John Calipari – “I Coach For The Names On The Back Of The Jersey – Not The Front”

cal rob mor

Just two and half months prior to the release of Rick Pitino’s latest book, Kentucky head coach John Calipari has announced that he will write a book. Very original, Cal.

Calipari’s book will be titled “Players First: Success from the Inside Out.” It is expected to go on sale in the spring of 2014. Excerpts from the book have recently been published online courtesy of There is one excerpt in particular that really stands out.

Kentucky is college basketball’s legendary program. It has the most wins and the most devoted fan base. (I call them crazy; they watch more game film than I do.) I respect the hell out of the tradition—I’m lucky to be a part of it and I’ve got the best job in basketball—but I don’t do what I do for the commonwealth of Kentucky, for the university, for the legacy of the program, or for the greater glory of Big Blue Nation. There was a time I coached partly for myself—for status, respect, money, wins. But I don’t do that anymore, either. Good for those coaches who get to seven hundred, eight hundred, or even a thousand wins, but I’m not staying in it that long. I can promise you my record will not be on my tombstone.

I coach for the names on the back of the jersey—not the front. My players. They’re sent to me by their fathers, their mothers, their grandmothers, their aunts—whoever in this world raised them and loves them. Others look at their NBA bodies and consider them lucky. Future millionaires, just stopping through before they cash in. That’s not what I see. They’re kids, some of them as young as seventeen. They all need me in a different way. Some want my affection, others my approval. It’s a burden to be responsible for other people’s children, sometimes a heavy burden.

This isn’t the first time that Calipari has made comments like this. Following his first season in Lexington, his team had five players taken in the first round of the NBA Draft. Later on that night Calipari called it the “best day in Kentucky basketball history.” His team that featured five first rounders was the perennial favorite for a national championship, but got upset in the Elite 8, by West Virginia.

Who am I to tell Kentucky fans how to react to this? However, one thing that is evident here is that there is a huge difference in the way Rick Pitino and John Calipari run their programs. Both have proven that their methods can be successful. We’ll see which one is more successful in 2014.


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  1. Of course a Louisville paper would title this article the way it is pathetic the things u Louisville people do to try n bring us down

  2. I’m fine with the statement about being for the kids. It’s just weird that he was throwing kids under the bus this last year when they didn’t live up to expectations. Coaches that care about kids do not call them soft to the media.

  3. Ryan Harrow should probably read this …

  4. Shane, I would tell my kid he was soft if I was trying to motivate them. You try anything to get them fired up and compete. I do like Pitino and think if he stayed he would have the most all time wins. My rank for coaches would be 1) Cal 2) Pitino 3) K 4) Jim B 5) Self/Donovan. I’m cat fan so I have to put him number one.

  5. So I’m guessing Cal’s dominate record against Pitino hasn’t proved anything?…..Strange.

  6. Taken out of context from a UofL fan, yes… Big deal? No… He should be coaching for the name on the back, not the front of the jersey!! UofL fans will try and find any reason to stir the pot. Also trying to make it seem like Calipari is writing a book just bc Pitino did is stupid. Remember when Calipari got the extremely big contract for UK when he was hired? Not long after, Pitino got a similar deal… Stop making it seem like UK wants to follow in UofL steps… Theirs a pretty decent gap between these two programs, in UK favor… They don’t need to follow in anyone’s steps.

  7. Uk fans say what you want I am a diehard card fan. But do a lot of business in Lexington, with a lot of BBN nutty fans as friends. And I know for a fact they love Rick to death still. Now these younger ones that are into Cal, maybe not. But the BBN fans that have the big bucks still prefer Rick.

  8. I think this is being blown way out of proportion… Coach Cal it’s known for his recruiting what better way to get kids to pick you than to say you are there for them first and foremost? I’m a card fan through and through but I know good strategy when I see one. I know people consider him a great coach (I know I rank him as #1 in recruiting) but I think his active mind is is never thinking xs and os. He’s a big picture type of guy and he knows his job is secure if he can win championships at Kentucky and he wins with pure talent. Another way to get the talent is what he’s doing and I can’t hate.

  9. Is it me or does anyone else find it hilarious that UK fans would even comment on an Cardinal website, let alone be on it…that is all!

    • LMAOFF!!!! I Crack Up Laughing Everytime I See Them Over Here! LMAOFF AGAIN!!!!!!

    • It’s just as funny seeing Louisville fans comment on UK sports’ websites

    • I actually was reading this article snippet from and it gave a link to read the full article to go to this link.So that’s why I’m here maybe as well as others there jackleg card fan.

  10. First of all, most of you people are ignorant. UK is jealous of UofL and UofL is jealous of UK. Examples Arena, t-shirts, coaches, football, players, draft, championships, L1C4, billboards, etc. You guys just like talking out your butt. Last and final thing, UofL does stuff because of UK but UK is always doing stuff to counter UofL to stay on top in this state.

  11. By the way Rick vs. Cal is about even

  12. Another jacked post from Card Chronicle

  13. This was genius by Card Conn to drive UK fans to visit your site. All educated fans UlL & UK alike know Cal has already written an extremely successful book that plenty of fans of both teams have probably heard or seen excerpts and quots from. Cal and Rick are equal coach and The Standard of what a Modern NCAA BBall Coach has to be to stay at the top and that is relevant. Picking the correct fights to fight is just as important as schedualing those ten or so give me’s on the schediule. They Market themselves and their institutions as well as anyone out there. That’s what UL and UK fans have in common and we are so lucky to be in the Commonalth the True Heart of College Basketball. All over this country people may think people in Kentucky are a bunch of hicks or what the hell is Kentucky and what makes it relevant at all, but because of those two men we are the center of college basketball from Oct to Apr and that does not appear to be changing anytime soon. We are relevant and every top player in the country that hears from either one of those schools know that the name on the back is gonna be taken care of just fine if they choose a school from the Commonwealth. We are all Very Lucky!!!

  14. To L1C4. It may seem hilarious that UK fans would be on or comment on this website. The difference between you and us, we love basketball. And the article is about our coach. Even morons can see the connection. So laugh on there funny boy, when we come calling this year you are going to be crying. One more thing, a wise man wants to know what his enemy is thinking.

  15. Stay tuned for an excerpt from Rick Pitino’s new book: “Abortions and me, Rick’s story of lies, adultery, and baby murder.”

  16. Calipari coaches to win at any cost, including getting a school in big trouble (UMass, Memphis), and Ky’s day will come….they may have the first vacated NCAA BB Title after his slimy, sleazy tactics are caught again! I suppose he has to coach for the names on back…..he could CARE LESS about the school he works for!

  17. @ Rick Schabowski…Well said! @ Tom…A WISE man told me don’t argue with fools because people from a distance can’t tell who’s who! -L1C4

  18. Coach Cal may not coach for the name on the front of the jersey, but it is the tradition, the facilities, and the support of UK and the BBN that allow him to recruit the number of top athletes that he does. At his previous stops, he had one or two of the top hundred recruits to coach on his teams. At UK he has a roster full of them. I do not think that, if he had stayed at UMass or Memphis, he would have the top recruiting class every year like he does at Kentucky. He may not coach for UK or its great fans, but he should be grateful to them for much of his current success. (And the feeling is certainly mutual. After years of irrelevance and worse, thanks to Coach Cal, UK is back on top of the college basketball pyramid, where it should be. )

    • Bullshit comment! When he left Memphis, he took and sold the no. 1 recruiting class with himself to kensucky. Snake oil salesman, always will be. It will catch up with him soon enough. Had signed D. Cousin, X. Henry, D. Nolan and J. Walls was on the way. Get your facts straight before spewing bullshit. Just Sayin

  19. Keep on sellin’, Cal. Maybe someday we’ll believe you. One thing I do agree with that he said, though. I wouldn’t want that record of vacated seasons and Final Fours on my tombstone, either!

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