LostLettermen.com put together a list of college basketball’s most hated coaches, and not surprisingly, a trio of Kentucky coaches are among them. Rick Pitino, John Calipari and Adolph Rupp make the list at #6, #5, and #3, respectively. Here’s the whole list, and what they had to say about each of UK’s current and former head guys:
1. Bobby Knight (Duh)
2. Mike Krzyzewski
3. Adolph Rupp
In his 42 years at Kentucky, Rupp became one of the greatest college basketball coaches of all time, and also one of the most disliked due to his nastiness. Rupp ran his teams as if he were a drill instructor, and years after playing for him, former players spoke of Rupp like an abusive father.
“He wanted everybody to hate him, and he succeeded,” UK legend Bill Spivey once said. “He called us names some of us had never heard before.” Added former Wildcat Tommy Kron, “He was a tough, gruff kind of guy who would verbally abuse his players to get them to play harder.”
The Wildcats’ dominance in the Southeastern Conference under Rupp proved, to a certain extent, that his tactics worked.
Rupp has been further demonized over the years by portrayals of racism, such as a very unflattering Sports Illustrated article by Frank Deford. While accusations of racism have been strongly challenged in the Bluegrass State, the perception remains and tarnishes his legacy in the eye of the public.
4. John Thompson
5. John Calipari
With his slicked-back hair and expensive Armani suits, John Calipari is like the Gordon Gekko of college basketball coaches. Those snake-oil-salesman mannerisms rankle a lot of people – among them Jim Calhoun, who called Calipari “Johnny Clam Chowder” for faking a Boston accent while coaching at Massachusetts.
Some fans think Calipari could be as crooked as Gekko, too. Final Four appearances at UMass and Memphis were vacated due to NCAA violations. These days, some are unwilling to believe his success at Kentucky, with rosters full of one-and-done future NBA lottery picks, is legit, and they point out he never has been personally implicated by the NCAA.
6. Rick Pitino
It’s a good thing New Yorkers have thick skin, because this sweet-talking Long Islander native has been called every name in the book over the last two decades in the NBA and college basketball.
Shameless self-promoter. Egomaniac. Whiner. Opportunist. Weasel. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. No one hates Pitino more than the fans in Lexington, who watched him leave a dream job at Kentucky for the NBA, only to return to college ball four years later to coach bitter rival Louisville.
Fans like to point out that Pitino looks a lot like Al Pacino in the 1997 film The Devil’s Advocate – especially in his patented white suit. In case you haven’t seen the movie, Pacino plays Satan.
7. Bob Huggins
8. John Chaney
9. Jim Calhoun
10. Jerry Tarkanian
Check out the list with all of the descriptions over on USA Today. Haters gonna hate.