Kentucky Basketball Fans Take Criticism Over One-&-Dones So Personally

by Kent Sterling

Not many of Calipari's recruits stick around the University of Kentucky for four year.

Not many of Calipari’s recruits stick around the University of Kentucky for four year.

“Calipari doesn’t like the (one-and-done) rule anymore than you do!” a relentless wave of Kentucky fans write in their comments to my posts critical of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari.

They also write that Calipari just recruits the kids destined for the NBA better than anyone else, and to hate Kentucky for that reflects jealousy unbecoming a journalist.  Some bring up Duke and Kansas as programs that also benefit from the one-and-done rule.  The truth is that Duke has had three freshman declare their eligibility for the draft since 2000, and Bill Self has had a total of three since coming to Kansas in 2003.  From 2010-2013, Calipari has used the talents of 11 kids who spent less than one year in Lexington before jumping to the NBA.

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There are insults – some funny, some silly, and others that reflect an unhealthy anger.  I enjoy the funny insults, and pity those without the intellectual wherewithal to channel their anger properly toward humor.  If you can’t be angry and funny, don’t indulge in either.

I hold no angst toward the university or the commonwealth’s people.  When Tubby Smith was the coach, I enjoyed watching the Wildcats play.  My dissatisfaction with John Calipari’s use of very talented athletes is an indictment only of him.  Those who support Calipari view the world through the opposite end of the kaleidoscope, but dissent is what makes the world go around.  Debate is enjoyable – at least for me.  Through conversation, maybe I will gain a little wisdom.

Wouldn’t that be nice?  Two commentors – Philboyd Studge and Warren from TN, I enjoy quite a bit.  Both are really smart and possess a skill in writing their thoughts that I admire.  Philboyd is always clever and Warren is sincere and thoughtful.

Let me try to explain a few things to make my point a little clearer:

  • I am not accusing Calipari of cheating, as defined by the NCAA.  I find it hard to believe that players at the highest level of college basketball don’t receive benefits beyond those allowed, but I don’t begrudge any athlete a little extra cash.  There is plenty of money in college athletics, and for the athletes not to get a taste over, under, or around the table is unjust.  I am certain that Calipari is bright enough to have built several Chinese walls between himself and the payments, if there are any.
  • Whether Calipari knew about the relationship between the agent and Marcus Camby at UMass that caused problems, I don’t have a clue.  Similarly, I don’t know anything specifically damning about the SAT issues with Derrick Rose that led to the NCAA woes at Memphis.  Both occurred under Calipari’s watch, and because it’s plausible if not likely that he didn’t collaborate in either event, it’s tough to blame him.  It’s also impossible to ignore that he is the only coach to have two visits to the Final Four wiped from the NCAA record books.
  • People in Kentucky are beyond excused for finding joy in the Wildcat victories.  These are tough times, and if something brings you joy and others aren’t hurt by it, what the hell could be wrong with that?
  • Hating Kentuckians because of their complicity in allowing Calipari to employ the most pervasive use of the ‘neo-plantation mentality’ that modern NCAA inventor Walter Byers described would be ridiculous.  Not calling attention to it so maybe a kid like last night’s Trestor Award winner Trey Lyles – an NBA bound young man with smarts as well as bulk and athleticism – might ask himself why Cal takes home $5-mil while he will enjoy the fruits of 30 credit hours in the 2014-2015 school year might ask just what the hell is going on would be unconscionable.

Kentucky will play Michigan this afternoon for a trip to the Final Four, and I will hope that the Wolverines find a way past the minor league Wildcat franchise to earn a spot in Arlington, not because I hate UK or Kentuckians, but because I have zero respect for the way John Calipari builds and rebuilds his program.

11 thoughts on “Kentucky Basketball Fans Take Criticism Over One-&-Dones So Personally

  1. Warren in TN

    First of all, I really appreciate your kind words, Kent. Let me get right down to the business addressing your article.

    I hope that maybe I can say something here that can effect a change, or at least, a sincere effort on your part to reach out, learn and grow, and possibly allow you to revisit your feelings towards Coach John Calipari.

    I could write a long piece where I could debate his pro’s and con’s with you, but I think this approach (which just occurred to me) may be the most effective for you in forming an evolving opinion about him….

    Maybe you could try to reach out to those people that are closest to him, that are personal friends with him, close professional friends (fellow coaches both then and now) and perhaps even reach out to John Calipari himself. Doing so over a period of time just might clarify some issues you have with him. Maybe that’s not a practical thing to do, I would have no idea how to approach doing it, but I think it would be something that would provide some valuable insight to you that maybe you could then disseminate to your readers like me. I’m sure if you made that kind of genuine effort, you would have some VERY interesting things to share from such a journey.

    I dunno, it’s just a thought, my friend. It might end up turning out that you would find Coach Calipari and friends, etc., may be more receptive to you in helping you to get to know him better. It might just surprise us all with the results such a investigative journalist as yourself can find out. I’d love to see that happen and then hear what you think about him and what he’s doing at Kentucky.

    And perhaps, just perhaps, it might make a change in how you view the man, and reconsider your current stance, which is so very Anti-Calipari.

    As for myself, that’s what I would try to do if I sincerely felt in such a harsh way if it really bothered me, as it seems to bother you. All respects and no malice intended with those comments, Kent.

    Please allow me to close with a word about the current run Kentucky is on ……

    I’ve never seen a run where a team defeated 3 of the past 4 final four participants from a previous year, not to even mention the thrilling, awesome, and incredible level of play in three consecutive NCAA tournament games I’ve ever seen played. That is just to GET INTO the Final Four this year. Also, this region was the most difficult region I’ve ever seen put together by the committee. The last 3 games UK has played, at least for me (and regardless of who it would have been that played the games) is the reason why I love college basketball so very much, and is close to my heart. Kentucky has already been successful in this historic run.

    This is a special Kentucky team and Coach Cal has done an inconceivably great job in getting this Kentucky team to the Final Four. I mean, a month ago, it was truly unthinkable to have Kentucky in the Final Four. I think you’d have to agree with all that, regardless of how you feel about Coach Cal.

    I still hope the best for Indiana, too. I hope that the Hoosiers can make it back to the top of the mountain and take its’ rightful place back among the Blue-Bloods, and give us some more games for the ages. College basketball is just better when the blue bloods are top dogs and everyone else is striving to beat us. It even makes it better for the wanna’ be cinderellas when they knock us off. After all, they always prize knocking off the blue-bloods best of all.

    It’s the way it should be.

    Best wishes, Warren

    1. kentsterling Post author

      I appreciate your thoughts, Warren. While I have never reached out to Calipari, he did reach out to me through the radio station where I worked to offer a rebuttal to a post I authored at He was, in my mind, typically defensive and prickly.

      The problem with speaking directly to Calipari is my instinct to trust and like those with whom I spend any time. Lying to me is easy because I take people at their word, and if Calipari wasn’t a likable guy, there is no way he would have survived as a coach. Asking people questions to which I could script the answers myself is just not very interesting to me. Maybe one day.

      There are many current and former college, high school, and summer coaches to whom I have spoken about Calipari. No idea to be honest whether they are friends of Calipari, but they each speak off the record of a total lack of respect for his methods. Virtually all are certain that he cheats. I have always wondered whether those off record accusations were motivated by jealousy, so I discounted them. Until someone is ready to go on the record, it’s all just talk and I give Calipari the benefit of the doubt in that realm.

      One thing you should know is that I form beliefs with diligence and circumspection. I listen to people smarter than I am, and always try to convey my thoughts as transparently and honestly as possible.

      I appreciate your kindness and well-reasoned thoughts. I write for people like you, and I’m proud you find what’s written here worthy of your time, regardless of whether you agree or not.

      1. Warren in TN

        Thanks for shedding some more light on how you’ve come to your feelings about Coach Cal, and I really super-duper appreciate your candor. I think me and you both go into the early phases of forming opinions in a thoughtful and respectful manner. We also share the same instincts as you alluded to.

        All of which is instructful, or at least, should be, for anyone that is just a third party to coming into an understanding of someone they don’t personally know. You haven’t made me come over to your side of thinking where John Calipari is concerned, but you have made me look at what he does and how he does things with a more critical eye.

        So, after saying that, I think it behooves the average onlooker to be cautious and reserved in forming any definitive, permanent opinions where Coach Cal is concerned. I say that for everyone, and yest I still like the man….


        I’ve made it a point for me to be more mindful, or maybe I should say have a more critical mindset, where he is concerned. Someday, something could happen that truly does come to light to show your (and others that are not pro-cal) attitudes are well founded. i also attribute your writing as a challenge to the way I feel about Calipari, and although I still disagree with your assessment, I think you have valid reasons to feel the way you do. I’ve no qualms with that, because you are transparent and honest in what you put out there, and that’s another thing I like about you, Kent.

        I try to remain open minded to all possibilities as much as possible. It’s important to me to be open-minded and being able to say “hey, I was wrong” or “I’ve learned something important here, and I need to re-examine my feelings on this/that subject.” That allows me to reconsider my thoughts and grow as a human being, and there’s nothing wrong with changing your mind when it is warranted by life experience, or when you learn certain facts.

        At least for me, that’s “wisdom at work” in my life. It’s served me well.

        Keep on writing and sharing your thoughts, I’ve found them instructive and stimulating in reminding myself to be mindful about a great many things!

        1. kentsterling Post author

          Thanks for your continued civility and humanity. I enjoy the vitriol of the other Kentucky fans too, but your comments are a logical and thoughtful change of pace.

  2. Laugherty Daniel

    Write an article condemning IU for exploiting Vonleh and the one and done rule. Until then you are just a fan boy blogger talking out of both sides of your mouth.

      1. ArnoP

        Surely there is medicine for chronic flatulence.

        Kent evidently you woke up with another case of the red butt? I’m real sorry. Maybe a little suave in the right spot would help.

        And I’m not accusing you of being bias or talking out a part of your anatomy that few have the talent for. I just have zero respect for the way you write and respond to the accusing articles you’ve written.

        Perhaps you should showcase your talents in a more suited venue . . . .

        Like Barnum and Bailey.

        After all – we all need a good laugh from time to time.

          1. kentsterling Post author

            brother, I never run out of suave. I got suave up to the gills! But if I was ever going to borrow some debonair – you’re the guy!

    1. kentsterling Post author

      The difference is that the one-and-done rule is the very foundation of Kentucky’s success. Vonleh is the lone one-and-one in the history of Indiana Basketball. I am not a fan of his recruitment, not because he’s leaving but because he was denied the right to earn a living by the NBA. Being compensated with a valueless 36 or so credit hours at Indiana cheats Vonleh out of claiming his market value as a player – even by the corrupt definition of market value set by the NCAA.

      You see me as anti-Kentucky, when in fact I am pro athlete.

      They are being cheated, and Calipari is the coach benefitting most.


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