After taking a 20-point L to John Calipari’s sixth-ranked Wildcats, Bruce Pearl was asked to discuss his relationship with Calipari, which goes back to their Tennessee-Memphis rivalry of a decade ago.
Pearl had some really nice things to say about Cal, which I will share with you below at this time:
“For a long, long time, one of the greatest jobs in the history of college basketball is what John Calipari did at UMass. I’ve said it for a long time. I grew up in Boston and I went to Boston College. I was there and I left when I was 22 years old. I know what UMass basketball was, I know what he made it, and I know what it has been since he left. He doesn’t get nearly enough credit for that.
When he went to Memphis, he was at a place, and it’s hard to believe this, I was at the big school. I was at Tennessee and Memphis was a small school in the corner. They hated Tennessee, and that was the beginning of John and I having a bit of a rivalry. I’d like to think that the things he doesn’t like about me are some of the things I don’t like about him, but I have great respect for him. I always have. When you have respect for a coach like that, and I do, you have to challenge John. I want him to have to prepare to play Auburn. I want him to be pissed off that we beat them last year. They weren’t a great team and we made some shots and made some plays. It was a tough place to play and it matters if you can beat John Calipari at Kentucky. You do want to earn the respect of them here because you respect him.”
In response to that, Calipari said (jokingly I assume), “They beat us last year?!”
Cal then went on to say, “You’re competing in a league. You’re trying to do your best and you’re going against guys, but I have no problem with Bruce. He’s doing a good job.”