It’s rare to see two programs from the same school arguing about the current state of athletics. But this was the case for Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari and football coach Mark Stoops on Thursday.
Whether he meant malice or not, Calipari decided to use the football program as an argument for why the basketball program needed better facilities.
Update: Kentucky coach Mark Stoops is scheduled to meet with the media on Saturday and the Wildcats have announced that athletic director Mitch Barnhart will also have a press conference following Stoops.
We all know the head coach of the Kentucky basketball team will do or say just about anything to promote his program. But throwing shade at the football team wasn’t necessary. Kentucky could do a better job at making sure its basketball facility is one of the best in the country, but how Calipari is trying to get there is a problem.
UK president Eli Capilouto has done a great job delivering on upgrades to multiple athletics facilities. Whether it’s investing $200 million in the new football facility or building a track facility in 2012, the Lexington campus continues to grow. Calipari has a problem with the Joe Craft Center, where the Wildcats practice, mentioning a leak in the roof that forced the team to stop practicing last week. He could’ve stopped right there and gotten his point across, but he decided to take it a step further.
John Calipari: ‘Basketball School’
While discussing the upgrades to other sports facilities across campus, Calipari took a subtle jab at the football program. Saying that Kentucky is a “basketball school” is not the end of the world, but downplaying the football program in the process is where the uproar began.
“This is a basketball school. It’s always been that,” John Calipari said. “Alabama is a football school. So is Georgia. I mean, they are. No disrespect to our football team. I hope they win 10 games and go to bowls. At the end of the day, that makes my job easier and it makes the job of all of us easier. But this is a basketball school. And so we need to keep moving in that direction and keep doing what we’re doing.”
Hearing him say it on tape isn’t much better either, if you want to take it a step further.
Instead of misleading quotes being put out, here’s what John Calipari actually said today with some context behind it
(via KSR Digital/YT) pic.twitter.com/zADhpg9yo1
— Tres Terrell (@TerrellTres) August 11, 2022
Why say that he hopes the football team wins 10 games, when he damn well knows that they could win 12 or even a championship. It’s because he doesn’t care about anything else besides his basketball program. We will likely see Calipari comment soon that he didn’t mean to slight the football program, and that he gets along great with everyone inside the football offices.
But Mark Stoops wasn’t going to just let it slide once someone made him aware of the comments, nor should he. He also took a subtle jab of his own, pointing out they’ve won four straight postseason games, while Kentucky was coming off a loss to Saint Peter’s in the NCAA tournament.
— Mark Stoops (@UKCoachStoops) August 11, 2022
It didn’t just stop with Stoops, as multiple players and coaches got in on the action by either tweeting or retweeting responses on social media.
It’s fair to say that Kentucky is known for the basketball program, obviously. All the current and former NBA stars who played in Lexington is one example. Having Big Blue Nation filling up the bleachers in the Bahamas this week for practice is another.
Yes, basketball is king, but you don’t have to crap on the football program to get upgraded facilities. What Mark Stoops is doing for Kentucky football is a big accomplishment. It’s taken a while to build, but it’s much better than when he started.
After the UK Twitter battle Thursday afternoon, other SEC schools pounced on the opportunity. “Everything School” was a familiar refrain.
— Auburn Basketball (@AuburnMBB) August 12, 2022
Tennessee AD Danny White tweeted out support of something Josiah Jordan-James had posted.
These comments from John Calipari show cracks in the foundation of the UK athletic department. There’s no reason to give other schools the ammunition needed on the recruiting trail or that the school doesn’t have the best interest of the basketball team.
We all remember what happened the last time Calipari’s team played a competitive game. So always watch out for return fire if you’re going to throw the first shot.