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Calipari’s Biggest Rival: History

I heard the question asked the other day, “Who is John Calipari’s biggest coaching rival?” The first and most obvious answer that jumped out to me was to say Rick Pitino. After all, Pitino is the coach of Kentucky’s in-state, and biggest rival Louisville. The two have gone toe to toe dating back to Calipari’s early days at UMASS when Pitino was still at Kentucky. Calipari has even drawn some comparisons to a young Rick Pitino when he was in his prime. The intense match-ups continued when Calipari’s Memphis team squared off against Pitino’s Louisville team on a regular basis. Since arriving at Kentucky though, John Calipari has done nothing but produce wins over Pitino every single time they have faced off, including a Final 4 victory last season. Calipari’s most recent national championship was last year. Pitino’s was in 1996. Calipari outpaces Pitino in the world of landing high profile recruits. Even though the two go head-to-head every season in the heated rivalry game around the new year, I think Calipari understands that while the rivalry wins are nice, he has much bigger fish to fry. There’s a healthy rivalry and banter that is sometimes exchanged between the two, but Rick Pitino is not Calipari’s biggest rival.

Calipari’s biggest rival doesn’t reside in the SEC either. Who could it even be, really? Billy Donovan is the only other coach who currently comes close to Calipari’s level of production at Florida. Donovan’s Gators continually prove to be Kentucky’s biggest foe in conference play, fielding talented teams year in and year out– but I think it’s safe to say Calipari still distances himself from Donovan in current on-court success, as well as recruiting.

Some of the other biggest names in college basketball– Coach K, Roy Williams, Bill Self, Tom Izzo, etc…they simply don’t play one another on a regular basis or nearly enough to produce a grand rivalry. The biggest names in coaching aren’t sharing the lime light with Calipari and Kentucky in the SEC. 

John Calipari does have a big-time rivalry though, one that drives him deep down– one that pushes him to continue getting better and finding new ways every day to be successful. Calipari’s biggest rival–and it’s a huge one, is history. Calipari isn’t chasing Rick Pitino. He certainly isn’t chasing Tom Crean. He’s chasing history. Calipari already dominates the national recruiting scene. Sure, he loses a kid he really wants every now and then. He might even relinquish the #1 recruiting class title from time to time (though he probably won’t ever have a class that doesn’t fall in the top 5). It doesn’t matter though. He owns high level recruiting, and you really can’t argue against the fact.

For Calipari it’s not about a hatred or a back and forth with one particular guy across the court. It’s about something even bigger. It’s about having six first round NBA draft picks in one year. It’s about having a perfect 40-0 season. It’s about chasing UCLA’s total number of national championships. It’s about history. 

History is John Calipari’s biggest rival. And for now, he’s simply chasing it. But it might not be long before he’s getting the best of his rival.

Article written by Ally Tucker

I once successfully requested "The Wobble" to be played 6 times at one wedding.

28 Comments for Calipari’s Biggest Rival: History

  1. martin
    5:03 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    pitino won in 1996 tubby was 1998

  2. LansingCat
    5:10 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Really? Pitino’s last was ’98? Hope that was a tongue-in- cheek comment about Smith having Pitino’s players.

  3. tdogg40330
    5:21 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    I was told today that a UK coach can’t coach past 70 years old, its a UK policy.
    Anyone ever heard this garbage??

  4. HicksPickSix
    5:24 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Ricky P in ’98?! The young writers on here have neither perspective nor the concern with our program’s history to actually fact check before they spin crap out.

  5. Yngvie Malmsteen.
    5:24 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    If you really don’t know Pitino won his NC in 96 you need to hang it up.

  6. Chris
    5:29 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    the good news is that of the 3k channels on dish, one of which only plays The Worlds Greatest Pillow, I dont have FSS. FML.

  7. And Another Thing
    5:31 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    When I first heard of KSR, I loved it because Matt’s perspective was always from
    that of a country bumpkin kind of guy. THe kind of UK fans I knew all my life
    and grew up around.

    Country fans never have thought of Louisville as UK’s “biggest rival”. Only people
    from Louisville think that, and people who have hung out with people from Louisville
    too long, who are casual fans and know nothing about UK history.

    In my part of Kentucky, Tennessee is UK’s biggest rival, and always has been.

    This whole “Louisville is Kentucky’s biggest rival” is the product of typical
    Louisville arrogance and self-congratulating navel-gazing.

    I’m sad to see KSR slipping into this kind of lack of historical knowledge
    and perspective. “Ridiculous” is one thing. “Misinformed and undereducated”
    is another. Like many people, I’m getting really sad inside about what’s
    going on at KSR lately. I have nothing against women writers. I *am* a woman.
    But this tripe that’s being posted lately is a crying shame. I only wish there was
    a news site that posted actual news as often as KSR posts drivel these days.
    I’d be at that site in a hot second. If any of you knowledgeable fans out
    there want to start your own site and start posting serious news, get
    the word out. We’re waiting.

  8. Stan
    5:32 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    It is a slap in the face not to give Tubby the respect of the title HIS TEAM WON! I don’t care who believes otherwise,Tubby was the coach,qickie rickie had taken his 15 seconds north.

  9. PsychOfMSE
    5:32 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink!__channel-3
    Link to BWO’s stream of the game.
    Email me @ [email protected] for the password. I’ll send the password out about 15 minutes before wildcat warmup starts!

  10. Bledsoe's Biceps
    5:32 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Tubby Smith just called and said he’s not giving the 98 championship to Rick. And I beg to differ that Cal is indifferent to other coaches. He spent last year trading pot shots with Pitino. He and Calhoun had a heated history. etc. I love what the guy does and am thrilled he’s the UK coach, but don’t buy all the Cal spin that it’s not about him.

  11. cool guy
    5:34 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Don’t worry about the 96/98 error. They’ll clear it up before they repost it as new in a few hours.

  12. James
    5:34 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    7. You’re a fool. If you want to argue that Tennessee is kentucky’s biggest rival, then you are too ignorant about our program to even discuss it with, even if you’re as old as the hills you came out of.

  13. Stan
    5:35 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    #7,I couldn’t have said it better. I have,like a lot of you,been on this site from the start. To say it has changed is being kind. I still read the site everyday,but not as excited as I was at first.

  14. STEVE!
    5:42 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    3 – Rupp had to retire because he was 70. It was either a UK or State employee policy. I don’t know if it is still in effect.

  15. STEVE!
    5:47 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Oh, and as for the Florida\Billy Donovan being our biggest SEC foe, please check the record. I believe UK is 7-1 against the Gators since Cal’s arrival. Not much of a rivalry when you win 7 of 8.

  16. LansingCat
    5:47 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    This, coupled with Matthews re-post from last night, is embarrassing. Please, for the love of all that is sacred, READ YOUR OWN WEBSITE BEFORE YOU POST AND MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT COACH WON A TITLE IN WHAT YEAR!!!

  17. Luke
    5:55 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    People make mistakes. It’s fixed now. Cool it, folks.

  18. Dumb
    5:56 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    7 and 13… You guys are fuggin redneck morons. You know nothing

  19. Dumb
    5:57 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Nevermind… Just 7

  20. HackRichards
    6:00 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Absolutely one of the best reads ever. Case Closed.

  21. Agreed!
    6:05 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    Ya know, I have to say that I am becomind very fond of Ally’s contributions to this site.. Excellent post. Keep it up. And let’s hope Call whoops History’s a**! Go Cats.

  22. I'm Batman
    6:11 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    11 – this has already been said by matt on the radio show too. Ally essentially took his argument and added a little. It’s ridiculous how much this site is lacking in originality. KSR has really gone downhill. It is sad to see because this site used to be great.

  23. LansingCat
    6:12 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    I really like Ally, and her writing, but get shit right. Eric Blledsoe said so.

  24. LansingCat
    6:14 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    *yeah, that was a typo. On purpose.

  25. As far as UT goes...
    8:35 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    I don’t quite get the UT-UK rivalry deal with some in the fan base. It is just because we share a border in the same conference? I don’t see how that makes a rivalry…I guess if you live on the border I can understand a little more. Don’t get me wrong, I think it could become one. But the problem is both schools have historically excelled in opposing sports–UK in basketball and UT in football. How many fans at UK look at our basketball schedule and say ooohh yeah can’t wait for that UT game? In comparison, if you really think UT looks at the football schedule and circles UK as “the game” your kidding yourself…Tennessee has always been and will always be all about the Third Saturday in October regardless of how lopsided it has become. Ha, at our rate, no one circles the UK game in football except for Louisville. But thats little brother…

  26. CryMore
    10:09 pm November 1, 2012 Permalink

    You people need to chill out a little. I usually read this site daily and well some stories are good and a nice read and some brings back good memories. Then other stories are kinda lame and stupid and pointless but every time I read comments half of them are complaints about this site. Keep wasting ur time complaining and reading crap u don’t want to read. No one cares. Go get the sand outta ur vag and just shut up. U dont like the site go make one better

  27. Unknown Fan
    7:34 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    Stop allowing the pet monkeys to pen articles for this site. Do SOME research prior to sticking your foot in your mouth.Thank Gawd it is FREE ’cause that is all it is worth…

  28. dewskilowe
    8:00 am November 2, 2012 Permalink

    Yes Coach Cal is chasing History while running away from his past. Only Coach to have 2 final 4s vacated.