Posted by MATT JONES
I am truly amazed at the reaction caused by John Calipari’s F-bomb-laden tirade aimed at his freshman star Terrence Jones on Tuesday night. For those of you that missed it, as Kentucky attempted a late comeback on the road against Alabama, Calipari reacted to a blown UK possession by calling Jones over to him and saying (or at least seeming to say if you are a lip reader) to Jones that he was a “selfish mother-f*****.” Jones seemed to shrug off the comments as UK made a late run before ultimately falling 68-66 to the Tide.
Immediately however the reaction poured in around the Big Blue Nation. UK message boards and blogs lit up with fans embarrassed at Calipari’s comments and some expressed shock that their beloved coach would ever say such a thing on national television. Perhaps sensing the impending blowup (because in the mega-spotlight that is UK basketball, every story is a big story), Calipari tweeted out an apology and asked forgiveness from the UK faithful.
While I can understand the sentiments behind Calipari’s apology, I must admit that I don’t understand what all the fuss is truly about. One can surely criticize the coach for using bad discretion and choosing to curse so openly in a game where all of his actions will be picked up by a national television audience. But for those that are shocked that he would say such a comment to a player, I have but one little dirty secret to impart. Not only is Calipari’s comment not shocking to me, it is actually rather commonplace, and dare I say, mundane for the world of college basketball.
You, oh naïve college basketball fan, may not realize this, but nearly every great coach in America also uses bad language to such a degree that their practices or locker room speeches would receive an “R” rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. Spend any amount of time around the teams when Jim Calhoun, Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan, Rick Pitino, etc are coaching and you will be inundated with cursing to such a degree that it would cause Daniel Tosh to blush. Cursing and coaching go hand in hand, from the high school to the professional level, and it is so commonplace that one would almost think it was taught (along with the art of building up your next opponent in the press to downplay expectations) in head coach training schools.
Almost no one is immune. In fact, if I were to rate the most outlandish cursing coach in America, It would also be the one most often celebrated as the best coach in college basketball, Mike Krzyzewski. For three years, I sat in the graduate student section of Cameron Indoor and heard Coach K spew out more expletives than you would get via a weekend voyage on the U.S.S Nimitz. His mouth was legendary and the bile that came from it was aimed equally at his players and the referees he slowly intimidated during the course of a game. If the F.C.C could regulate the words of coaches, Coach K would be its Bubba the Love Sponge.
If you are offended by the words of Calipari or any other coach in college basketball (don’t even get me started on the mouths of college football coaches), then maybe it’s time you start following some other pastime. College basketball coaches are foul-mouthed Neanderthals who believe the best way to express a complicated thought is through yelling four-letter words at the top of their lungs. Yes it’s stupid and yes it’s demeaning. But it’s also the culture of athletics and in that world, Calipari’s comments on Tuesday night are far from abnormal.