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Coach Cal: ‘I Want to Create Experiences, Not Just Games’

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Okay, enough already! And I’m talking to and about myself just as much as anyone who has written about the dissolution of the Kentucky/Indiana basketball series. The topic has been comprehensively covered, ad nauseum.  Time to move on.

And “moving on” is exactly what UK head coach John Calipari is all about. I think it might even be in his genes. Any accusations leveled at Coach Cal and Kentucky about the end of this rivalry and “what it all means” seem, more and more each day, to be nitpicking, pure and simple.

I think a great majority, if not all, of UK’s fanbase would agree that the numero uno rivalry that must not be touched is the one with Louisville. And that ain’t goin’ anywhere. That is Big Blue Nation’s sacred cow.

Another rivalry–the one with North Carolina–isn’t being abandoned either. Cal (and UNC coach Roy Williams, for that matter)  just wants a one-season break so that when Carolina returns to the schedule, it will be a road game during the same season that Louisville is a home game, and vice versa the following year, and so on.

Plus, playing North Carolina in Chapel Hill isn’t exactly “dodging” road games, as some have alleged with the dropping of the Indiana game.

Far from it.

Coach Cal’s long term plan for the university is to include one big non-conference road game and one big non-conference home game each season to prepare the ‘Cats for the now 18-game conference grind.

He also plans to set up series in which UK will play big-name opponents in football stadiums to get the team ready for post-season play. The next two seasons will feature such matchups.

This November, Kentucky will play Duke in the Champions Classic in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome, the site of the 2013 Final Four. In the fall of ’13, UK will play its 2012 Elite Eight opponent, Baylor, in Cowboy Stadium in Dallas, the site of the 2014 Final Four. That’s a return game, as Kentucky will host the Bears next season in Rupp Arena.

Coach Cal is also working with Coach Mike Krzyzewski to put the finishing touches on a multi-year series with Duke, to be played in big-name neutral venues around the country. Cal is also working on an event to be held in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

John Calipari was never able to get the kinds of things done at Massachusetts and Memphis that he can get done at Kentucky. He now has the biggest horse in the stable, and he plans to run with it.

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