Unless you’ve been living under a rock (and even then, only if you didn’t have a wireless internet connection under said rock), you know that John Calipari has resigned as the U of M head basketball coach to go coach at Kentucky.
When the rumors really kicked up 3 or 4 days ago, I was surprised at the intense emotional reaction I had to the thought of Cal leaving. Although I have followed the Tigers for a good 5 years, I never realized how unreasonably in love I was with Coach Cal. I enjoyed his down-to-earth charisma every time he spoke to the media, I loved his coaching/recruiting prowess, I applauded his demands that his players go to class, graduate, and stay out of trouble off the court, and I sympathized with him every time he limped across the court in his pre-hip surgery days. And, of course, he won games. With him on the sidelines, fans never lost hope that the Tigers could pull it out if they got behind in a game or pummel even the most prestigious of opponents.
I guess that’s why I was instantly transported back to high school emotionalism when I heard he was seriously considering leaving Memphis. It felt like a high school break up in the middle of the cafeteria. At first I was confused – how could Cal leave his baby? He transformed the program from mediocre (at best) to consistently phenomenal… how could he walk away from that? Then I was angry – how could Cal lie to us only one week earlier, telling reporters that Memphis is where he wanted to be? I know, I know, all coaches have to say that to keep up appearances, but that doesn’t fly with me. Lying is lying no matter how you rationalize it, and when my high school sweetheart of 9 years lies to me, I am catapulted beyond anger and land smack in the middle of hateful. I began to wish Cal would die a horrible, painful death, and that nobody would ask him to prom, much like I wished upon many ex-boyfriends who shall remain nameless.
Then it hit me: how could I suddenly well up with such extreme hatred toward someone I had “loved” so much? It was kind of scary. And definitely irrational. And when I called a spade a spade, I was somehow able to come to terms with the situation: John is an amazing coach, and, from what I can tell, a wonderful person, and though I am sad to see him leave Memphis, I really do want the best for him at UK. Besides, I don’t think he’d really want to go to prom anyway.