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By LARRY VAUGHT
It seems like there is never a dull today when it comes to Kentucky basketball, but CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman really infuriated many UK fans Thursday during a radio interview in Louisville with Rick Bozich and Eric Crawford when he suggested that UK coach John Calipari tried to get him fired earlier in his career.
This is a big-time accusation, and one Goodman certainly has to totally believe to have discussed with Bozich and Crawford, two respected journalists. Maybe other national media members have felt that way at times, but if one has ever openly said it quite that way I don’t remember it.
Kentucky fans obviously lashed out at Goodman, especially on Twitter.
He tried to post various Tweets to calm the storm:
— I have said it’s more difficult to be objective when someone tries to get you fired, but i have found way to do so regardless
— I am not a huge fan of him on personal level, but think he is one hell of a coach – and has done phenomenal job at UK.
— I never said I was biased against Calipari. Again, we don’t have personal relationship, but i have respect for him as coach.
So what do you think. Can Goodman be unbiased when it comes to Kentucky and Calipari? Should he stop writing UK/Calipari stories? Or is there nothing wrong with his comments about Calipari?
By LARRY VAUGHT
Sometimes John Calipari takes a few playful jabs at national media members and the perceived lack of respect they have for the Kentucky basketball program.
He did so when he noted that the â€œtalking headsâ€ were picking UKâ€ˆto lose at Vanderbilt Saturday and he did so again Tuesday on a radio show when he admitted that Anthony Davis might not be national player of the year because some media members would not vote for him simply because he played at Kentucky.
Iâ€™m not sure thatâ€™s true, but it certainly could come into play for the national coach of the year voting based on the thinking of CBSSports.comâ€™s Jeff Goodman. He posted on Twitter Tuesday that his top eight candidates for national coach of the year would be Mike Brey of Notre Dame, Tom Crean of Indiana, Frank Haith of Missouri, Tom Izzo of Michigan State, Bill Self of Kansas, John Thompson IIIâ€ˆof Georgetown, Steve Fisher of San Diego State and Dave Rice Nevada-Las Vegas.
Certainly itâ€™s easy to make cases for Haith or Izzo to be among the top candidates. However,â€ˆI donâ€™t see how anyone could list all those other coaches and not have Kentuckyâ€™s John Calipari â€” or even Syracuseâ€™s Jim Boeheim â€” on a short list to consider as well.
Kentucky is 25-1, ranked No. 1 and riding the nationâ€™s longest win streak. Many analysts now consider Kentucky the clear favorite to win the national championship.
Calipari has done this despite losing three players off last yearâ€™s team to the NBA draft and having four freshmen among his top seven players. Granted, they are talented freshmen, but doesnâ€™t recruiting talented players factor into a coaching equation? Goodman said no on Twitter after he said â€œno whiningâ€ to Kentucky fans in much the same sanctimonious manner that Digger Phelps lectured UK fans at ESPN Game Day at Vanderbilt.
â€œCats expected to do something like this. Others overachieved,â€ Goodman tweeted. â€œCalipari and Boeheim would both be No. 9 and No. 10 if I were to extend the list to 10. But my list is eight, so they do not make the cut.â€
Do not make the cut?
Kentucky fans were not amused with Goodmanâ€™s logic. Here are a few of the early Twitter responses Goodman got:
â€” Since when did COY become who can do the most with the least? Cal can coach and recruit so isn’t considered?
â€” Too many simply do not give Cal credit for getting a group of all-Americans to buy into the team concept and play D. Not easy.
â€” Maybe we should rename the award ‘overachiever of the year.’
â€” Cal just rolls the ball out there, remember?
If Kentucky goes unbeaten in Southeastern Conference play and reaches the Final Four with a freshman dominated team, how could Calipari not be on anyoneâ€™s top eight list for coach of the year? Doesnâ€™t mean he has to win, but not considering him shows someone either doesnâ€™t understand basketball or does have a grudge against Calipari and/or Kentucky. Same for Boeheim. Donâ€™t punish coaches because they recruited well, had a team that was expected to do well and then did well.
Actually, if I was ranking a top 10 today, I might even have to put Louisvilleâ€™s Rick Pitino in there. Factor in the injuries his team has had, the beatdown the Cardinals took at Providence and the way they have bounced back, I would have to believe his team is overachieving. According to Goodmanâ€™s logic, that has to put him on short lists for coach of the year.
Recently I asked ESPNâ€™s Dick Vitale what kind of job he thought Calipari had done this year with this team.
â€œUnbelievable. He recruited great talent and has them playing like a team, just like he always does. Heâ€™s put new players together and got them to play great defense and great team basketball,â€ Vitale said. â€œCoaching chemistry is an art, too. You donâ€™t get credit for it, but his teams have great chemistry and I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s an accident.â€
Neither do I and thatâ€™s why no matter what one national â€œtalking headâ€ might say or tweet, at this point Calipari has to be on the short list for any national coach of the year award