I ♥ John

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.


9 thoughts on “I ♥ John

  1. I’m not as forgiving. I can take anything but a lie. I don’t wish him any harm but over the last few days I went from hoping he does well to hoping he falls on his face. If I am going to root for him, e is going to have to do it from scratch and not destroy our program in the process.

  2. Well written Kelly! I was missing some Observations of the Ordinary, and this one did not let me down. Thanks!My Kelly had a great analogy the other day about the “lying” situation that most are upset about with Cal. The analogy goes something like this: We ask you, Kelly are you happy here in Memphis? You answer, Yeah, I’m happy here in Memphis. My family is here, my husband has a good job, we’re expecting baby number two, we have a great church. I’m happy in Memphis. A couple days later, you get an offer to be paid 1 million dollars to move to unnamed beautiful place because they want to document you as a stay at home mom. So your dream job, staying at home with your children and watching them grow is now giving you an opportunity for 1million dollars. You don’t have to worry about your hubby’s job, because 1 million will take care of that, and he can pursue whatever endeavor he likes there in that unnamed beautiful new location. You take it. Wow, yeah, this is a great opportunity. But wait, were you lying to me a couple days ago when I asked about you being happy in Memphis? No… you didn’t because with what you knew to be true that day, yes you were/are. With this new opportunity in front of you however, you’re willing to step out of Memphis where you’re happy and hopefully pursue greatness.This analogy from my man last night put Coach Cal’s “I’m happy in Memphis” speak into better perspective for me. Thought I’d share.

  3. I’m still trying to figure out how he lied to people? He said Memphis is where he wants to be. I get that. But Memphis is where I want to be right now as well. But if someone were to come to me and tell me that they wanted to pay me a million to move to Wyoming and teach fly fishing, you better well darn believe that I’m going to move to teach fly fishing. Doesn’t mean I don’t want to be in Memphis. Just means that my plans have changed. At no point in time did Calipari say that he wished to NOT be considered for a job with another university. Billy Donovan and Jay Wright both told the media that they loved being where they were and that they DID NOT wish to be considered for other jobs. Big difference.So where’s a lie in that? Haven’t we all said that we want to do something in life and then something comes along to change that?

  4. Just got word from the hubby, Mr. McGoo that he commented… and funny thing is my previous comment wasn’t approved yet, so he didn’t know what I wrote… I’m interested to see how similar our comments are because of that. ha ha

  5. I think Kelly McGugan’s analogy is satisfying with one exception: can you really tell me that when John said he wants to be in Memphis, as of that day, he had NO IDEA Kentucky would come knocking? Surely he knew the UK coach was going to be fired (can’t remember if he already was by that point or not), and surely John knew he as one of the top coaches in the sport at the moment. 2+2=4. Calipari had to have had a good inkling, at the very least, that UK was just days away from laying a fat deal in front of him….and if he knew that was a possibility, then he lied to us at the press conference that day.

  6. “can you really tell me that when John said he wants to be in Memphis, as of that day, he had NO IDEA Kentucky would come knocking?”No, I can’t say that. Can you? As far as I know, the only ones that would know that are Cal and God. So now we are assuming and a lot of people are doing that and thus calling him a liar. For what? Saying he didn’t know Kentucky would come knocking is hard to know…considering they didn’t before two years ago. It’s hard to know what happened. But that doesn’t keep people from throwing names out.And let’s say he did say that and knew they may come calling. Still doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to be here. Everyone acts like he owes them something. He only owes something to himself and his family. I challenge anyone to convince me otherwise. Fact is, this happens in every walk of life and this is what happens more often than not in college football and basketball. To think it doesn’t is purely naive.

  7. Mr. Magoo, I still have to disagree. I’m in the service business. The PR business (college sports) is not that much different as far as dealing with people goes. At the least, what Calipari was saying was misleading (at the very very least). If I mislead or misrepresent my product in any way, I lose my clients, I lose respect of my peers, and I more than likely get sued. Granted I have legal ramifications in my business and Calipari doesn’t. I just can’t treat me customers (his fans) that way and still expect them to be loyal. If you came to me and said, “Are you my agent?” I say, “Yes, I am and I want to continue to be your agent.” Then two days later I call you and say I do not represent the company I have placed you with anymore so you have to go find a new agent. Don’t you feel a little sticky? Has your trust in me waned? Doesn’t something just not feel right?

  8. Plus, Cal says his dream job is UK. It has been his dream job since ’92. So really, Memphis has never truly been where he WANTS to be – he has always wanted to be at UK. And as Cal climbed the ladder of respect in the coaching world, he knew he was getting closer to being offered said dream job. So… a lie is a lie is a lie, and I don’t appreciate it in the sports world (which is NOT some parallel universe where morality doesn’t exist, contrary to popular belief) or in any other context.

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