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John Calipari’s Summer of Swag


This morning, the clip of John Calipari calling into Mike Francesa’s show as “John in Kentucky” to defend his coaching skills went viral. If you haven’t listened to it yet, stop right now and go do so. It’s just the latest sign that Swaggy Cal is back, and who can blame him? The Cats look really, really good and it’s only August.

Looking back, Cal’s been swaggy all summer. I spent the afternoon charting his swaggiest moments since his hip surgery back in May. It probably won’t surprise you that there are a lot.

June 30: On the SEC Coaches Summer Teleconference, Calipari took a shot at Jeff Goodman, who put Cal tenth in his rankings of coaches that best develop talent for the NBA:

“Just if you know how I am and what I’m about, if you’ve really followed, I would rather them say that, after my entire group gets drafted — ‘Yeah, I’m not really sure he develops players and he can coach’ and all that stuff; ‘they were pros’ — but they all get drafted. OK, I’m good with that. That doesn’t bother me. Say it as long as they keep continuing to get drafted. And then when they go to the league, they’re on the all-rookie teams, they’re rookie of the year, they’re on Olympic teams, one is the MVP of the NBA. They’re prepared in that sense, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Cal claims he doesn’t pay attention to what the national media is saying, but this proves he totally does, and when he’s feeling good, he’s not afraid to punch back. On that same call, he raved about UK’s “unique situation” of having a core group of veterans to go along with another batch of newcomers. 

July 1: Calipari posts “20 questions every athlete should ask a prospective coach” on his website, his latest recruiting manifesto. After reading it, recruits will pretty much ask themselves one question: “Why wouldn’t I go to Kentucky?”.

July 8: Calipari flies back to Lexington after a book signing in Nashville to lead the team in their first skill instruction of the summer. Most people would enjoy a night in Nashville, or simply go to bed once they got back to Lexington after a late flight. Not Cal. As he put it on Twitter, “I am jacked.”

July 10: Cal films his practice report for and raves about how his team “loooooooves” playing basketball. He gave an update on a few of the players and gave the camera this look after saying Andrew Harrison did a 360-degree dunk:

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 1.48.58 PM

In this report, Cal talked about splitting his team into two lineups for the first time, a hint of the platoon substitutions we saw in the Bahamas. “I had a ball,” Cal said of his first workout with the team. We can tell.

July 16: Calipari goes to the ESPYS and can’t stop laughing.

He also gets a shoutout from Drake, who called him “one of the best men I’ve ever met in my life.”

July 19: Calipari returned home from a recruiting trip to find his team in the gym late at night putting in some extra work. He was so happy he had them pose for a group picture and tweeted about it:

July 20: Heading home after a charity gala, Cal tweets he is “absolutely juiced” to work with his team the next day.

July 21: We all know Cal’s best teams blend talent and experience. After one of their practices, Cal told the Big Blue Nation how happy he is to have older guys to help the freshmen transition into his system:

August 6: In his press conference previewing the Big Blue Bahamas tour, Calipari says that his team “probably shouldn’t win any of the games,” and gives reporters this smirk:


Looking back at the Cats’ 5-1 record, we’re smirking too.

August 11: For the second game of the Big Blue Bahamas tour, Calipari let Kenny Payne coach while he watched from the stands. Cal was having such a good time that he took a break to film part of the game for ESPNU.

Yeah, I’d say he’s having fun.

August 12: During halftime of UK’s win over Puerto Rico, Calipari came on the radio with Matt, Tom Leach, and Mike Pratt to share his thoughts on his team’s performance. “This could be pretty special,” Cal said before warning fans not to let the haters sabotage the squad with concerns about too many players and not enough playing time. “Don’t listen to them,” Cal said, repeating it again for emphasis. Translation: don’t make the same mistake some of you did last season after the South Carolina loss. He’s got this.


August 12: In his ESPNU interview during the same game, a Derek Willis dunk got Cal so excited he said “hum ditty ditty” on air. He’s giddy too.

August 14: More sappy than swaggy, but still worth mention. John Calipari tweets about seeing footprints of the sand, which reminded him of the poem “Footprints in the Sand.”


August 20: After his appearance on the Mike Francesa show in New York, Calipari hears Francesa say he’s not a great X’s and O’s coach, which prompts him to call into the show as “John in Kentucky,” and after hilariously disguising his voice for a few seconds, blasts Frencesa for his comments:

Cal: “Are you saying I can’t coach? Why didn’t you say that while I was sitting next to you? You said ‘he’s not great at X’s and O’s.’ That’s basically saying I can’t coach. You know what they call me? A magician. ‘Cal the magician.’”

Francesa: “Wait a second. Are there better X’s and O’s guys than you?”

Cal: “You think I believe that?”

Francesa: “Yes.”

Cal: “I will pass a lie detector test and say, ‘No.'”

Francesa: “No you won’t. No you won’t.”

Francesa then hung up on him, but Cal had already made his point.

August 21: Cal tweets about his interaction with Francesa: “You can disagree without being disagreeable. Mike Francesa and I are good. Always have been. By the way, once again he’s wrong. LOL!”

LOL! Never change, Cal. Never.

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.

15 Comments for John Calipari’s Summer of Swag

    6:02 pm August 21, 2014 Permalink

    I love “Swaggy Cal”!!!

  2. Caftan
    6:40 pm August 21, 2014 Permalink

    I’m spearheading the movement to change swaggy Cal to SWAGGY C

  3. pierre beauragard
    6:40 pm August 21, 2014 Permalink

    Francesa is just a yankee prick

  4. Tinsley
    7:03 pm August 21, 2014 Permalink

    Cal knows he has a good team and that is why he has a chip. You only talk shit when you really suck or when you’re really good. And watching them in the Bahamas they are REALLY REALLY REALLY GREAT

  5. bung
    7:12 pm August 21, 2014 Permalink

    our fast break is awesome…I hope it is now a requirement…Go Cal…

  6. theSkinny81
    7:35 pm August 21, 2014 Permalink

    Well, Rick Pitino is reportedly a “great X’s and O’s coach”, but he continues to be owned by Coach Cal aka The Great Motivator aka The Magician…

  7. kentuck1
    9:51 pm August 21, 2014 Permalink

    Coach Cal is having a good time. He knows he’s got a pretty decent team. The team knows they are pretty good also. An “X and O” coach tries to compensate for lack of talent by drawing up different strategies for his team in tight games. That’s all well and good if you don’t have the talent of other teams. But basketball is not a complicated game. You put the ball in the hoop on offense and stop your opponent from putting the ball in the hoop on defense. Coach Cal understands that and tries to get the best players to put the ball in the hoop. He’s been fairly successful thus far.

  8. John from Kentucky
    11:46 pm August 21, 2014 Permalink

    You forgot when I flew back to Lexington during the Peach Jam to hangout with Lebron at the KBA

  9. bigcatstanding
    1:55 am August 22, 2014 Permalink

    I get so sick of these jealous, full of venom clowns, like that stand in front of the mirror, to perfect his radio voice. reason being he’s too damn ugly to be on TV. anyway Him making that lame ass comment, about John Calipari not being a great X’s and O’s coach. I guess at UMass with one, that’s right a total of 1 NBA prospect, & a bunch of undersized no names to the Final Four, his X’s and O’s were terrible then as well. of course the year he took Memphis to the championship game, that team was loaded with professionals as well lol. I can only think of one that is making money in the United States. so yeah that clown is dead on, John Calipari can’t coach, he’s basically a cheerleader that pumps the guys up and hopes they are so excited they do well. what a complete tard!!!!

  10. BBN
    8:55 am August 22, 2014 Permalink

    We love our coach!

  11. theWilkman
    10:11 am August 22, 2014 Permalink

    Should have included: Cal’s face during both in-game interviews. The man was positively beaming, that’s all I needed to see to know this team will be special.

  12. Tom
    12:44 pm August 22, 2014 Permalink

    Where was the great coaching at the game in Moon Township?
    There are four other coaches who hung banners in Rupp.
    None of them repeatedly told us how great he was.
    He’s a real jewel.

    • Dee W.
      2:49 pm August 23, 2014 Permalink

      You speak as though none of those other coaches had bad losses at bad times – well they did.

      And this one doesn’t “repeatedly tell us how great he is”, either. The only time there are any quotes even going in that direction above is during the banter with that radio host.

  13. Roger Lee
    12:50 pm August 22, 2014 Permalink

    Hey Coach, you must be doing something right, people like Francesa only criticize the best. People like Francesa are what’s wrong with the world today, always criticizing and never giving credit, but then that’s how he makes his living. John Calipari is the best coach, bar none, in college basketball. If Francesa is so good let’s compare his record against Coach Cal’s, oh I forgot Francesa is not a COACH!!!!

    GO BIG BLUE!!!

  14. Matt B
    10:52 pm August 22, 2014 Permalink

    Those footprints carrying Cal were Tyler Ulis’s, and like Jesus, if he follows him, he will have to give up many of his friends.