When it comes to sports, we all know that haters are gonna’ hate. But, there is one man that seems to be hated by nearly everyone; sans Kentucky fans. That man would be John Calipari, head coach of the Wildcats. The ‘Cats find themselves in the Final Four for the third time in the last four years. They are set to face the Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday night and it’s safe to say the majority of the nation will be pulling for the Badgers. Many will be in UW’s corner simply because they want to see Calipari lose.
Calipari is one of the most hated coaches in all of college basketball. Here are seven reasons why.
7. His Look
Fair or not, many think that Calipari’s hair just screams “slime-ball.” I mean, that slicked-back hair perfectly fits with his perceived untrustworthy track record. Imagine him, with that hair, walking into a recruit’s living room attempting to sell Kentucky’s program to a mother much like a traveling salesman. Regardless of whether Calipari really is actually shifty or not, that is how many college basketball fans view him.
6. His Arrogance
How many coaches in America would make the claim “we don’t just play college basketball, we are college basketball”? Coach Cal has a certain swagger about him – he exudes confidence, regardless of whether his team is winning or losing. Regardless of who he’s ever in a room with, he acts like he’s the center of attention. In reality, he probably is – but that doesn’t mean that fans like it. He’s also oddly touchy-feely.
5. His Drama With Colleagues
Coach Calipari is essentially the villain of college hoops. But not only because he wins – more because of his past controversies. Back in 1997, Calipari angrily referred to a reporter as a “Mexican Idiot” and threatened to punch him – reportedly because the reporter gave him a D-grade for his coaching job that year. But ethnic slurs aside, Calipari has been involved in squabbles in the past with other coaches, too. Remember when Temple coach John Chaney said, “I’ll kill you,” to Calipari? I defy you to find another big-time college basketball coach whose life has been threatened by a fellow coach.
4. His 1-And-Dones
Many college basketball fans hate the one-and-done system. Top athletes come to a university for only one year and then pack up and head for the NBA. No coach exemplifies both the good and the bad associated with this rule more than Calipari. Legendary and equally controversial former-coach Bob Knight believes that the rule, and subsequent culture, has “raped” college basketball (an over-the-top comparison no question). This system, and how Calipari utilizes it, is just another factor in why so many fans dislike him.
3. His Current Job
Kentucky is one of the few elite collegiate basketball programs in the country that has enjoyed both recent and historic success. Thus, the university is hated and envied by many. It’s the same reason that people hate the Yankees. The fact that Calipari coaches the Wildcats has intensified hate of him tenfold. There is a built-in hatred for UK which has meshed with many college basketball fan’s already-strong aversion for Calipari. Those two things have created quite the hotbed of hatred since he landed in Lexington.
2. His NCAA Troubles
Calipari is the only coach in NCAA history to have trips to the Final Four vacated at two different schools; UMass and Memphis – not exactly the type of thing you want on your resume. But it sums up his coaching career perfectly; successful yet controversial. This leads some college basketball fans to wonder if and when something will come out about his runs to the Final Four with Kentucky.
Both of his Naismith Coach of the Year awards came in seasons that were later vacated by the NCAA. Yes, Calipari does not technically have any violations to his name but the vacated wins say more than enough about his coaching career. Calipari is often labeled as a “cheater” – this is why.
1. His Success
Honestly, a career record of 552–172 (.762) cannot be ignored. Regardless of multiple controversies, that winning percentage is as impressive as it gets. Plus, he has a ring – obtained when Kentucky defeated Kansas for the National Championship in 2012 – to go along with it. Calipari has to be regarded as one of the top coaches in the nation — and he’s certainly paid that way. Three Final Four appearances in four years is an extremely impressive accomplishment, especially when you factor in that Calipari uses mostly freshmen to make these runs. Calipari has to be regarded as one of the top recruiters in college basketball and one of the best coaches at consistently molding young kids into winners.
People tend to dislike those who are successful. This is even more true in sports. On top of all of the potentially negative reasons why college basketball fans may dislike Calipari, the number one reason has to be his continued success.
Unfortunately for those who dislike Calipari, there is no reason to think that he’s going to fail anytime soon. And as far as being disliked, I’m sure Calipari wouldn’t want it any other way.