John Calipari finally released his highly-anticipated Cal Cast with Rick Pitino when many of you were in bed late Wednesday night. If you’re just now learning of its release or haven’t gotten around to listening to it just yet, take a moment to read some of the highlights in our recap below.
The entire podcast can be found on iTunes or at the bottom of this post and I encourage you to give it a listen as Pitino shares stories from his past and the two coaches try to convince us that they can tolerate each other.
The podcast’s intro is pretty cheesy.
Coach Cal added sound effects and a little acting to try to make it sound like he and Pitino were fist-fighting before the interview began. There is a fake door slam; fake shouting; fake grunting; fake sword fighting; a dog growling and barking; and Cal yelling, “Hey, you bit me! What the…”
“Folks, that was fake,” Cal assured his listeners, as if we fell for the over-the-top brawl to start the show.
The interview begins with book talk.
“I gotta ask you before we get started — have you read my new book?”
Pitino admitted to reading the jacket of Calipari’s new book and then buying copies for all five of his assists (which I don’t believe), while Calipari said he didn’t even glance at Pitino’s book.
“Everyone thought I copied your title, but it was the publisher who came up with it,” Cal said of the coincidence in the similar titles.
Pitino initially learned the magnitude of UK basketball from Bill Keightley and Cawood Ledford.
Pitino told the story of meeting UK’s equipment manager, Bill Keightley, when he first arrived in Lexington.
“The way he talked about Louisville, it’s like Lucifer with horns,” he said. “I thought Denny Crum had horns coming out of his head the way he was talking.”
“And then I met Cawood Ledford, who is the ultimate gentleman, and he would tell me about the early days and what it meant — you know, people on a hillside in Eastern Kentucky listening to the radio to just get the last play of the game. Then you realize that we don’t have professional sports; by in large we are a poor state; and what the people had is Kentucky basketball in a pocket in the middle of the state, and then there is Louisville basketball because there are no professional teams.”
“So I watched and you get educated by Cawood and Bill and the older guys, You realize it’s a symbol of pride. It’s their life.” … “What I witnessed from my years there was something to behold.”
“How would you like to live with being 1-8?”
Pitino had a nice comeback when Calipari told him he has to live with losing to Louisville for the rest of the year. Pitino asked, “Well how would you like to live with being 1-8?”
It produced one of the many exaggerated Calipari laughs we heard throughout the interview.
Kentucky’s facilities were “antiquated” when Pitino took the job.
Pitino said he couldn’t believe how outdated everything was when he took over in 1989.
“Everything was so antiquated, they just lived on the reputation of Kentucky basketball. It was the name. From a facilities standpoint, everyone would be shocked what we have today.”
He also said he never would’ve been able to turn the program around without Jamal Mashburn and C.M. Newton.
More old-time stories from Pitino’s time in Lexington…
— When he first arrived on campus, he told Rock Oliver, who was his strength coach, to go around town and find out which businesses were giving discounts to players. Pitino told Oliver to warn business owners that they would lose their season tickets if they didn’t comply with NCAA rules.
— Fans were stealing dirt from Pitino’s front yard (now Matthew Mitchell’s front yard) and putting it in jars when he moved to town.
— After losing to Louisville one year, a female fan gave Pitino a copy of “The Bodyguard” to tell him he would need one after losing the rivalry game.
Coach Cal indirectly asked him about the scandal.
Before wrapping up the interview, Calipari asked about “accountability” and “responsibility” in the coaching profession; obviously a question about Pitino’s latest scandal. To that, Pitino compared coaching to being a parent, saying there is only so much control they can have over young adults, and that coaches can’t be “scapegoats for society today.”
“If I have 29 (assistants) that went on to prosperity and one went the wrong way, well, I’ve gotta be accountable for that one person and I feel very saddened that he did the wrong thing,” he went on to say. “That being said, there’s certain things that we can’t control in our lives. This is a college atmosphere right now and certain things that we’re not in control of.”
Cal ended it with well wishes (kind of).
“I wish you luck… until we play you next year and I hope we beat your brains in because that was just miserable for me walking off that court,” he said in closing.
There is a whole lot more to be heard in the podcast, including Pitino recommending Cal to the Nets, Brad Calipari, Richard Pitino, Rick’s coaching tree, and more: