University of Kentucky Coach John Calipari gave a postgame interview Saturday night — as coaches usually do — after his undefeated Wildcats just barely escaped what would have been a stunning upset at the hands of Notre Dame in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament’s “Elite Eight.”
As of Sunday morning, Calipari and his team are headed to the tournament’s rarefied Final Four — but not before the coach has taken a beating on social media for comments in that interview that online college hoops fans blasted as arrogant and “classless.”
Why? After Notre Dame came within one missed shot of sending the game into overtime, allowing Calipari and his Wildcats to survive with a 68-66 victory in the Midwest Regional Final in Cleveland, Ohio, Calipari was asked if the Irish gave his team the “toughest test”of its 38-0 season so far.
Calipari seemed dismissive of the very idea that any opponent could “test” his team at all.
“No,” he replied. “We played poorly.”
That seemed to be the line that flipped the outrage switch among Notre Dame fans — or apparently any college basketball fan not rooting for Kentucky to run the table.
The John Calipari postgame remark even set off a new Twitter hashtag — #Classless.
This is why I hate Calipari. He says they didn’t play good and doesn’t give credit to ND. Get outta here with that. #Classless
— Kody Howard (@KodyHoward) March 29, 2015
Really Calipari? “We had a bad game, they played great” give ND the credit they deserve. #Classless
— Cory Briggs (@BriggySmallz12) March 29, 2015
Even retired women’s tennis great Pam Shriver got in on the Calipari-bashing act, albeit without the hashtag.
Did anyone else find Calipari’s post win interview really obnoxious? You barely win & you can’t 1st give credit to opponents great play!
— Pam Shriver (@PHShriver) March 29, 2015
The “classless” tweets just wouldn’t quit.
John Calipari is a classless act. Post game comments were as disrespectful as any I’ve ever heard.
— Terry Corley (@TBCfromIND) March 29, 2015
Though some opted for even more blunt characterizations of the 57-year-old coach, who has helmed the Wildcats since 2009 and will now make his seventh overall trip to the Final Four, with one championship, in 2012, already under his belt — earning more than $7 million per year from the school.
The fact that Calipari didn’t give even the slightest of credit to Notre Dame is unbelievable. Please leave for the NBA, Captain Douchebag.
— Blake Courtney (@BlakeACourtney) March 29, 2015
But was Calipari really all that disperectful to Notre Dame? Check out these comments, made at the trophy ceremony following the game.
— Jason (@BigBlueBrain) March 29, 2015
Even in the postgame interview with cable network TBS, Calipari remarked, “We didn’t play very well and Notre Dame played really well, controlled the whole thing. But we made the plays. We figured out a way to win.”
When Kentucky takes on Wisconsin in a Final Four matchup next Saturday, however, fans will have another chance to scrutinize yet another John Calipari postgame interview, hanging on every word.
[Image: Andy Lyons/Getty Images]