Is Kentucky a basketball school? Yes. Should John Calipari have said that? Probably not.
The Wildcats basketball coach ignited the rare intra-athletic department war of word with football coach Mark Stoops earlier this week when he took an unusual route to explain why his program deserves a new multi-million-dollar practice facility.
“And the reason is, this is a basketball school. It’s always been that,” he said. “Alabama is a football school. So is Georgia. I mean, they are. No disrespect to our football team. I hope they win 10 games and go to bowls. At the end of the day, that makes my job easier and it makes the job of all of us easier. But this is a basketball school. And so we need to keep moving in that direction and keep doing what we’re doing.”
Those words probably aren’t going to sit well if you are the person in charge of the football program, and Stoops confirmed that to be in the case via Twitter.
Stoops opted to imply that basketball schools simply don’t exist in the football-crazed SEC, even when one school’s basketball program is the NCAA all-time leader in NCAA tournament appearances and second all-time in wins, plus eight national championships, 17 Final Fours and 33 SEC Tournament championships.
Because, you see, Kentucky football has four straight bowl game wins.
Stoops doubled down on his position on Saturday, basically playing the “he started it” card with Calipari.
From The Athletic:
“I don’t care about anyone’s program, I stay in my lane,” Stoops said after football practice Saturday. “But when you start talking about mine, and the people I compete against, I’m going to defend my players. … Don’t demean and distract from what we’ve done to get to this point.”
It wasn’t long before Calipari responded by trying to put the matter to bed.
It’s never great when the two most visible employees of an athletic department are taking shots at each other, but Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart blamed the media for “creating” the feud.
We’ll see if any more barbs are thrown out.