Chris Mack never meant for his post-Kentucky celebration video with former Louisville offensive lineman Eric Wood to go public. Once it took off on social media, he never had any intention of apologizing for it, except to “clear the air” with John Calipari.
Rather than discussing the 45-point loss to North Carolina, most of Monday’s pre-Notre Dame press conference was centered around the video shared by Drew Franklin of a maskless Mack directing a message to Kenny Payne after December’s victory over UK, his first as the Cardinals’ coach. He made it a point not to apologize. Mack was simply sharing he context of the video.
“I would tell you that most of you know it was the Kentucky game. I was having the Mack Family Christmas. We had a three-day break immediately following the game so I was having Christmas at the house. A few neighbors walked over to my house and they happen to be really, really good friends with Kenny Payne. Golfing buddies, they go way back. They hang out together. I don’t know Kenny that well but Eric [Wood] and his buddy, really, really good friends with Kenny. They thought it would be funny to FaceTime him, text him, give him grief for the game,” Mack said.
“That’s what they did and obviously it led to the video that was then sent to Kenny. That was the context. It was a private video. Obviously it’s not private today, that’s why I’m talking about it to you guys. It was a joke amongst buddies and Kenny. How it got out, I have no idea. It’s really irrelevant. Although Kenny didn’t get it out.”
Once the video got out and Mack realized he stepped in it, two things crossed his mind. First, this is a bad look in the middle of a pandemic. He said he respects the virus that has sidelined his team for eight games, but…
“I will say this, when people come over to my house, which hasn’t been very often since last March, I’m probably a violater, and obviously was that night. Neighbors or friends stopped by, not putting my mask on around the house. So, not a good look. So, for that I’ve got to do better.”
Covid wasn’t the only C-word that worried Mack.
“The first thing I really thought of was Calipari. I didn’t want him think it was some shot, that this was directed out to the worldwide web and I was trying to send a message to him, so that was the first person I called when I was aware of the video yesterday morning. I just wanted to be able to clear the air and tell him the great respect I have for him and his program and the job he’s done. And that’s how I feel. So I wanted him to know it was a joke to Kenny Payne and obviously it went sideways.”
Mack did not share too much of the conversation he had with Kentucky’s coach, but was quick to praise Calipari.
“Gracious as always. He was understanding,” Mack said. “I think he understood the context. Any time I’ve ever dealt with Coach Calipari, he’s been great. He offered a few words of advice, which I’ll just keep between he and I but I was appreciative of his response.”
Never mind the fact that Chris Mack made this little video to try to take a shot at ‘John’ back in September.
To Cardinals’ fans everywhere…. pic.twitter.com/vBMgnduWaD
— Chris Mack (@CoachChrisMack) September 29, 2020
Never mind the fact that three Louisville soccer players got kicked off the team for hosting a party over the summer. They had their scholarships reinstated on appeal but were not accepted back onto the team. Does Mack believe he deserves discipline?
“That’s not really my judgment call. As I said, made an error. It’s not like I invited everybody over for a big party at the house. I’ll be a big boy and whatever comes my way, comes my way, but no.”
The rivalry lost its luster when Rick Pitino broke so many rules, the cheatingest school that ever cheated could not excuse his behavior any longer. Finding a figure to stoke the rivalry’s flames was not going to be easy. Chris Mack came off as a likable guy. Now that he’s sat in the seat long enough, he’s starting to act like a coach the BBN loves to hate. A once stale rivalry has been reignited by a pair of videos over the last six months.
“As I tell my players, when you do things that happen in the spotlight, you’ve got to own it.”
Mack had to own it today. Just wait until he has to “own it” it on the scoreboard every time he faces John Calipari’s Cats.