Calipari’s Comment: Dig Or Not?

Posted by jstevrtc on August 4th, 2011

Earlier today, John Calipari was reported to have made the following comment on a Memphis radio show:

Police each other, give it to league commissioners and schools to deal with. If it goes beyond that, there’s a board there that’s ready to deal with it. (…) You’ve got coaches being fired over phone calls and text messages. Some. Other guys can make phone calls and it’s not that big a deal.

Now, we admit we didn’t hear the interview, let alone the segment that produced the above quote. We heard it first in the audio that’s embedded in the original story at CBS’ college basketball blog. We can’t tell you what the interviewer asked Calipari that prompted that answer. The audio also has the rest of Calipari’s response (there’s a little bit more after the quoted section), which is more on how he’d change how college basketball is policed. Taken by itself, the quote above could easily be construed as a little jab at Mike Krzyzewski, given the alleged minor violation Coach K may have committed during the July recruiting period wherein he supposedly communicated with a recruit and shouldn’t have. That’s a typical reaction, since that incident is fresh in the collective hoophead mind.

Even If It Was a Jab, What's More Important Is...Was What He Said True?

If you listen to the rest of the audio, however, in the full context it sounds like Calipari is referring to a larger problem in the profession — wouldn’t it be a safe assumption that if the world knows about Krzyzewski’s possible mistake that John Calipari knows other coaches who have done the same thing but haven’t been fired for it? — as opposed to intentionally getting in a dig against one guy. At worst, if it’s a dig, it’s an unintentional one. We’re not saying Calipari or any coach is above such a thing, but frankly it just doesn’t sound like he’s trying to zing one person when you listen to the available audio.

Here’s another question we’ll put to you, provided you remove your opinions of John Calipari and Mike Krzyzewski as you consider it: the part about how some guys can get away with things like “illegal” phone calls and texts — is that factually true or not? Our experience is that, yes, in the world of college basketball coaching and life in general, there are some people who are allowed to get away with things, there are people who just seem to walk between the raindrops. That doesn’t mean it’s right, but that’s the way it is, and if you disagree you need to get out more. Sure, a level playing field is the ideal, but it’s often an impossible one. It sounds to us like Calipari’s comment simply brings up the fact that some people get away with things — in this case, phone calls and text messages — while others don’t. We asked the aforementioned question as one of our informal Twitter polls earlier today, and while most responders (we appreciate every one of them, it should be noted) wanted to give their opinions on those two coaches, those who actually answered the question felt that what Calipari said was, in fact, a true statement.

We understand that the idea of John Calipari getting on a horse of even the most minimal height about other people committing NCAA infractions and getting away with things jangles the nerves of many of our readers. We understand, and we agree; where the direct evidence is absent the circumstantial evidence is potent. All we’re saying here, though, is that before you decide whether or not you think John Calipari was taking a little poke at Coach K, click the link above and listen to the audio sample, then decide for yourself. Don’t just read the second half of the above segment — which is how it’s being reported in many other places, actually — and make your decision. Our stance is that if it was an intentional dig, it’s a playful one and also happens to be a true statement…but it probably wasn’t even intentional. After you’ve heard the audio, though, come back and tell us what you think.

jstevrtc (547 Posts)

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4 responses to “Calipari’s Comment: Dig Or Not?”

  1. WakeFan says:

    Find me a coach who was fired because of a phone call or text message violation.

  2. Matt says:

    @WakeFan: Seconded. It’s still a secondary violation. Have to lie about it to NCAA or offend the rule liberally to even be looking at the COI.

    I think it should also be noted that Calipari has a reputation of being thin-skinned and taking things personally. Since I’m not aware of any feud between Kryzewski and Calipari, I think this was a jab more aimed at the media who portrayed K as the patron saint of college basketball and Cal as the villain.

    Then again, it could’ve been just another time a coach got going in an interview and just didn’t word a response thoughtfully.

  3. jstevrtc says:

    Well, not _A_ phone call or text message, but I think Kelvin Sampson certainly qualifies as a man who got himself and his school(s) in a LOT of trouble (Sampson’s on a show-cause until 2013) because of violating rules regarding phone calls and text messages. You probably anticipated that response, so I’m interested to hear your take.

    As a general note on the post, I don’t get why people are not clicking on the link with the original audio. No matter how they decide, I wish they’d do that before making a decision on the matter.

    John S. from RTC

  4. Andrew says:

    I would say it wasn’t the calls and text messages that got Sampson in trouble, but the lying about the phone calls and text messages, and then continuing to violate the rules about phone calls and text messages while already on probation after having been caught lying about the phone calls and text messages. And throw in a little more lying about those additional phone calls and text messages.

    If Sampson had just been caught at OU making the original impermissible phone calls and text messages and hadn’t tried to cover his tracks with lies, he would have got off with a slap on the wrist and it would have been forgotten a couple days later.

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