ATHENS — John Calipari got fired up. First he defended one fellow coach named Mark, then wound his way around to another one. Along the way he dropped a profanity, and he wrapped up by channeling Donald Trump.
Kentucky had just eked out a five-point win at Georgia, which lost its best player Yante Maten just 95 seconds into the game with a knee injury. Calipari, like many, was amazed it ended up still being close, and he credited his Georgia counterpart, Mark Fox.
“He keeps his team together. That’s coaching. Not when things are going good,” he said. “They do this without Maten. That’s what kind of coach Mark Fox is.”
Among those listening to this in the press conference audience was Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity. He was sitting in one of the back rows, as he occasionally does in postgame press conferences.
Calipari, as it turned out, was just getting started.
“What Mark has been able to do here, and other coaches — he goes to Florida, overtime, and should have won the game,” Calipari said. “He comes to us, overtime — they should have won the game. I mean, we were lucky to win. Loses at Texas A&M because the clock stalled.”
Calipari’s voice rose particularly at this point.
“The clock stalled and that’s why he loses the game. He keeps his team together and that’s coaching. Not when things are going good. It’s when things go south and you lose a bunch in a row and how do you get them and go?” he said. “He goes to Tennessee down (14) and goes and wins the game. They had Florida beat with 30 seconds left, then they come in and do this to us without Maten. That’s what kind of coach Mark Fox is.”
It was at this point that Calipari brought up Mark Gottfried, the soon-to-be-former NC State coach, who this past week was relieved of his duties, effective the end of the season.
And Calipari, either to illustrate his point or forgetting he was in a public venue, went the profanity route.
“We’re firing coaches in midseason. Are you (bad word starting with s) me?” Calipari said. “We’re firing coaches in midseason. You know I’m putting in my contract? You can fire me at midseason, but you’re gonna have to pay me $3 million. Oh, you’ll let me stay now, won’t you? There’s a new one that’s going to be in the contract, DeWayne (Peevy, deputy AD at UK). You can fire me midseason, but you’re paying me. Why would I even have to think of that? Now every coach in the country: Put it in your contract!”
Calipari finished his rant. And before another question came he looked down and smiled.
“Fake media!” he said. “Just kidding.”