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Calipari says he offered to postpone Louisville game, Cards declined: "I guess we're OK now."

Jack Pilgrim12/24/20

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Article written by:On3 imageJack Pilgrim
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The back-and-forth between John Calipari and Chris Mack isn't slowing down anytime soon, especially in the days leading up to the historic rivalry matchup between the Kentucky Wildcats and the Louisville Cardinals. After months of subtle jabs and louder public video responses, Calipari dipped his toes back in the rivalry talk this morning, joking that UofL has magically grown comfortable with the idea of playing UK this season after months of complaining about the "equity of Kentucky coming (to the KFC Yum! Center) in front of no fans." Maybe UK's abysmal 1-5 start changed things? "It's the Louisville game, whether it's Rick or Chris, it really doesn't matter," Calipari said. "I offered to postpone the game if they wanted to, but for some reason they told me, "No, they're good, they'll go." I said, "But you're not going to have fans? Do you still really want to play this?" They said, "Oh yeah, we want to go." So I guess we're OK now." Back in September, Mack said he was unsure about the status of the rivalry matchup, noting that it wouldn't be fair for Kentucky to play at Louisville with minimal in-person fan support, followed by a sold-out matchup in Lexington the year after. “I don’t know (if the Kentucky game will happen),” Mack said on “Full Court Press with Fanta and Adams,” a college basketball podcast out of Cleveland. “Where is the equity of Kentucky coming here in front of no fans, and then having to go to Rupp Arena in front of 21,000 fans? We recognize that it’s the best rivalry – I know I’m biased – in all of college basketball.” Mack was, however, up for a neutral site game this year, followed by the home-and-home series moving forward as scheduled in 2021 and beyond. “If there is somehow we could do this at a neutral site? Again, that’s without talking to Kentucky and [seeing] what their schedule holds.” In response to Mack's gripes, Calipari said the rivalry matchup would remain on as scheduled, stressing that UK would honor the original agreement between both parties.

“Chris and I have talked and he expressed his concerns,” Calipari said, via Jon Hale of the Courier-Journal. “While I understand the difficulty and the complications created by the pandemic, we are prepared to come to Louisville to play this season under the previously agreed upon terms, and we fully expect Louisville to honor the agreement with a return game to Rupp Arena next season.

“... It is no one’s fault we are in a pandemic. We cannot predict the future with this virus whether that’s this December or next December. My hope is they are not trying to end this series because it is important for this state that we play.” After a brief counter that again stated he "(didn't see the equity of playing the home game in front of potentially no fans and then returning a game to Rupp Arena in front of 22,000 fans" and adding that Louisville was "not afraid to play anybody," Mack set the rivalry on fire with a video response saying he will do “what’s most convenient for John and his program" to avoid standing in the way of the highly anticipated matchup. “I keep getting asked, "Coach, are we playing the game? Are you scared? Are you a chicken? You won't play Kentucky?" As for the UK series, here’s the thing: I want to do what’s most convenient for John and his program,” Mack said. “Never mind the fact that we had a December 12 mutually agreed upon date to play the game. And never mind that they backed out of the 12th because they were returning from London December 6th after playing Michigan. They thought it was too close to the 12th. Never mind the fact that that December 6th game got canceled, no trip to London. Can we play that game on the 12th? “Never mind the fact that they scheduled Notre Dame in lieu of playing us on the mutually agreed upon date of December 12th. Never mind the fact they called ESPN and tried to change one of our ACC games without our knowledge or permission. Never mind the fact that Mark Stoops and the football program at the University of Kentucky honored that request in football, to move Louisville's home game from 2020 to 2021. If you can do it in football, seems like you could do it in basketball. "... I don't want to stand in the way of college basketball's best rivalry. Whatever is most convenient for Coach Cal, we'll do it. See you in the Yum! Center. Go Cards." https://twitter.com/CoachChrisMack/status/1311065313753133058?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1311065313753133058%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fkentuckysportsradio.com%2Fbasketball-2%2Fchris-mack-responds-uofl-will-do-whats-most-convenient-for-calipari-and-uk%2F Funny how quickly the tone changed once the season began. We'll see you there, Coach.

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2023-01-30