Kentucky basketball: Calipari rant, childish behavior threatens all UK athletics

Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari ( Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari ( Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports) /

In the span of what is an all-too-common 12-minute rant after a simple question Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari is threatening to undermine and crumble not only his Kentucky basketball program but possibly all of the UK athletic department.

Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart has a well-oiled machine in all his departments well respected nationally from titles and champions in rifle to volleyball to track and so on.

However, Calipari chose to fire a rocket launcher from the beaches in the Bahamas where his team was playing at Mark Stoop’s football program and basically all the other Kentucky athletic coaches as well in a single comment because King Cal is throwing a temper tantrum.

It came after about a couple of media were invited to watch a film session after the first game in the Bahamas and a few stayed around to chat with Calipari.

Then Calipari started preaching about wanting a new practice facility.

When Kyle Tucker of the Athletic posted this tweet the volcano erupted.

While this quietly could have died, and never should have happened, to begin with, Calipari has now started shifting the athletic plates much like a geographic one creating devasting earthquakes and Kentucky athletics could crumble.

All the UK athletic programs know where they fit, and it’s a nice puzzle that fits well together… so we thought.

Calipari thinks he is indestructible and should get whatever he wants and when he doesn’t he pouts and grabs a microphone and starts preaching.

He can’t simply answer a question with a simple answer. He alienates all the fans as well who want to call into his weekly radio show but when Tom Leach asks a question the answer lasts up till the next commercial break.

Big Blue Nation has come to expect this and normally shrugs it off, but when you throw stones this time Stoops picked up his own rocks and fired back.

The difference between Calipari and Stoops is that you feel the honesty and passion in Stoops while Calipari’s comments always seemed off the cuff but with a calculated move. Calipari’s above comment and followed by this from Mark Stoops in response.

"“I don’t care what anybody says about their program. That’s not my business. That’s not my lane, but when you start talking about my program and others that we compete against — me? I don’t do that. I stay in my lane. So that’s in defense of my players, defense of the work that we’ve done. Believe me. We want to continue to push, but don’t demean or distract from the hard work and the dedication and the commitment people have done to get to this point.“Again, I don’t need to apologize for that and I won’t. But we want more and we want to continue to push that. There are so many people, so many fans, so many coaches, so many players that have sacrificed to improve at the level we’ve improved at. We all know, this program wasn’t born on third base. Some may, but I can promise you this football team didn’t wake up on third base. We did a lot of work. We did a lot of work.”"

Can you just imagine what Stoops felt when he learned of this all the while preparing for the season to begin in three weeks and the first time UK has been ranked to start the season ranked No. 21 in the coaches poll?

It has become a volatile issue that has not only filtered down to the coaches but now the players and has led to other athletic programs across the Southeastern Conference poking fun at how solid and unified their respective coaches are.

Barnhart had to step in on Saturday and was visibly angry over the feud that harkens back to the Hatfields and McCoys. This may be bigger now and take Kentucky President Eli Capilouto bringing in his big whooping stick.

That also would not be a good look for the school at all but has already boiled into an embarrassment. Barnhart spoke to the media on Saturday.

"“As adults, we’re responsible for leading young people,” Barnhart said. “What we are doing today is laying a foundation for generational leadership. For today and for the future, adults are supposed to teach the children. However, what occurred this week is not who we are. It’s not who we want to be. And I’ve communicated that directly, and we will continue to work our way through that.”"

In the end, Calipari lit the fire, and unfortunately, Stoops and Barnhart were forced to pour gas on it and it exploded into a national story.

Calipari could easily be replaced. Stoops’ departure would send all the work he has done to build Kentucky football to where it is and the excitement level of being ranked for the first time ever in the preseason coaches poll last week come crashing down.

Even if Cal didn’t mean to do it the damage is done.

If you want a new practice facility then bring it up in the meetings you have with Barnhart. Do it the way all the other coaches do it and every other business out there does.

Calipari will be out of the limelight now and needs a timeout until basketball practice begins. It’s time for Stoops’ moment in the spotlight and he deserves that.

Next. Kentucky ranked No. 21 in preseason football coaches poll. dark