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Calipari/Pitino Rivalry Blazes Hot in the Offseason

Coach John Calipari (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Coach Rick Pitino (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

For big college basketball fans like myself, the May-September offseason is the equivalent of Interstate 40 between Nashville and Memphis–it never seems to end. Thank God that in the doldrums of June, University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari and University of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino have seen fit to fire shots–albeit subtle ones–across each other’s bows.  Thank you Coach Cal for making a seemingly harmless dig at the Big East Conference earlier this year. If you hadn’t done that, then Coach Pitino wouldn’t have taken a recent opportunity to mildly deride the Southeastern Conference. So, thank you, too, Coach Pitino. First, here’s a primer for those just joining us: Louisville is in the Big East; Kentucky is in the SEC. See, Cal and Pitino will never go right at each other. That’s just far too undignified for a couple of guys who make quite certain that dignity is maintained in all facets of their lives. Nor will the coaches ever openly criticize either’s program. Coach Cal loves the game of basketball and has the utmost respect for its PROGRAMS. And Coach Pitino has a great love for Kentucky and always will; he won his only National Championship there. But each can make comments about the other’s league. It’s ingenious, really. It’s another way these two very intelligent men can maintain decorum AND their mutual dislike of each other. It will also fan the flames of a rivalry that is already one of the most heated in college sports. I think it’s terrific. I support both teams. I like both coaches. I like rivalries. So thank you, gentlemen. You’ve immeasurably softened the blow of a long offseason.

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