His comment naturally delighted UK?fans and had Louisville fans and coach Rick Pitino seeing red. Pitino even blasted Calipari for his remarks and one Louisville newspaper columnist accused Calipari of being jealous of Pitino's national championship and NCAA Tournament success.
Given a chance to tone down, or take back, his remark at Kentucky's Media Day Thursday in front of state and national media members, Calipari didn't budge.
"Look, we are the commonwealth's team because throughout this state we have support. Our biggest alumni base, other than Lexington, is Louisville. It's no disrespect for anybody else's program. Louisville has a great program and it is important to the city of Louisville and important to the state," Calipari said.
That sounds a little conciliatory, right. But now here's the rest of the story from Calipari.
"When we play them I hope they lose, but other than that I could really care less. We are not following or watching or recruiting against them," Calipari said. "They play in one league, and we play in another. So I'm just — are we the commonwealth's team. I mean, it's not a statement. We are. That's what we are. No disrespect for anybody else."
Yet the subtle jabs are there. Kentucky has had three straight No. 1 recruiting classes and has an all-star cast of recruits scheduled to attend Big Blue Madness. By saying UK?is not recruiting against Louisville, that's saying UK?is recruiting a higher level of player. And it was not accident that Calipari said he was not "following or watching" Louisville. That implied to me that he believes the Cardinals and Pitino are watching what Kentucky's does.