Calipari familiar with chaos, controversy


Head coach John Calipari applaudes after the UK men’s basketball 88-44 win over Drexel at Rupp Arena on Monday, Dec. 21, 2009. Photo by Adam Wolffbrandt

Chaos is always swirling around UK head coach John Calipari, engulfing everything the program does.

Even in the offseason — is there even an offseason anymore? — there was controversy swirling, shots taken, rumors spreading.

Calipari seems resigned to his fate.

“It’s just how it is, coaching at Kentucky,” Calipari said at UK Media Day, as reporters asked him questions about a myriad of topics for 60 full minutes.

Over the summer, there were articles written about a) Eric Bledsoe potentially receiving an illegitimate grade boost in a high school Algebra class, b) Enes Kanter potentially receiving a salary from his Turkish club and c) UK recruit Anthony Davis potentially receiving money for his commitment.

None have been proven.

“You could say I don’t want to deal with that, so don’t coach here,” Calipari said.

And yet he is coaching here. Although he expected nonstop attention upon taking the job, he said he had no time to even reflect on everything that was said over the summer.

“I’m going to be a lightning rod,” Calipari said. “This program is a lightning rod. So now you’ve got two lightning rods.

First-year Auburn head coach Tony Barbee, who played under Calipari at Massachusetts and was an assistant coach to Calipari for seven years, drew on nature for a different metaphor.

“I’ve always said to coach that he has to have it swirling around him — that’s the kind of personality he is — to be successful,” Barbee said at SEC Media Day. “That’s what drives him every day, just everything swirling around him. He needs those waters real muddy and dirty and rough.”