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Paul Finebaum slams John Calipari, says he is 'no longer the best option' for Kentucky

Jonathan Wagner08/15/22
Article written by:On3 imageJonathan Wagner

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Andy Lyons via Getty Images.

Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari sent shockwaves – perhaps inadvertently – when he called Kentucky a basketball school. That led to a strong response from Wildcats football coach Mark Stoops, which led to an all-out feud between the two. Now, SEC Network analyst Paul Finebaum has come in with some very strong criticism of Calipari.

Finebaum joined McElroy and Cubelic in the Morning on Monday, where he was asked about the feud between Calipari and Stoops. As of right now, Finebaum believes everything is about football, which makes Calipari’s comments “delusional.”

“He might, because sometimes I think you can be delusional in the moment,” Finebaum said when asked if he truly thinks Calipari believes Kentucky is a basketball school. “And listen, I don’t need to explain Kentucky basketball. But you and I understand in 2022 when billion dollar deals are being made across the board, it’s about football. It’s not about basketball. You might have legitimately been able to have heard Mike Krzyzewski say a year ago that we’re a basketball school. But even at Duke today you probably couldn’t make that statement and you certainly can’t make it at Kentucky.”

Calipari is coming off of a disappointing Round of 64 loss to Saint Peter’s last season despite being a No. 2 seed. Stoops, meanwhile, is coming off a strong season, and the Kentucky football team has gone to six straight bowl games.

Finebaum: Calipari is no longer the best coach for Kentucky

When assessing Calipari’s comments, Finebaum did not hold back. He believes it is Calipari’s worst moment as Kentucky’s head coach, even worse than some of the coaching blunders that have come throughout the years. Finebaum also believes that Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart has grown tired of Calipari.

“You can call it an unforced error, you can call it whatever you want. I’m calling it Cal’s worst moment,” added Finebaum. “Really other than blowing a perfect season with terrible coaching in the Wisconsin semifinal game. At Kentucky, every season begins with optimism – and I’m speaking basketball-wise. Every season begins with five-stars. And you don’t know what’s going to happen. So at the end of March or early April, maybe Cal wins the national championship. But more than likely he won’t and this is going to continue on.

“I think what Mitch Barnhart said on Saturday was, ‘We’ve had enough of you, Cal. We’ve put up with you, we’ve paid you, we gave you a lifetime contract, but I’m making a decision today, I’m siding with the football coach who has been loyal and has never tried to undermine me from a public relations standpoint.’ And that’s really how you have to interpret it.”

Finebaum’s criticism of Calipari didn’t stop there, though, as he went on to say that Calipari ruined the spotlight of Kentucky’s current Bahamas tour. The Wildcats would be better served to go in another direction in the eyes of Finebaum.

“It is the biggest story in the SEC right now because it came out of left field and it came at a time where we should’ve been celebrating Kentucky basketball. They had the stage to themselves, four days in the Bahamas and Calipari blew it. Quite frankly, I don’t know where he goes to get it back. Just listening to our audience, and we have a lot of Kentucky fans that call in, they’re very mixed on him right now.

“I mean are you guys telling me you can’t find a coach better than John Calipari right now? Billy Donovan? I’m just throwing a name out there. A young coach who is up-and-coming? Take your pick. John Calipari is really no longer the best option for the University of Kentucky.”