucky Wildcats were more famous than Jesus … and the Beatles.
In reality, it was nothing even close to that. It was vintage Calipari at his best striking out at the odd and random poll bias that has affected UK since Calipari won the national title. In a week where UK and Duke, both went 1-1. Kentucky dropped from 11 to 18 while Duke shot from 17 to 11 on the basis they played Syracuse really close and lost.
Close only counts in hand grenades and the AP voters poll, apparently. And Calipari was not happy.
I said this after the game to the TV, this is the most overanalyzed team I’ve ever seen in the history of the game, at any level, in any sport. There is a weekly update on what we are and what we’re not.
“Then they go to Synergy, and take out every play to show where we’ve — I’ve never seen it. Our losses are worse than every other loss in the country. We lose, you’re not in the top 25. Now you understand LSU has three NBA players, a junior guard and a senior guard. They’re no schmoe team now. At the end of the day, they’ll be in the NCAA tournament. LSU is good. This team has to deal with that. I went and told them. I told them before the ranking I thought we’d be as low as 19. I said, “It will be 17, 18, and 19, so when I was right I asked the staff, when is the last time I was wrong? They said 1978. I think it was ’78. Might have been ’77, but I think it was ’78, though. …
“They can deal with all the crap. They’ve dealt with it here. You need me to say anything else? I’ll keep going if you want.”
And what happened was a full-fledged media freakout. Not everyone freaked of course. Some national writers like Matt Norlander have seen Calipari talk enough to know that Calipari usually has a message behind the message and he is not afraid to send it.
Said it before, and it applies tonight yet again: John Calipari is a maestro. About eight to 10 times a year, on a national level, he’ll say something that will get serious run in the headlines. Often times, what he says makes headlines because it has an element of surprise. Where’s this coming from, John?
He and Kentucky make the sport more interesting, and for that most media members are grateful. Calipari is very intent with his words and when he chooses to say what he says. So his gripe against local and national media after Kentucky’s 80-64 home win over Ole Miss Tuesday night comes as something of a surprise — and will definitely cause some waves.
That said, I still don’t know WHO the message was directed at, but I’m sure that the target was in the press room.
In true puppet mode however, ESPN, dropped into full 24/7 coverage of “Calipari-gate” as if Tim Tebow was involved. Cal’s comments were featured on “PTI” where one of the least informed and most hysterical talking head Tony Kornheiser beat the comment like a dead horse. And the rest of ESPN followed suit.