| Louisville Courier Journal
John Calipari: Kentucky-Louisville basketball rivalry is ‘good for our state’
Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari shared his thoughts on whether the UK-Louisville rivalry game will be played in 2020.
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Chris Mack reignited the intensity of the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry with an inflammatory Twitter video last month.
John Calipari claims he did not even watch it.
“I didn’t,” Calipari said. “Somebody told me about it. I can’t even remember who told me there was a lot of whining on it. I don’t know. Here’s what I would say to you: He and I have talked since then. It never came up.
“Guys that take shots. When you shoot arrows at me, they go through bazooka holes. They barely touch skin, they may not touch skin, so I don’t worry about all that.”
On Sept. 29, Mack took to Twitter to clap back at Calipari’s claim that Kentucky had a backup opponent lined up if Louisville reneged on the contracted 2020 game due to Mack’s publicly stated worry about the equity of playing in front of few or no fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a video lasting just more than two minutes, Mack alleged Kentucky had actually backed out of an agreed upon Dec. 12 date before the pandemic and Kentucky officials had gone to ESPN to try and change the scheduling of another Louisville game without Louisville’s knowledge or permission.
Mack closed his video by indicating Louisville would host the game this season as scheduled, and Calipari tweeted, “See you Dec. 26th. Can’t wait!” later that night.
The war of words was not finished though.
On Oct. 8, Calipari appeared to hide a shot at Mack in a Twitter video encouraging fans to vote.
The video started with Calipari saying, “I know you’ve been waiting for me to talk, because there’s all kind of important things to talk about,” but was then sped up so fast that Calipari’s words become impossible to understand while he gesticulates wildly behind his desk before slowing down in time for Calipari to say, “Now, if you want to be heard, Vote! And please, put your mask on.”
The Courier Journal downloaded Calipari’s video and slowed it to 25% speed, revealing the content of the middle part of video.
Calipari starts by pointing at a sheet of paper on his desk and referencing his former players’ performance in the NBA finals. Then, he turns to the feud with Mack.
“Scheduling, the guy down west, he’s nuts, he’s out of his mind,” Calipari says.
Kentucky has not announced its nonconference schedule yet, but with the Louisville game apparently back on tap, the team’s nine non-conference games appear especially difficult for a team that returns just one player who scored a point last season.
- Three games in UK’s multi-team event hosted at Rupp Arena (Detroit Mercy has confirmed its participation, and Morehead State and Richmond are reportedly the other two teams set for the event.)
- Champions Classic vs. Kansas in Orlando (Reportedly set for Dec. 1)
- Home games against Notre Dame and Texas (Jan. 30) in Big 12/SEC Challenge
- Holiday Hoopsgiving vs. Georgia Tech in Atlanta
- CBS Sports Classic vs. UCLA
- At Louisville (Likely on Dec. 26)
Calipari said he talked with Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart, who is serving as the chair of the men’s basketball selection committee this season, about whether Kentucky would be penalized in seeding for losing multiple non-conference games when other teams might play lighter schedules.
“I think this is a year, you’re not worried about this record as much as playing and playing well and counting on the committee to pick the best teams,” Calipari said. “Who are they? And it’s not going to be by record. You’ve got some teams that are going to play six ‘buy games’ and they’re playing the lightest schedule they can get, they’re trying to stay on their campus. Nothing wrong with that. I think it’s safer to play other Power 5s who are testing and protocols like we are, but the problem with that is you’re not going to win as many games.”
Follow Jon Hale on Twitter at @JonHale_CJ.