Knight’s Calipari Remark — Let It Go

Posted by jstevrtc on December 18th, 2009

No doubt by now you’ve heard about Bobby Knight’s return trip to Indiana last night to speak at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, and the lick he got in on Kentucky head honcho John Calipari.  Just so we’ll have it in front of us, here’s what the General said:

“We’ve gotten into this situation where integrity is really lacking and that’s why I’m glad I’m not coaching.  You see, we’ve got a coach at Kentucky who put two schools on probation and he’s still coaching.  I really don’t understand that.”

That’s from the report on Knight’s trip to Indianapolis for his speaking appearance.  The initial reaction for most people is going to be to question Bob Knight’s definition of integrity.  They’ll reel off a laundry list of Knight’s transgressions and try to discredit him in that fashion.  They’ll assault his character and call him all kinds of nasty names.  Much will be written about the irony of Bob Knight accusing another man of a lack of integrity.

Forget the slam...does he have his facts right?

Forget the slam...does he have his facts right?

Of greater importance to us, though, is the actual content of what the guy said.  Everything you read is going to focus on his slam of Calipari (though he didn’t actually say the name, for some reason), but we think any examination of the statement should start with a much more basic question:  is what he said factual?  Were things really “cleaner” back in the good ol’ days of Knight’s time of prowling the sideline?  And did John Calipari really put two schools on probation?

First, let’s deal with the first claim — that there’s less integrity now than there was, say, 25 years ago.  We’ll have to disagree with The General on that one.  The NCAA is much more powerful these days than it was then.  Coaches, players, and even boosters are monitored more closely than ever.  Sports programs at colleges and universities all over the country are so concerned with maintaining a clean image and are so afraid of the NCAA that, to play it safe, they often self-report even the smallest possibility of something that could be considered an infraction.  Despite their incredible achievements, some of the faces that would go on college basketball’s Mount Rushmore of Coaches — and yes, we’re talking about legendary names like Rupp and Wooden, among others  — carry with them to this day suspicion about certain aspects of how they ran their programs.  We’re not naive enough to think that everything’s totally clean now, but the era of recruits having new cars and bags of money thrown at them is gone.  Things were much more corrupt in the good ol’ days that Knight is saying were so comparatively wholesome.  Blue Chips was then, not now.

Does Noltes character in this movie remind you of anyone?

Does Nolte's character in this movie remind you of anyone?

Second, there’s Knight’s accusation that John Calipari put two schools on probation.  Again, we’d like to know Knight’s evidence on this.  Everyone knows how Massachusetts and Memphis were both sanctioned by the NCAA (there’s that power of the NCAA we were talking about) during the times that Calipari was running things at those programs.  What you hear much less about is that Calipari was never directly found to have done anything wrong at either locale.  The NCAA, in a letter regarding their Memphis investigation, specifically told Calipari that he was “not at risk” in those proceedings.  Knight is guilty of falling into a very tempting trap known as — and you logic scholars can tell me if I get this wrong — a cum hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy in his thinking.  In other words, just because two things happen at the same time doesn’t mean that one caused the other.  You’ll often hear really smart people (unlike your author here) state this as “correlation doesn’t imply causation.”  We don’t know if Calipari is guilty or innocent.  But if the NCAA didn’t have evidence to say Calipari was guilty of all this wrongdoing of which he’s often accused, and we all agree that the NCAA is the governing body which has the final say, then we have to presume his innocence.  So where is Knight’s basis in making his accusation that Calipari put two schools on probation?  Most likely…nowhere.

Upon reading Knight’s statement and considering the two aspects of it above, this blogger was reminded of a great Federal Express commercial from a few years ago that made fun of that sort of guy we all know who just always gets things wrong…

It’s doubtful, though, that anyone close to him will call Knight out on his lack of actual facts in the way these folks hammered their bespectacled co-worker.  So if you’re a Calipari supporter of any kind and you’re all ticked off about what Knight said — don’t be.  Because Knight’s premises behind that insult are factually untrue, there’s no issue here.  We guarantee John Calipari won’t bother to address it except to laugh at it.  Lest he continue to look like a man who just wants to grab headlines where he can (truth be damned), Knight needs to produce one of two things:  the evidence behind his statements, or an apology to Calipari. 

I wouldn’t hold my breath.  Best to just let it go.


jstevrtc (547 Posts)

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30 responses to “Knight’s Calipari Remark — Let It Go”

  1. Chip Erwin says:

    Bobby the arrogant, says this type stuff just to bring him self back into the spot light, He is just and old man who has left more negative
    history behind that positive. A man who hates all things and people who are not his toads or all things that he can’t claim he did, He cursed and belittled the press while showing how ill manner he is, never showing any respect to anybody, he was the man. Now he is the big man on ESPN and his toads are kissing his butt, He should just crawl off with his arrogance and his Oil Sponsors sweaters and leave the team alone that he couldn’t beat, while showing the world what an axx hxxx he really was and is.

  2. Crow says:

    Nice to see someone that understands the unfounded slander Knight so freely tosses around like some big fat pious Santa Clause with a frost-bitten arse. He’s a blowhard that tries to imply he no longer is successful because the game became crooked and he wasn’t willing to cheat.

    Yeah, Bobby, that’s what happened. Keep telling yourself that you arrogant jackass. Just lay back and enjoy it.

  3. Ben Wimsatt says:

    I wish someone had the balls to stand up to Bobby!

  4. Fran says:

    He is wrong, neither of the two schools were put on probation. They both had games eradicated but Memphis is not on probation.

  5. Graham says:

    Having moved from God’s Country (Kentucky) to Hoosier land back in ’98 for prosperity and babes (don’t question the propserity or babes. I second guess myself enough for that), I have been subjected to these “IU” fans on an almost daily basis. They drank the kool-aid a long time ago and Chip hit it on the head: he is an arrogant pompous ass that never showed anyone, lest his own son, any respect. I was here in the middle of the Neil Reed incident and his last chance reprimand handed down by Miles Brand. The comments he made were nothing like apologies, promise of more self-control, image of the university. He always talked about that he did it all because he loved those damn kids! (getting teary now, NOT!) His attitude has always been his way or the highway. And while the other commenters are absolutely correct, especially the author, that his comments are lack of any fact basis, you will not find one single piece of the media in this state actually make a follow up question. And you will never get him to talk about it openly or comment again. He is a coward within the shell of a bear. Ready to growl at anyone, but not because of what they say or ask, but because he is afraid you might actually find out the truth about him: he’s nothing more than a self-rightous idiot. The sad thing is that many IU fans became Texas Tech fans. Not because of an endearing appreciation for the university, but to follow him. That’s not a fan, that’s not honorable, it’s actually more coward than him.

  6. Wheatgerm says:

    What a refreshingly reasoned analysis. Thing is, as in politics, people believe what they want to believe. The overwhelming question is, does anyone at ESPN have the stones to stands up to this? To insist on setting the record straight? Vitale? Bilas? Anyone?

  7. Boompah says:

    Even more refreshing than the well-written commentary is the feedback. It isn’t merely that I happen to side with the posters, it is the civility of them that impresses me. Well done.

    Is there some sort of bottom-feeder filter on this site?

    I have stopped checking the reader comments on the Courier-Journal and Herald-Leader Web sites. Too many of them prove the veracity of C.M. Newton’s comment that talk radio and Internet chat rooms are nothing more than “pooled ignorance.”

  8. bogeyboy says:

    This got linked over at TBK and I’m glad it did. Great piece…great insight. You’re right of course, Knight will never back up his BS or apologize. No one will call him to task. The best thing to do is shrug and say, oh well…it’s just Bobby and then forget him.
    Thanks again for the breath of fresh air. I’ll start coming over here for good commentary. You sure won’t find it at ESPN or any of the other sport money machines.

  9. Brian says:

    Another job well done by Coach Knight. He is right on the money. I like Calipari as an in-game coach (there aren’t many better ones out there) but he is as dirty as can be on the recruiting trail.

  10. Bo says:

    Proof? Or just a Bob Knight wannabe?

  11. SCOTT says:

    Brian, this is what we are talking about. Did you even read the column? Can you comprehend? Explain this to me. I want you to touch on each of the facts presented and debunk them. Go ahead, I am waiting.

  12. ransmith says:

    Knight has many good traits, but he has a long history of irrational actions, and this is simply just more of that.

  13. Todd says:

    Brian you seem to falling into the footsteps of your ole’buddy coach knight. Show some proof to what you chose to say about Coach Cal instead of jumping on the coattails of a talking head. Success of one will always bring jealousy from another. Even Wildcat fans are guilty of such. If Coach K, Coach Pitino, Coach Roy would not be successful coaches, I would be willing to say most Wildcat fans would care less about them. Instead we despise them because in reality they are relevant. Coach Cal is relevant and is doing a Great job of being a successful coach and until he does something that he is found guilty of, I will support him 100% as the FACTS SHOW.

  14. Brian says:

    I don’t agree with the article here. There have been so many rumors floating around for years regarding Calipari. Where there’s smoke there’s fire. Cal is not the only coach though. Pitino, Boeheim, Calhoun are just as bad. It’s just the way it is in college basketball these days. That’s how the top programs keep reloading year after year.

    Just because the corrupt NCAA says he didn’t do something doesn’t mean he didn’t do it. Ever heard of a cover up? The NCAA wouldn’t dare touch John Calipari now that he’s at Kentucky. The NCAA spends its time going after the little guys so that it creates the appearance of doing something. The NCAA stays away from the big boys of college basketball because the consequences for the sport as a whole would be too great.

  15. Brian says:

    Not surprising that UK fans would go apesh*t over this. Would you all be doing the same if Cal was at Memphis?

  16. Crow says:

    How long did the Indiana fans excuse Knight’s boorish behavior again?

    That’s what I thought. You put up with this windbag and enabled his egomaniacal outbursts to grow to the point the were no longer tolerable even for a fanbase that was raised on abuse and belittlement. Degrading women and minorities was Knight’s stock in trade. I guess the fact that Cal is “EYE-talian” made it all the sweeter for Knight. One thing is for sure, I bet Knight is happy to finally draw some attention to himself, afterall it’s been what… 20-30 years since he’s been relevant in college basketball?

    Also, I just love the absurd notion that Knight left the game because it became so corrupt. Right. That’s rational. Are we REALLY supposed to believe recruiting is dirtier now than it was in the 70’s and 80’s?

    I guess fat, dumb, and loud works well in Indiana as long as you are frothing at the mouth and red faced.

  17. Chad says:

    Brian you make absolutly no sense. IU went on probation, UK went of probation, KU went on probation, NCAA doesn’t care. Clearing house approved Rose so any school that got him would have had wins vacated, and any school that got him would have played him, period. If he went to a small school, didn’t play for Cal and didn’t go #1 in the draft the NCAA would have never investigated after the fact. If they wanted to COVERUP they could have said the clearing house cleared him, end of story. (which is what should have happened) The word that sticks out the most is RUMORS, look up the definition of rumor then throw stones. Cal reloads every year because he gets kids to the league and that is what they want. AMERICA IS JUST MAD BECAUSE WERE BACK!!!

  18. Chad says:


  19. david says:

    the question is would Knight have said anything if Calipari was not at UK??? i highly doubt it, it is just another in a long line of shots he has taken at UK.

  20. John Wooden says:

    In my day, we had associates that saw to the needs of our recruits. The NCAA didn’t give us much trouble as long as we didn’t shave points or make a public spectacle.

    Bob Knight is obviously a spiteful, arrogant, and mean person. There are plenty of videos to prove that. ESPN made a movie about him that clearly shows how abominable the man is. If you look behind his ear, you will see the 666 mark. I’ve seen it. I think he changed his name from Damien to Robert.

    Bob had no intention of proving anything about Calipari. He only wants to draw attention to himself. These types of actions, the arrogance, and the outrageous behavior are all manifestations of someone with low self-esteem. He knows deep down that he is a lower form of life because the guilt of all the cheerleaders he raped and players he abused has been weighing heavily on his heart for decades.

    For my 100th birthday present, I would ask that someone would take Robert out behind the woodshed and give him the whipping he deserves. Please send me the video in an unmarked envelope.

  21. Kyle Brown says:

    Bob Knight needs to produce one of two things: the evidence behind his statements, or an apology to Calipari.

  22. DMoore says:

    Mixed thoughts on this one. The point about how today’s environment is actually cleaner than in the past is dead on. No money has fallen out of FedEx envelopes lately. Haven’t had a good points shaving scandal in quite a few years.

    On the other hand, you’re right that Calipari has never been found guilty of any wrong doing, but there is a pattern here, and in the past the pattern itself would have had consequences. Knight’s point implied that in the past, a coach that had two different teams hit with significant penalties would not have been promoted to coaching one of the most elite programs in the country. In recent years, we see Calipari moving up to Kentucky, and Sampson moving up to Indiana. I don’t think Knight was going to directly point the finger at Sampson while on Indiana’s campus, but the Indiana alums he was speaking know that the exact equivalent had just hit them and had seriously damaged their program.

    I’m very surprised that no one has mentioned this, because for the Indiana audience the parallel would have instantly sprung to mind. It’s Knight finding new and innovative ways to take one more jab at Indiana’s administration.

  23. Bill C says:

    Coach Cal is being accused of wrong doing at both UMASS and at Memphis. I don’t understand why is being accussed of anything in either case. Marcus Camby had contact and signed with an agent while playing at UMASS, thus resulting in UMASS vacating its final four status. Jim McDaniels back in the 1970’s did the same thing at Western Kentucky. I don’t remember anyone blaming the coach at Western Kentucky for this. People blamed McDaniels for breaking the rules. Why is Coach Cal being blamed for what Camby did. I can’t believe any coach would support his player signing with an agent. Any coach would have known the team’s victories would be forfeited if the NCAA became aware the player had signed with an agent. The case that Coach Cal knew about this is rediculous.

    Now the case at Memphis. It seems to me that the NCAA cleared the player to play so why wouldn’t any college coach play the player? The NCAA was at fault for clearing the player in the first place. Once they cleared the player any coach including Bob Knight would have played the player. I would have! The NCAA waits until after the season to declare the player ineligible. The NCAA was at faught, not Coach Cal.

    I closing, I don’t care where Cal is coaching these two issues does not implicate Cal to any wrong doing and that’s the way I see it.

    Also, is Indiana no longer one of the big boys? I thought the NCAA layed a pretty big hit on Samson and I always thought Indiana was one of the premier program. I guess not after reading Brian’s comments.

  24. Dan Simon says:

    My thought- where is knight’s PROOF? Speaking of proof most of us have probably seen the video of when knight had his hands on Neil Reed’s throat- of when he threw the chair across assembly hall- his boorish attempt to phycially intimidate ted valentine, also in assembly. Search your memory of knight’s boorish and bully behavior and you remember several incidents of proof.

  25. Grezelda says:

    John Wooden…now there’s a study in double standards. His program was about as dirty as they get but he let the assistants do the dirty work and just didn’t look. For his ignorance, he gets statues, an award named for him and nothing but love from the sports talking heads.
    You want rumors…plenty of “rumors” about Wooden…there’s your smoke Brian. But Wooden is a god and Calipari is a villain. They never pinned anything on Wooden and they haven’t pinned anything on Calipari. What’s the difference????
    I can’t imagine Knight didn’t mention how UCLA got all those great teams back in the “golden days” when everyone played fair.
    Knight’s memory is flawed…like his personality.

  26. Murfreesboro says:

    The bottom line question I want to ask is – how could anyone give any credibility to anything Bobby Knight says? I will give him credit for being a very good coach – he won 3 NCAA crowns – so he must have been. But, his personal and professional actions of the last 35 years have destroyed any credibility he ever had. He is an out of control individual – and, again, how could anyone with common sense listen to him? I would like for someone truthfully to answer why he should be given any attention at all.

  27. don buddin says:

    Isn’t anyone going to mention Knight’s long-time assistants Norm Ellenberger or Tates Lock. I don’t feel like listing all their transgressios here, including, I think, felony convictions, but after they were found guilty of things like grade forging, etc. Knight took them both on as assistants and Ellenberger–the worst of the two–was even the head coach when Knight served a suspension for tryting to kill a player or whatever. Really, look up these guys. Knight is unbelievable, a man without shame is a dangerous man.

  28. Um… regardless of the facts, there’s always been a cloud of suspicion surrounding Calipari and his programs. Those banners have been taken down.

    It took a voice like Knight’s to criticize Calipari. Pretty heavy stuff. You can’t tell me, despite Calipari’s early success, that any Wildcat fan would be surprised if something ended up happening with the program.

    And that would likely be the end of Coach Cal.

    Love your site and your takes. I’d be interested in exchanging blogrolls if you’re so inclined.

    Here’s my take on the Christmas cheer spread between the two embattled coaches.

  29. Dave says:

    You’re missing something in the “correlation doesn’t imply causation argument.” You’re right that the fact that Calipari run programs end up on probation doesn’t imply that he causes them to go on probation. However, if this were a research article on this topic the title would be “Calipari-run programs are likely to end up on probation.”

    One thing can be said for sure though: Calipari has been in charge of programs where cheating has taken place. His reward is being the highest paid basketball coach in the history of college basketball.

  30. webethinkin says:

    You folks are on drugs. Knight is right on…what is Calipari’s graduation rate by the way? Does he really care about the lives of his athletes? WHy is he always moving around? It’s a shame that Knight has to blow the whistle on guys like this. The press should be doing it, but you are sleeping on the job and in denial. What a pity.

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