If you’ve been on vacation in some remote area and are just now getting cell service, you missed a lot over the past few days involving Kentucky athletics. It started with John Calipari taking a jab at the football program and ended with Mark Stoops reminding folks “I stay in my lane,” all while athletic director Mitch Barnhart watched.
It all started Thursday, when Calipari started to discuss the need for a new practice facility on campus for the basketball program.
“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.”
These moments sparked Mark Stoops to come out on social media and take his own jab at Calipari, leading to a firestorm on social media from players and coaches.
All of this banter led to Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart to come out of his cave and meet with the media Saturday afternoon, but not before Mark Stoops could address Coach Calipari’s comments.
“I don’t care what anybody says about their program, that’s not my business, that’s not my lane,” Stoops said. “But, when you start talking about my program and others we compete against, I don’t do that, I stay in my lane. So that’s in defense of my players, defense of the work we’ve done and believe me, we wanna continue to push. But don’t demean or distract from the hard work and the dedication, commitment that people have done to get to this point. Again, I don’t need to apologize for that and I won’t.”
Stoops also made it a point to say that his program wasn’t born with a golden spoon and that his group has put in the work and earned everything they’ve gotten.
“Listen, we all know this program wasn’t born on third base. Some may, but I can promise you this football program didn’t wake up on third base, we did a lot of work.”
Mitch Barnhart Addresses Calipari-Stoops Saga
AD Mitch Barnhart then took the stage and proclaimed that he didn’t want to see this type of behavior from his coaches, noting that both of them would be better suited to sit down and discuss this when Calipari returned from the Bahamas.
“I’m not real thrilled at where we are. Grown ups are going to have to figure this out and be a little better. Sometimes when you get a little bit of success, you get a little entitled. We will be a grateful (athletic) department.”
Barnhart went on to say that Kentucky is a family and that they will handle this in-house. Blah, blah, blah. It was your prominent head basketball coach that started this, so I wouldn’t expect Mark Stoops to just lay down and take it. He’s continuing to build his football program and if the basketball coach, who we all know is going to say anything he wants, wants to hash it out further, then I would imagine Stoops will discuss it.
But, Stoops made it a point to say that he hasn’t spoken with Calipari. The basketball coach said he tried to reach out.
Coach Calipari now wants to block out the ‘clutter’ he created. It sounds like he took a shot and now wants everyone to forget about it.
As for Barnhart, deciding to hold a press conference and talk about the fantastic things that other sports have accomplished recently, then putting blame on the media for drumming up stories during “talking season?” Well, it was your coaches that created the discussion, while clamoring about NIL and facilities.
“I think everyone is looking for something to talk about, talking season is effective in summer, you guys will look for stuff, you got nothing else to do,” Barnhart said. “So you look to create stories and it becomes the fact. The reality is we are really in a pretty good spot with this stuff.”
Barnhart can thank Stoops for putting a successful product on the field, while also telling Calipari that his facility request is not happening right now. Barnhart did the latter, now we wait to see what the football team looks like in three weeks.
Everyday that passes is another day I appreciate the candor from Mark Stoops.
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