Big Blue Nation has positive reaction to Coach Calipari - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Big Blue Nation has positive reaction to Coach Calipari

Fans say facts don't lie.  They have the coach who turned UMass and Memphis into national powers, who wins three of every four games, and who is one of the best recruiters in the country.

As Coach John Calipari said on Wednesday, "This is the right place if you're trying to win national titles.  If you're trying to recruit the best of the best."

As John Calipari spoke, the Big Blue nation was listening -- including several guys in a parking lot with a tiny radio.  As fan Randy Van Hoose put it, "He's probably the one guy that could get us back to where we're supposed to be quicker than anyone else.  So, yeah, the fans will be expecting a lot."

The only discouraging word seems to come from those who wonder whether a 48-hour courtship is long enough to make a clear-headed $31 million decision.  UK President Lee Todd says it was: "You have to feel people.  You have to get a sense, and it was very positive, and he was very open on questions that we asked."

After a Sunday meeting with Calipari in Chicago, Todd was satisfied he had the right guy this time.

And fans such as Whitney Waldner agree:  "I just want to welcome Cal to Lexington."  He was hanging around hoping for a glimpse of the new coach on Wednesday:  "Yeah, maybe a camera phone shot, something like that."  When asked whether it was worth it, he replied, "Absolutely. Absolutely. It's UK basketball.  It's always worth it."

The patience paid off for some fans.  Coach Cal (he already has a pet name) said hello, posed for photos, even signed some autographs as he tried to reach his ride to the airport.

It was quite a contrast for fan Alonzo Shirley.  "I've come over here before to try to get stuff from Gillispie signed.  He didn't have time to talk to you.  You could tell the difference with this coach.  Most of them would done be gone.  This coach, he's going to be a different coach.  You're going to see a new Kentucky. Be back in the old days like it used to be."

Coach Calipari on Wednesday denied persistent rumors he and U of L Coach Rick Pitino don't get along.

Calipari says he and Pitino go way back, and the only problems they have are when their teams butt heads on the court.

But many UK and U of L fans think the Calipari-Pitino rivalry will only make the schools' annual face off more intense and more competive -- if that's possible.

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