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Posted on: June 14, 2010 11:21 am
 

Gil Espy-Cal's Recruiting Prowess No Surprise

Calipari's Recruiting Prowess No Surprise to Former Classmate

June 11, 2010
Gil Espy, The College Basketball Enquirer

PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- When it comes to the ultra competitive world of college hoops recruiting, the extraordinary success that Kentucky coach John Calipari has enjoyed, particularly during his brief time in Lexington, certainly shouldn't come as a surprise, this according to a former grade school classmate of Calipari's.

"If you knew Cal back then, you'd know why he became such an amazing recruiter," said Benny Fitzgerald, who attended elementary school with Calipari during the sixties in the Pittsburgh suburb of Moon Township, Pennsylvania.  "Even back then, as a kid, Johnny had an eye for talent...and he hated to lose."

According to Fitzgerald, perhaps the first ever glimpse into Calipari's cut throat approach to recruiting was seen after school on a Moon Township baseball diamond.  "We were in the second grade, and Johnny, as usual, was one of the captains," said Fitzgerald.  "He knew the best baseball player was this kid whose family had defected to Pennsylvania from Cuba, so he showed the kid a fake letter from Fidel Castro saying that the kid and his family would be deported if he didn't play for Johnny's team.  He even forged Castro's name on the letter.  Needless to say, the kid decided right then and there to play on Johnny's team."

It was once Calipari became passionate about the game of basketball, however, that the youngster's skills as a recruiter really began to take shape.  "Moon Township didn't have very many good basketball players.  All the best players were kids who were bused in from Pittsburgh," said Fitzgerald.  "So during lunch, Johnny would bribe all of the good players with cookies, chips, candy, phony Roberto Clemente autographs...anything to get them to stick around after class to play for his team.  He even brought me in to assist him once our school started having two lunch periods." 

"I was handing out so many treats at lunch, the kids came up with a nickname for me," said Fitzgerald.  "They called me 'Extra' Benny Fitz."

It was Calipari's cold blooded devotion to "winning at all costs," according to Fitzgerald, that ultimately ended their partnership, as well as their friendship.  "Johnny ended up doing the same thing to me that he did, years later, to that Matt Pilgrim kid," said Fitzgerald.  "A better player came along, so Johnny gave him my spot.  The ironic part was that it was a kid that I, myself, had recruited."

"I gave the guy two packs of Necco Wafers and a Willie Stargell rookie card, and Johnny goes and gives him my spot," recalled Fitzgerald.  "I never forgave that snake in the grass for that."

Calipari, whose 2010 recruiting class was recently rated by Rivals.com as the nation's top ranked class, was unavailable for comment.  

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 20, 2009 12:25 pm
 

Head Coach of The College Slams Calipari-Gil Espy

Head Coach of The College Slams 'Cats Calipari

Gil Espy, The College Basketball Enquirer

Bobby Knight isn't the only legendary college basketball coach taking shots at Kentucky head man John Calipari these days.  On Thursday night, during a charity dinner at the Outback Steakhouse in Mason, Ohio, The College's longtime head coach, Orson Welles, landed a few shots of his own.  "We've got us a lot of Kentucky basketball fans in this area, folks who became Wildcat fans because of UK's unparalled tradition," said Welles at an event benefiting beaver attack victims in Warren County.  "But when it comes to their new coach, that Calipari character, the only tradition he should be known for is a tradition of shady test scores, one and done non-student athletes, and vacated Final Fours."

Welles, who has won 596 games in his 26 years as The College's coach, including a 6-2 mark this season, continued his rant on Calipari during dinner.  "Calling Calipari a snake in the grass is an insult to snakes...and grass," said Welles, whose "Peach Basket" style offense, known for its backdoor cuts and two handed bounce passes, is in sharp contrast to Calipari's vaunted "Dribble Drive Motion" offense.  According to Welles, Calipari's success is based less on coaching, and more on talent.  "Calipari couldn't coach his way out of a brown paper bag," said Welles.  "Give him Jason Wells instead of John Wall and we'll just see if he's still 10-0."

Welles' star player at The College, Jason Wells, who also attended Thursday night's event and is a noted Kentucky and Calipari supporter, was disappointed in his coach's comments.  "Look like Coach Welles is jealous hater too," said Wells, whose #35 uniform will be retired before Saturday night's game against the Academy of Art.  "His request to speak at my jersey retirement ceremony has been rejected!"
     
John Calipari, whose unbeaten Wildcats take on Austin Peay on Saturday, was unavailable for comment.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Gil Espy
 
Posted on: October 13, 2009 5:26 pm
 

Stu Dent, Big Blue Madness Sells Out

Big Blue Madness Sells Out, Thousands Turned Away

by Stu Dent, The College Basketball Enquirer

Tickets for Big Blue Madness, the University of Kentucky's wildly anticipated, first formal team practice of the upcoming basketball season, were claimed in an astonishing 45 minutes this past week.  However, despite the overwhelming excitement surrounding the team, and its first year head coach John Calipari, some fans are upset that they won't be able to witness the public unveiling of Coach Cal's new look 'Cats.  "This sucks!" said Jay Broni, a grocery store clerk from nearby Glasgow, Kentucky.  "I freakin' skipped work to get tickets to this thing.  Now all I'm gettin' is sixty-four dollars less in my paycheck."

Winifred Collins, 82, a self professed "lifelong 'Cats fanatic," claims she was tricked out of receiving her free ticket for the October 16th event by a fellow UK fan.  "A young man in a Kentucky shirt approached me in line and directed me to another, shorter line.  He said it was the line for senior citizens." said Collins.  "As it turns out, it was just the line to the bathroom.  By the time I found my way back to the line, they said the tickets were all gone."

According to some observers, a number of Wildcats fans were so distraught at not receiving a ticket to Big Blue Madness, they refused to leave Memorial Coliseum, where the tickets were being distributed.  "My friend told me that one dude stayed there all night." said Ronnie Dowell, who was among the first to claim his tickets early Saturday morning.  "My buddy said he was drinking from a flask, and he kept screaming 'I ain't leaving 'til somebody gives me a ticket!  I ain't leaving 'til somebody gives me a ticket!'  Eventually security had to carry him away, I guess."

Big Blue Madness, which will be held for just the fifth time at Rupp Arena, will begin at 7:30 PM this Friday night.  Fans will be allowed to enter Rupp Arena at 6:00 PM.    
 





















(CBE) UK fan Jimmy Dent is forceably removed
from the premises of Memorial Coliseum. 

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Stu Dent
 
Posted on: October 8, 2009 3:47 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 3:00 pm
 
Category: NFL
Posted on: September 3, 2009 10:05 am
 

Irv N. Michaels-Loyalty to Favre Divides Family

Son's Loyalty to Favre Divides Wisconsin Family

by Irv N. Michaels, The Pigskin Weekly Journal 

For as long as Mort Gunderson can remember, he's been a Green Bay Packers fan.  "Being a Packer backer is in my family's blood, just like ice fishing, aged cheese, and the family business." said Gunderson, a third generation manure salesman from Kaukauna, Wisconsin.  "It's who we Gunderson's are.  All of us 'cept my boy."

Gunderson's "boy," 19-year old Scottie Gunderson, no longer considers himself a Packers fan.  His loyalty, he claims, belongs instead to his boyhood idol.  "I support Brett Favre, and so I support the Minnesota Vikings." said the younger Gunderson.  "And if my family can't accept that, well then I just don't know what to tell 'em."  This stance, according to Scottie's mother Jinny Gunderson, is completely unacceptable.  "First off, no son of mine is going to wear purple.  It's fruity.  So there's that." said the 44-year old mother of six.  "But rooting for that team with that Judas as their quarterback?  Why that'll getcha kicked right out of the Gunderson home, you know!"

So venomous, in fact, is the Gunderson's disdain for Favre, and for the former Packer star's new team, they recently fired their son from his job as a warehouse worker at the family's manure store.  "I was a Warehouse Technician there, and they fired me." said Scottie.  "They got rid of their own son just because I root for Brett and the Vikes."  Jinny, the Accounts Receivables Manager at Son of a Gunderson's Manure & Soil, does not deny her son's claim.  "Your darn tootin' we fired him!  When you wear a Vikings number 4 jersey to our store, you can doggone bet your bottom dollar you're gettin' the boot.  And let's be clear.  The boy lifted manure to and from the shelves!  He wasn't a gosh darned technician!"

Mort Gunderson, though he understands his son's admiration of Favre while he was the quarterback of the Packers, cannot relate to his son's current state of mind.  "Scottie grew up watching Favre with the Pack, so I can see how he came to respect and admire the man.  I just don't think my son fully understands the evil that is today's Favre." said the elder Gunderson.  "I mean did you see that crackback he threw on that Wilson kid from the Texans?  Satan himself, vile, purple blood coursing through his veins, couldn't have thrown a dirtier block." 

Both the Vikings and the Packers open their regular season schedules on Sunday, September the 13th.  The teams first head-to-head meeting is on Monday night, October the 5th, at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.  Jinny Gunderson says that her son has been warned about showing up to the family's home that night in Viking purple.  "Purple is just a combination of black and blue, you know?  If he wants his body to match that lame jersey of his, he'll show up to my front door wearing it."

Category: NFL
Posted on: August 26, 2009 10:17 am
 

Gil Espy Archives-Criticism of Calipari Draws Ire

Criticism of Calipari Draws Ire of Popular UK Fan

by Gil Espy, The College Basketball Enquirer

Former Memphis basketball coach John Calipari has come under fire this week for his alleged involvement in a scandal that has forced the Tigers program to forfeit 38 victories and their 2008 Final Four appearance.  The internet's most prominent fan of Calipari's new team, for one, does not believe that the overwhelming criticism of the new Kentucky head man is warranted.

"Seems like Kentucky getting attack by the haters over Memphis screwing up a everyone wants Calipari out as the head coach at Kentucky." said Jason Wells, longtime Wildcats fan and arguably the most popular message board poster on cbssports.com.  "To the Calipari and Kentucky haters you're just pissed because Kentucky is back."

This week's ruling by the NCAA, which essentially erases the Tigers 2007-08 season from the record books, involves alleged inpropieties involving the SAT score of then incoming freshman Derrick Rose.  As far as Wells is concerned, neither Calipari nor the University of Kentucky bare any responsibility for what took place at Memphis.  "Why Kentucky should be punished Kentucky didn't do nothing wrong?" asked Wells.  "Everyone wants to point at Calipari because they are all pissed because he went to Kentucky."

Wells, himself a star basketball player at The College in Ohio, would simply prefer that Calipari's critics remain silent.  "Fans started trash talking about John Calipari like a old saying my dad told me what goes around comes around." said Wells.  "JDubs 3:16 says that the bottom line 'cause JDubs said so."

Kentucky opens their 2009-10 campaign on November 13 at home versus Morehead State.  Wells says he looks forward to what he expects will be a challenging non-conference schedule for the 'Cats.  "This year schedule is way better than last year's one." said Wells.  "Bump2."

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Gil Espy
 
Posted on: August 18, 2009 11:56 pm
 

Al Bano-Pro Wrestlers Encouraged by Lesnar

Pro Wrestlers Encouraged by Lesnar's MMA Success

by Al Bano, The Ringside Enquirer

Brock Lesnar, the former pro wrestling champ who has fast established himself as the UFC's most controversial, most marketable, new star, might soon find himself recognized as the spearhead of a new trend in mixed martial arts, that trend being the influx of professional wrestlers entering the sport.

"Let me tell you something, brother, Great White is ready to take a great, big bite out of MMA, brother!" said Angus McCallister, aka Great White, a veteran performer for Power Pro Wrestling, an independent promotion based in the Pacific Northwest.  "What Brock showed the world, brother, is that pro wrestlers are some of the best athletes on the planet, brother! said McCallsiter.  "There's no doubt in my mind, brother, that I would step right into that Octagon and turn it into my own personal shark tank, brother!"

"Hip Hop" Bobby Brown, another veteran star of the independent wrestling circuit, says the skills possessed by professional wrestlers would translate well into the world of mixed martial arts.  "I'm gonna tell you right here, right now, baby, that no one in mixed martial arts would be able to deal with what I'd be bringin' to the party, baby!" said Brown.  "One second a dude's goin' for a takedown, the next second he's chewin' on a flyin' dropkick, baby!  I mean half of them moves they do wouldn't even work on me, baby, 'cause I'm fleet, I'm sweet, and I'm light on my feet, ahhhhh yeah."

When asked about the possibility of more performers from the scripted world of pro wrestling entering the very real world of mixed martial arts, MMA writer Jason Patterson expressed doubt.  "Bobby Lashley has started to make some waves in his MMA career, but like Lesnar, he too has a fairly accomplished background in amateur wrestling." stated Patterson.  "Most of these other pro wrestlers, however, who are considering making the move to mixed martial arts, would probably be best advised to seriously reconsider." 

Opinions such as these, according to Great White McCallister, will only serve to motivate wrestlers to give MMA a try.  "These punks who write that kind of crap don't know what they're talking about, brother!" said McCallister.  "I'd like to get that little pencil neck geek in the cage, brother, and show him just how deadly a shark attack can be, brother!"  

UFC President Dana White, who signed Lesnar back in 2007, reportedly was in meetings with Anhueser-Busch and was unavailable for comment.

Category: Mixed Martial Arts
Tags: Al Bano
 
Posted on: August 18, 2009 5:58 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 12:54 pm
 

Gil Espy Archives-Cal's Coming to Lexington

Cal's Steakhouse Coming to Lexington, Changes Underway

by Gil Espy,  The College Basketball Enquirer

LEXINGTON -- Cal's Championship Steakhouse is coming to Lexington, but not everyone is celebrating. 

Several employees at The Thoroughbred, a struggling midtown eatery, have been informed that they will be losing their jobs once their restaurant is converted into a Cal's come September. 

"I've been working at The Thoroughbred for nearly five years." said waitress Joy Guillory, a 26-year old mother of two.  "I told the new management, when they met with us a few days ago, that I really wanted to work at Cal's, but they said they wanted to bring in their own people.  They said they were sorry, but there just wasn't going to be enough room."

Another waitress, Martha Pinkston, was also told that she would not be retained, this despite her upcoming return from maternity leave.  "I've been out for a while, waiting to have my baby, but I was definitely ready to get back in there." said Pinkston.  "I just think it's really unfair that I've been sitting out all this time, and now they tell me I can't come back." 

According to restaurant manager Orlando Johnson, several former employees from Cal's Championship Steakhouse in Memphis, including himself, will be brought in to work at the new Cal's in Lexington. 

"We consider our Cal's family to be the absolute best in the business." said Johnson.  "We honestly would have preferred to bring in even more people from Memphis, but it just wasn't possible."  Cal's Championship Steakhouse, according to Johnson, will strive to bring an exciting new dining experience to the people of Lexington.  "We will bring in the finest quality, 5-star beef in America." said Johnson.  "It will be so good, in fact, that we know it won't stay very long...on your plate, that is."

John Calipari, who was hired as Kentucky's new basketball coach in April, was reportedly on a recruiting trip, and unavailable for comment.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Gil Espy
 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com