Kentucky was the talk of college basketball yesterday following the embarrassing loss to South Carolina, with national pundits from far and wide weighing in on the Wildcats’ struggles. The story led off ESPN’s Pardon the Interruptionand both Tony Kornheiser and Micheal Wilbon blasted Kentucky fans for their treatment of John Calipari, specifically, the smattering of boos he received on Tuesday night and the “Please Go To Texas” sign a fan held up behind the bench before being ejected. For that, both hosts believe Calipari should leave Kentucky and set up shop elsewhere; in fact, Wilbon said he should give the BBN double-birds as he leaves Rupp Arena.
“I hope it’s his last year,” Wilbon said. “John Calipari, with the transfer portal being what it is and how it reshapes college sports, particularly football and basketball, John Calipari as great a coach he is, as a great a recruiter, an attractor of talent, John Calipari could be like a pop-up store. He can go to any damn place in America.
“He’s a northeastern guy, largely, he can go set up shop anywhere and in one season, be in the tournament, and two, a threat to win the tournament so John Calipari can walk off the floor in Lexington — he won’t do this, I would do this — he could give people the double bird if he wanted. He can say, I’ll walk right out of here, I’ll take half these kids with me.”
“I’ve gotta tell you, when I heard about this, I was stunned,” he said. “That they’re booing John Calipari. I understand it’s a basketball school, I understand they’re rabid fans, they’re Big Blue. I get all of that. But you’re booing a guy who won a national championship and went to three Final Fours? You’re booing a guy who basically has stocked half the teams in the NBA with Kentucky players?”
Kornheiser did acknowledge the fatigue that comes with the one-and-done system at Kentucky but failed to address the main issue for fans right now: when Calipari fails to bring in elite talent, as in recent years, the on-court results aren’ there. Kornheiser mentioned the national championship and Final Fours but Kentucky hasn’t advanced past the Elite Eight since 2015 or won an NCAA Tournament game since 2019.
“Now, I understand that Cal is somewhat responsible for this because of the style that he has embraced in recruiting. Nobody has embraced the one and done more than Cal. And he says to the players all the time, he says to his recruits, my job is to get you ready for the NBA. So, consequently, the recruits have no loyalty to the University of Kentucky and the fans of Kentucky have no loyalty to people who are only going to be there for a year. There’s a revolving door there. They’re always reloading. I understand that, but you booing this guy? Really? You know what he should do? He should go to Texas and he should go to Texas because in two years, they’ll be back in the SEC, and he can beat Kentucky at Kentucky.”
Wilbon said Calipari should choose a different destination, a basketball school, and “a pop store” of prized recruits and players will appear the next day.
“All these fans at every great athletic school, they all overrate their own involvement and their own situation,” Wilbon added. “Let’s fire a guy that goes 9-3 because we’re better than that. Maybe you’re not. Kentucky? Please.”
Hooo-boy. That’ll get people talking this morning.