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Jeff Sheppard says he’s “all for Cal,” just wishes the system was different


Jeff Sheppard called in to Kentucky Sports Radio this morning to clarify his controversial comments about the one-and-done culture and John Calipari. When asked what he meant when he said there is too much focus at UK on first round draft picks than national championships, Sheppard backtracked a little bit and agreed with Matt that both can happen–and are happening–at UK:

“It is both. We are having first round draft picks and winning titles. After last season, if we can have two first round draft picks, Coach Cal is doing an amazing job. …I just wish that the one-and-done rule was different so they could play longer. I’m not against anything, I’m just saying my opinion on the current state of Kentucky basketball.”

One thing that Sheppard really wanted to clarify was his joke that he considers Cal the enemy because he used to coach at UMass during Jeff’s playing days:

I misspoke when I said Cal is the enemy, he’s obviously not the enemy, but he was the enemy. In 1996 he was at UMass. It’s just different when you play for a coach, you go through battles with that coach, there’s a loyalty there.”

Because Rick Pitino is now at Louisville, Sheppard recognized that was a “lightning rod comment” for Kentucky fans, and joked that “only in Kentucky do we care what a washed-up bald former basketball player says.” For those fans calling him a traitor for his comments, he had this to say: “If I haven’t proven that I’m a Kentucky guy after all these years, then we’re missing something here.”

Just so we’re all clear, Sheppard is “all for Cal”: “I love [Cal]. He’s the coach at Kentucky, and I’m supporting him. But I still wish it was different.” Until the powers that be come together and find a better solution than the one-and-done rule, Sheppard says that he can’t question Cal’s methods:

“I can’t question anything that Coach Cal has done. He obviously does a great job recruiting. What I personally feel the right balance is for a national championship team in today’s environment is what we did in 2012.”

I think that’s something we can all agree on.

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.

44 Comments for Jeff Sheppard says he’s “all for Cal,” just wishes the system was different

  1. dude
    11:40 am July 23, 2013 Permalink

    it’s easy to say these things after the fact…minus 1 for Shep

  2. Tim Kathlina
    11:41 am July 23, 2013 Permalink

    Saw Jeff the first time when his high school team came and played a game at Memorial in Lex. He was awesome then, and is still a great ambassador for Kentucky basketball!

  3. ccaatttss
    11:41 am July 23, 2013 Permalink

    just trying to cover his business as- now let him sell ul crap with his slimy ex coach we as bbn want no more to do with him

  4. Trubluepopeye
    11:41 am July 23, 2013 Permalink

    Jeff Sheppard wanting Cal to talk less about draft picks. That’s Pitino talk for sure. Cal is talking to recruits when he speaks about draft picks. Hey Jeff you played for the University of Ky not the University of Pitino?

  5. KellyBruce
    11:46 am July 23, 2013 Permalink

    Why are we still talking about this?!

  6. DH
    11:49 am July 23, 2013 Permalink

    3) speak for yourself. There are intelligent members of BBN that that still love Shep and realize he didn’t say anything negative about the school he won a championship with

  7. markky
    11:54 am July 23, 2013 Permalink

    Matt- why does Jeff need to acknowledge a different reason than he gave for being more comfortable @ UL with Pitino. You said he needs to reveal it’s because he ran some signing events…. Why does he need to add anything? He said his reason and if it has, in part, other parts FINE. His main reason is his choice- geeeze. YOU SOUND MORE LIKE JUST A LOUISVILLE HATER THAN A UK FAN.

  8. BBNinClearwaterFL
    11:55 am July 23, 2013 Permalink

    6) Agree! Shep has always been an good ambassador for the program. On the UL relationship, he’s a grown man now trying to grow his business and support his family. He truly is a “Stand-up” guy!

  9. CatsFanFrankfort
    11:59 am July 23, 2013 Permalink

    What a waste of time for Shep to have to explain himself for some comments he made. I really dont believe he needed to defend himself in the slightest over this. People jumped all over him for a perceived slight against UK basketball, and that is all it was: perceived. He handled Matt’s negative line of questioning with class and in the way I pretty much I expected of him, since it was a non-issue in the first place.

    Why cant people just be rational and not make wild judgements or assumptions over every little thing someone says that even in the most remote sense COULD BE seen as a slight againt UK? Especially when its one of OUR OWN PLAYERS??

    I mainly cant believe that Matt has taken up the negative view towards Shep over the last couple of days. I love KSR, but I have honestly lost a little respect for you, bud. I thought you would be more mature and not jump to such quick conclusions about one of our own, and even say things like Shep needs to get over his ‘Calipari/Robic hate’. You took an innocent comment and made him out to be a villian. I know that you understand that your site is very influential to many UK fans around the state and even the country. Many people read the site and accept as truth what you post. Now many people think Shep is unloyal to UK, or as you yourself completely fabricated, ‘hates’ our coach. I know you are much smarter than this. And I also realize that your main argument was that he should have articulated himself better, and I agree with that notion. I also agree that we shouldnt take everything former players say as gospel because, lets face it, not all of our former players are exactly the best role models. But you also put words into his mouth and took some of his comments and bent them in a way that made it seem like he had no love for the Kentucky program anymore now that Pitino is not here and Calipari is. That is simply not the case, and it was rather easy to tell just by watching him speak, AT A UK FUNCTION, nonetheless that he was loyal to UK through and through.

    It is almost as though any slight, even the smallest, against Cal or UK these days, especially when it comes to the one-and-done rule, is blown up far larger than necessary by the writers on this site. Just show a little patience and get all of the facts first. And definitely dont begin to hurt the status of one of our players in the eyes of our fans by saying he hates the coach, when that was simply not the case.

    I am just asking that you, as the operator of this site, which fans from all over read daily, show a little more maturity in these kinds of situations. I know he explained himself, unnecessarily in my opinion, but in the eyes of some, Shep will be tarnished by making some innocent comments on his relationship with Cal and Rick, and the one-and-done system. And the fact that you fabricated some level of ‘hate’ between Shep and Cal or how he runs the program has almost certainly swayed people’s opinions about him in a negative way.

  10. Big Dog
    11:59 am July 23, 2013 Permalink

    See ya Shep! Used to be one of my favorites. It’s clear where your loyalty lies. you can backpeddal all you want, but you are a Pitino guy now…good luck with that.

  11. Rupp
    12:05 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    Too little too late. The only thing I agree with was him saying,..“only in Kentucky do we care what a washed-up bald former basketball player says.” He’s right about that!!!! As far as I’m concerned, he can go hang out in Little Brother’s locker room with Quick Rick from now on. I suspect a lot of Cat fans will agree with me on that, some might disagree. Unlike Sheppard, I won’t claim to speak for most Cat fans.

  12. buzzard
    12:05 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    I heard his radio interview, seems like he’s more of a Pitino fan than a member of the BBN…..players first all the way! Pitino is the enemy! And a friend of my enemy is an enemy of mine! I guess Sheppard looks better in Red than Blue.

  13. Sky Robbie
    12:11 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    It makes me sick to see UK fans throwing a UK legend under the bus!! I don’t see anything wrong with what Jeff said. He was just voicing an opinion. I for one would love to see these players stay for 4 years of college, but its just not the way it is! Cal has said that he doesn’t completely like the one and done rule. However, its the nature of the sport and Cal is using it in his favor.

    Of course Jeff has some sort of allegiance to Pitino. If any of you played a sport, you all have a coach that you are especially close with. I’m fine with Sheppard still having that allegiance with Pitino, I can understand that dynamic. I truly believe that Jeff is 100% with the Cats. Hes just voicing his opinion and what he would like to see change for the better of college basketball.

    Jeff Sheppard 96 and 98 champion, 98 MOP, UK legend. A great representative of the BBN!! If you think Jeff is against UK, you obviously have no clue and need to turn in your BBN card!

  14. DH
    12:27 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    Good lord. I love UK. Even got a degree from UK. But some of the fans are completely unreasonable. I would imagine EVERY former Cat that played for Pitino is closer to Pitino than they are to Calipari. Some of our most beloved Cats probably feel exactly like Shep does. Walter McCarty was an assistant coach for UL. I bet HE feels more comfortable in Pitino’s office than in Cal’s. Shep jokingly said Cal was the enemy because he coached one of the best teams in college hoops while Shep was at UK. Of course Cal’s not the enemy now. I think MOST people understood what he meant when he said that. I think some of you would rather people talk shit about your family than to say something that MIGHT be perceived as negative about UK. What did he really say that was so bad? I don’t hear UL fans hating on Kenny Payne. He didn’t even play for Calipari

  15. Chicago Chris
    12:29 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    Jeez. People can have opinions. Just because someone doesn’t like something doesn’t mean their akin to being a “commie.” This “fer us” or “agin’ us” mentality is ridiculous.

  16. Chicago Chris
    12:31 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    Also, JS recognizes there would be no JS on the current team, probably. Of course he might have issue with a system that he might never be a part of were he playing now.

  17. Blackhawk
    12:38 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    I’m willing to bet that many of those who have a problem with what Jeff said are young fans who don’t quite know what it was like in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s watching UK players. Times have changed and yes we are still winning because of our tradition and ability to adapt to change. I don’t like the OAD rule any more than Shep or Cal does but it’s the way things are. There is nothing wrong with wanting a different system. There is nothing wrong with wanting things to be like something else. We enjoyed success then just like we are now so what’s really wrong with wanting college basketball to be like it used to be. The young fans have no idea what it was like to watch guys like Jordan, Worthy, Ewing, Barkley, Magic, Bird and other legends grow as players….now image your own heroes like Macy, Roby, Givens, Farmer, Shep, McCarty, Mercer, Walker, Delk, Sky, Bowie, Dirk, Mel and many others grow as players and you all summer long you hear about them and what they are going to be like the next year and you even see them out around town. Yeah I admit it I long for those days. I like Jeff accept that it’s not like that any more and I enjoy the wins and titles just as much now as I did then…but I prefer those days. I’ve known Jeff since college and there is no one more a UK fan than he is. I know that hearing fans dismiss him as a traitor just because he used the wrong tense (is vs. was) when making his enemy comment hurts him more than he will ever admit. He grew up in GA loving all things UK. Ask him sometime….he wrote a paper in grade school saying when he grows up he wanted to play ball for the Wildcats and win a title…he got 2 of them. He bleeds blue. So what if he says he is more comfortable with Rick than Cal. He has known Rick for nearly 20 years and has built a close relationship with him….he just doesn’t know Cal that closely and probably never will. It’s no different than Kenny Walker saying he is more comfortable with Joe B than Cal. The man has been and forever will be a true blue wildcat….some of you need to grow up and realize what he was actually saying rather than hear something and turn him off because either you think your offended or Matt Jones had told you are.

  18. jhnny
    12:42 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    I know I’m in the minority- but this didn’t bother me. When Pitino said he was first going to UL- it drove me nuts. I couldn’t understand it. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to accept it. Honestly, I love the rivalry with UL, but I try not to begrudge them. I still think it was great for our state that if someone had to win the national championship other than UK, that it be UL. And my feelings for Rick Pitino, who was the coach when I attended UK, are complex too. My first year as a student at UK was Eddie Sutton’s last year. I was in Rupp Arena, when Sutton won only 13 games. I recall Rupp being at least half empty at a couple of games late in the season. It was horrible. And then Pitino came in and turned us around almost overnight. I will forever be grateful.

  19. here is why
    12:48 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    #9 The truth is this site operates more like a tabloid publication. Like a National Enquirer. So you suggest they should get all the facts and not jump the gun when posting about situations like this silly Shep dust up. Think about this… this site is NOT operated by journalists. It is operated by 20-30 year olds with one major goal in mind. Get hits on our site to collect revenue from ads. What accomplishes that? Immediately jumping on any story (or non-story), posting about it MULTIPLE times to keep it at the top, and encouraging back and forth postings by commenters to keep getting the hits. In short, take a non story and inflame it, make it bigger than it is in reality to make $$$. In short, operate like a tabloid gossip column publication that never cares about the facts. You are asking to much and aiming to high in your request of the operators of this site to employ a little journalistic integrity. Not gonna happen.

  20. Random
    12:49 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    Some of our fans are so friggin ignorant sometimes.

  21. jo Dee
    12:51 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    No need to explain yourself shep. Anybody with half a brain knows what you meant by those comments. Don’t worry what these irrational ksr clowns think….. Beisner please come back!!!!This site has been overrun with a bunch of jerry tiptons.

  22. J in Orlando
    1:05 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    9 He was not giving his opinion, he was giving an opinion that would stroke his employer’s ego and keep his checks coming. If he didnt want to be called out he shouldnt have come on the radio to try and straddle the fence. Reasonable and intelligent people can appreciate that there are people not afraid to question those who make public statements and then backtrack. Shep sold out, which is fine…so just be honest…say you are now employed by UL and do not act as if those comments are his neutral opinion…he had several speaking engagements, some to the same group, before he started drawing a check from UL…not once did he ever say what he said this time.

  23. J in Orlando
    1:09 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    19 Coming to a fan blog site and expecting “journalism” is what I dont understand. That not what KSR does…there are thousands of sites/publications that do…this is what has made KSR unique, and thus successful

  24. Justin
    1:17 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    All these people saying “Jeff has a right to his opinion” need to realize he also had a right to not say anything. Jeff is not an idiot, he knew what he said was against the grain, so why say it unless you want to hear it.

    Jeff made a choice and now he has to hear it, but me personally, I think he knew his comments would fire up the fan base.

  25. Grits N' Gravy
    1:20 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    As a proud alum of UK and a proud member of Big Blue Nation living elsewhere I have no problem with Shepp giving his opinion. He still bleeds blue. Everyone wants to try and read between the lines of what he really meant by it has too much time on their hands. And buy the way, every fan base has their large share of idiot fans (ours included)

  26. steve
    1:27 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    All you knucklehead UK fans who were negative towards Jeff Sheppard need to take off your high school jerseys for awhile and listen. Sheppard is great spokesman for UK and actually played basketball at UK which gives him a great perspective on the status of UK basketball then and now. One and done is bad for college basketball and even the most ignorant fan has to agree with that.

  27. CatsFanFrankfort
    1:28 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    #17 through #20, I am glad you all are not like the completely irrational fans that have been posting garbage about Shep over the last couple of days, like #10, #11 and #12.

    And #19, I get what you are saying. I agree that they need hits, etc, and you seem to agree with my overall position of being disgusted by the way this story in particular has been handled. Like in tabloids, I am sure, it is just so frustrating to see something so innocuous spun into a highly publicized controversy. It would have been one thing to just post the video and the subsequen C-J interview, but I am more upset with the way Matt characterized Shep, and specifically, the use of the phrase, ‘Calipari/Robic hate’. It seems pretty hypocritical of Matt to write that Sheppard needs to articulate himself better or give better context to what he is saying, and then proceed to write things about Sheppard that he didn’t even say. Perhaps, Matt, you need to re-phrase some of the things you said concerning the comments, because many were not true to what was said.

    Yes, Sheppard may have made a mistake in some of his phrasing – I mean, he was publicly speaking, which is much more difficult and requires more on-the-spot thinking than writing (and editing!) an article – but Matt made even larger mistakes by characterizing the comments as some sort of disrespect (or hate, the word that was used, which I believe many fans latched onto) for Cal and the way he runs his program, and for deriving the notion that Sheppard is ‘bitter’ that he would not have been a good enough player to leave after a year.

    I still thoroughly enjoy the site, and I will continue to read it, and I still think Matt has done wonders for the way UK news is delivered to the BBN. I even enjoy the debates that can be had in the comments section, if they are well-reasoned and supported by good points. It is one of favorite aspects of the site, since it connects fans of the program in ways that were previously impossible.

    I dont want to sound holier-than-thou about this; I am just disappointed that such a negative stance was taken by the website from the very beginning, when it was completely harmless situation. No one has thrown Walter McCarty under the bus for being employed by UofL, to my knowledge, as someone reminded us above. That all seems to be water under the bridge. But this has certainly done irreparable damage to Sheppard’s legacy because of this site’s take on the issue, and the large influence that KSR (knowingly) has on the fans of the BBN. And that is a shame.

  28. Big Dog
    1:31 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    Sheppard is the BBN Ryan Braun

  29. UKgets#9nextyear
    1:32 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    #18 I hate so called fans like you. If UK can’t win it then lets all pull for and be happy that ul won??? NOOOOO!! Real UK fans dont pull for ul to win anything. Sheppard made his bed and now he must lay in it with pitino lmao.

  30. Big Dog
    1:34 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    back-peddalin’ SOB

  31. Linda Taylor
    1:38 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    22 – Exactly. It was like he was a marionette with Ricky P pulling all his strings. Those of you who are saying this is being blown out of proportion need to understand how it went national very quickly and negatively for UK and how it has become fodder for all the UL media. Shep has damaged his beloved UK point blank period. From now on every time he opens his mouth I will filter his words through a this is what Rick wants me to say filter. At least now we know from whence his words come.

  32. Matt
    1:57 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    I can’t believe there are posts containing several paragraphs about this one. Good grief

  33. Mike
    2:19 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    My hats off to Shep. He cleared up things very well. Shep still one of th UK Greats! Thanks Shep

  34. Mike Phillips
    2:31 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    Everything would have been fine with Pitino and Shep if we had kept Tubby or hired John Pelphrey wouldnt it?

  35. My Opinion
    2:35 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    Jeff has his opinion and I can have mine. He played for Rick and we use to cheer for Rick. He was our coach too as fans. Then the coach did an unthinkable. He went to coach UK arch rival and enemy #1. The coach has since made it clear (see Tattoo) who he wants to be remembered by. Jeff feels more comfortable with his coach doing this then fine. I do not have to like it or the comments that Jeff and “His” coach make about the UK program. Jeff got a bit warm and tried to blame Matt. Dude you said what you said about promoting Draft picks and that was a slap at OUR UK coach….. so go kiss Ricks tattoo Jeff

  36. brain
    2:43 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    Those of you saying Shep. is a great spokesman for UK aren’t listening. He’s not speaking for UK. He’s speaking for himself.

  37. Sparky Anderson
    3:35 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    Sheppard and Quickie Rickie are traitors. Plain and simple. They made their beds, and now they can sleep in them, the same bed if they want to. But Shep didn’t clear anything up with the interview. He just reinforced what he has said over and over.

  38. KSR listener
    3:37 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    KSR and Matt did not make this controversy, Jeff Sheppard did. Other radio stations also have been discussing it. I guess it’s only natural to feel an allegiance to your coach, but Jeff seems to put his allegiance to Rick ahead of his allegiance to UK. Also I hate how he has excited the UofL fan base with his comments. GO CATS!

  39. One and Done
    3:45 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    Archie Goodwin will be signing at BBN Legends on July 29th… Come support your one and doners or show your support by dropping off items at BBN Legends by this thursday July 25th for Ron Mercer’s private either way you win!

  40. Marsha
    6:16 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    Let it go! Everyone has a right to their opinion and even Coach Cal wishes they would change the rules!

  41. Sean Woods
    6:27 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    Hey BBN. I’m still waiting for your apology, You guys act as if Shep was the only former Cat to ever “step outta line.”

  42. Pitino
    6:30 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    I am the REAL VILLAIN in this whole Shep thing. If I hadn’t taken the UL job, this would not be happening.

  43. GAWildcat
    7:24 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    Jeff was the 1998 Final Four MVP. He cut down the nets and helped UK hang a banner. He will always be a UK legend.

  44. Ho Lee Fuk
    9:41 pm July 23, 2013 Permalink

    Just so people know, when you write 3,4,or 5 paragraph comments on here, most people do not care what your opinion about the post is to read all of it.