Skip to content

Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.

Calipari voted the 16th best “X’s and O’s” coach by his peers


Over at ESPN Insider, Goodman polled two-thirds of Division 1 college basketball coaches on who they thought was the Best X’s and O’s coaches in the game. He ranked the top 25 based on their results, and included a quote about each coach from one of their colleagues. Where did Cal end up? In a tie for 16th with Boston College’s Steve Donahue and Gonzaga’s Mark Few. Josh Pastner, Cal’s successor at Memphis, had this to say about him: “His teams are great defensively, great rebounding and his teams win close games.”

I don’t think anyone would argue with that. Here’s how some of Cal’s colleagues fared:

1. Tom Izzo
3. Rick Pitino
4. Bill Self
7. Coach K
8. Billy Donovan
10. Kevin Stallings
T14. Tom Crean

Goodman included Stallings’ quote about Billy Donovan, which is classic Kevin Stallings:

“He’s the most well-prepared coach in our league on a game-by-game basis, year-after-year in my opinion.”

There’s no denying Donovan is a good coach, but ole Bill Dauterive just couldn’t help but phrase it in that manner, could he? There’s nothing Stallings loves more than getting in a passive aggressive dig at John Calipari. Except maybe tacos.

Check out the full list here, and as always, leave your feedback in the comments section.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

52 Comments for Calipari voted the 16th best “X’s and O’s” coach by his peers

  1. The Gambler
    1:04 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    You have to be an insider to read all the teams … where did Jim Beilein land? I thought he would be in the top 3. Just curious.

  2. Hobokat
    1:05 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    I have no problem with Stallings quote. Why is that a dig on Cal?

  3. No prob!!
    1:07 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    I’ll take talent and Championships over X’s and O’s anyday!!

  4. J in Orlando
    1:09 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    Cal is around 15-25 as far as preparation for a specific opponent, but as far as in-game decision making/adjustments, he is top 3-5

  5. NotSatire
    1:11 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    I suppose Brad Stephens missed that list because he is an NBA coach now…

  6. Boohoo
    1:12 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    Maybe, just maybe biilyD has been around a decade or more to know the league!

  7. Chaz
    1:13 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    I like Stallings’ choice in shirt colors. That’s the kindest I can say about him.

  8. Shane Frederick
    1:14 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    I actually agree with most of this list.

  9. SamKat
    1:17 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    There is an old Italian phrase: “Bull-a-Sheeta!” How about Cal’s win-loss record?

  10. btowncatfan
    1:19 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    Have no idea, but wondering what Cal’s record is against those who finished ahead of him.

  11. Go Cats
    1:19 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    Roy Williams gotta be last on the list. In the last five years or so, he has had tons of talent with little results. When self went to box and 1 during the second half of the Elite Eight game two years ago, Roy competely missed it and made no adjustments and lost despite a huge halftime lead. Roy is old, worn-old and needs to retire.

  12. Poll
    1:20 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    If Dick Porcini is third best he sure missed on Xing out Christian Laettner and someone guarding the in-bounds pass during THAT game! He didn’t X or O to play D. Anderson during 97 final game. But he’s third.

  13. UKBlue
    1:20 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    Man they really hate Cal.

  14. RahRah
    1:21 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    Yeah, Coach Cal & the coach of Boston College… similar. lol…when was their last final 4 game?

    And Pitino is actually #1 at gimmicks and manipulation. You know like hacking and smacking, hard fouls on a guy known to have a temper, taking full advantage of an injured player who wasn’t all that great……and on and on. Does that count as
    x’s & o’s?

  15. Porcino
    1:29 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    When it comes to (crazy) ex’s and “oh’s no, he wore the white suit and we can see his nuts”, quick Rick is numero uno!

  16. Seriously
    1:29 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    Why should we be butthurt over the stallings quote? I don’t see that as a dig at Cal at all. Honestly, Billy D probably IS a better x o coach then cal….doesn’t mean he has better teams or is a better all around coach. Cal sets himself apart with his team/ego management not with drawing up inbounds plays. Hell, a lot of times he won’t even call a timeout to set up a play he just lets his guys go after it.

  17. Michael F. Jox
    1:37 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    Where’s the dig? You gotta really wanna see it I guess.

  18. Kentucky Effect
    1:37 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    10) Cal is 0-3 vs Coach K. Not sure about the others

  19. 90% of UL fans in Louisville live in the projects and leech off the government
    1:39 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    So Cal owns most of the coaches in the top 5, and is 10 spots behind them? OK. Smells like

    butthurt from completly owning their azz in recruiting.

  20. Johnny
    1:43 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    Donovan’s two NC teams were amazing passing teams. Yes they had crazy talent, but Donavon got that talent working together like a machine in a very short period of time. That’s good x’s and o’s and great coaching. He deserves credit. Cal’s x’s and o’s are more tailered to the players rather than fitting players to a particular system ala Tubby or Izzo. Each has its merits, but this is not a poll that Cal is going to excel at. Recruiting and actually winning games is more Cal’s priority over above x’s o’s. I wonder which coach is best at teaching free throw shooting?

  21. come on
    1:47 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    how short are peoples memories? Just two years ago Pitino had a streak of being outcoached by Izzo in the NCAA, Tom Crean at Marquette, Morehead and had no answers for Jorts., liggins or anything Cal threw at him.(note Jorts and liggins weren’t considered super talents)

  22. Tard
    1:48 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    but but but cal just rolls the ball out wah wah wah

  23. Ugly muffin
    2:13 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    Your ridiculous if you actually think Stallings was saying anything negative about Cal in what he said. He was bragging on the coach he feels is the best, that’s all. I don’t like the guy either but that doesn’t mean we have to make crap up.

  24. Raazoul
    2:16 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    This is ridiculous… First off, Coach K is a better X and O coach than the top three combined. Second, How long is Billy D gonna ride out that 2 good seasons he had? Gimme a break. He’s like Bobby Knight now, what has he done outside those 2 years?

  25. Jim 1
    2:16 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    Cal will never do well in any poll when using his fellow coaches. Extreme jealousy on his success and biasness toward his recruiting to help those who compete against him in games and recruitment Of the best players. Excuse, one & done. SAD.

  26. STEVE!
    2:19 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    I can’t stand Stallings, but I don’t see the dig at Cal. If Donovan is #8, a lot of coaches must have had good things to say about him.

  27. ahardison93
    2:20 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    16th best “X’s & O’s” guy has gone to an Elite 8, Final Four, and won the National Championship in the past four years. I will definitely take that!

  28. STEVE!
    2:25 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    24 – You’re joking, right? A National Runner-Up in 2000 and three Elite 8’s the past three years. That’s pretty sustained success.

  29. HillbillyInBC
    2:30 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    1 – A few spots behind his brother John.

  30. B
    2:35 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    Please tell me how that quote was a dig at Cal? I love UK but geez, not everything is about us.

  31. ghostofgeorge
    2:38 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    These same Insaners also said BCG would be a great coach at UK, because he out X’d and O’d ricky threestacks.

  32. Linda Taylor
    2:42 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    Any poll that has Crean ranked higher than Cal is bogus.

  33. Musehobo
    2:55 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    I won’t complain about Cal’s position on the list. I would say while not weak by any means, in game strategy changes are not his strong suit. Best recruiter ✓. Best at developing freshman ✓. He’s also one of the best defensive coaches ever. And he’s top of the line at getting players to gel and tourney success. But I’ve seen Cal on several occasions look flustered when his team isn’t clicking on the court. He doesn’t always have the right answer, but he’s also not awful like some folks say.

  34. niaps
    2:55 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    What a stupid poll. It’s about wins and losses and Cal is head and shoulders above these clowns. That fool at IU ahead of Cal says it all. Total disregard of this poll is recommended.

  35. Bunny
    2:58 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    Thanks Mrs TT on behalf of those of us who can’t afford to be ESPN “insiders”….

  36. blueblooded
    3:05 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    I actually think Pitino is a horrible X&O’s coach. I thought that when he was at UK too. He is the games best ever pre-game preparer. His teams always know what the other team will do and take that away from them. His team almost always have a good offensive game plan against the other team too. However, about 5 minutes into the second half, you usually know if his teams will win or lose. He’s so stubborn about sticking to his game plan that he rarely changes his strategy (i.e., X&O’s). Most of time, that works well for him and he ends up wearing out the other team or getting them in foul trouble. Occassionaly, the other team is red hot or the officials actually call it tight and they end up with an odd loss. Think about how many bad losses that Pitino has had through the years and most are because he never adjusted mid-game.

    On the flip side, Denny Crum was the best ever X&O’s coach and I would acually say Tubby is not far behind him as well. If you ever needed a late game play, both of those guys could always find a way to get a late bucket. The problem was they both knew that, so they relied on it and they didn’t put in the time for recruiting or in pre-game prep because they thought they could just out smart the other coach at game time. I always thought that if you could combine Rick’s prep with Tubby’s game coaching, you’d have the perfect coach. Cal is little bit in between. He does a lot more game prep with his team then most (unlike Rick, his focus is on his own team and not the opponent). However, I think Cal is a very underated in game coach. Maybe not top ten, but his teams always adjust during the game and from oponent to openent based upon what the other team is doing.

  37. statman
    3:23 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    Oh I can’t quit laughing!

  38. J in Orlando
    3:23 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    36 Pitino is a top 5 coach as far as prepping for a specific opponent…but as an in-game decision maker, he leaves a lot to be desired…these are 2 different skills.

  39. bigcatstanding
    3:37 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    we can expect this from coaches John Calipari is hated in all corners. But to have Ricky at number 3 is a joke, I can remember several times were he has had more brain cramps than any coach I can remember. I remember in the NCAA tournament playing Marquette, Rick always played full court press defense and even though they kept breaking the press and getting easy baskets, he never stop pressing and it cost us the game. We was by far the superior team but he was so arrogant and hard headed he wouldn’t change it for the world. John Calipari has never got credit for being a great coach, heck what about his first year at Kentucky taking over a terrible team going to the Elite Eight, next year Final Four not even acknowledge, even the championship year wasn’t up for any awards. Like someone in history has ever took a team of freshmen and won the tournament am I missing something. far as I know and can remember no one has ever accomplished what he did. all I can say is after this season going undefeated we will have a longer list of haters and be accused of cheating worse than ever. Being hated only means you are on top so bring on the haters.

  40. bigcatstanding
    3:47 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    as far as I can tell that quote everyone is mad about isn’t a bad quote, I mean doesn’t winning the close games mean you are a great X’s and O’s coach. and last I checked setting your defenses throughout the game is part of X’s and O’s also

  41. AirRaid
    3:50 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    40 if you read the comments you will see pretty much everyone agrees that Stallings’ quote was no big deal. The only person mad about it seems to be TT.

  42. Random
    3:51 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    That’s way too low. No matter what people think about Cal he’s AT LEAST one of the top 10 game coaches along with being the best recruiter in college basketball. Teams like Texas, Memphis and UCLA in the past several years have proven that the “you just roll the balls out and anyone can win with that kinda talent” stuff is crap.

  43. Cotton Mash
    4:13 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    #32 with the proverbial head on the nail.

  44. Cotton Mash
    4:14 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    ^^^ or something like that! 😉

  45. VandyCat
    5:19 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    Crean? Really? Even diehard IU fans and boosters in Bloomington say he can’t coach (I live there). I’m with #32 – makes the whole poll bogus. Likewise, I’m a Vandy grad and barely tolerate Stallings. Not a bad coach, but higher than Cal? Ludicrous….

  46. PhilUK18
    5:53 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink


    I’m so sorry that you’re subjected to living in Bloomington. That’s a fate that I wouldn’t even wish on my worst enemy. And I agree on Stallings, baffling that he’s above Cal. Even when they have legitimately good teams they usually lose before they should in the tournament, so obviously he’s doing something wrong.

  47. Scuba Steve
    10:15 pm August 21, 2013 Permalink

    el oh el. Coach K owns Izzo

  48. YouChittin'Me?33
    1:30 am August 22, 2013 Permalink

    Ricky P at number 3? Poor ole Grant Hill–probably still waitin’ around somewhere–busted knees and all–still waiting on some to guard him.

  49. blueblooded
    1:41 am August 22, 2013 Permalink

    @39, I almost referenced that same Marquette game in my post @35. That game & Pitino’s UK loss to UNC in the tournament were perfect examples of knowing we were going to lose right after the second half started because he made no adjustments. I’ve seen the same at UL when they had ugly losses to Seton Hall, Butler & South Carolina.

    He is very good at changing defenses during a game, but most of that is done at practice & in his game prep by watching film and deciding what defense will work best against each offensive set. That’s definitely an art and is one of the reasons he’s one of the top coaches in the game, but I don’t consider that x&o’s. Defensive x&o’s would be totally scrapping your pre-game scheme & going with a box & one or something completely different because you see something mid-game. Rick Majerus was great at mid-game defensive adjustments.

  50. Cuhreanin'TowardMediocrity
    1:43 am August 22, 2013 Permalink

    Was Tyler Griffey an X or an O?

  51. Lex Luthor
    1:47 am August 22, 2013 Permalink

    Stallings is a master of X’s and O’s. Kryptonite: NCAA Tourney

  52. unreconstructed
    7:59 am August 22, 2013 Permalink

    Some folks around here sed “Ol’ Tubster” was an excellent X & O coach. Don’t see him on that list. Mebbe he ain’t so hot after all…
    Never was, IMO.