Kentucky Basketball: Is John Calipari the Most Hated Figure in the Game?

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Kentucky Basketball: Is John Calipari the Most Hated Figure in the Game?
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
John Calipari is one of the most animated coaches on the sideline during games.

What comes to mind when you think of John Calipari? Chances are, those thoughts are negative if your favorite college basketball team isn't the University of Kentucky. And, outside of the Bluegrass state, Calipari's name becomes mired in resentment.

Shady. Corrupt. Manipulative.

Genius. Philanthropist. Champion.

There's obviously some grey area for those that like to ride the fence, but no matter what camp you fall under, there is one thing all of us can agree on: Calipari is the most polarizing figure in college basketball.

On the first extreme, it is obvious that Calipari has his detractors. And from his previous jobs, scandals and recruiting controversies, his detractors have plenty of ammunition. 

Extremists that hold the second set of more "benevolent" ideals are primarily located in or around the Horse Capital of the World. These members of the Big Blue Nation, often called the "best fans in the sport" (see this article by ESPN's Eamonn Brennan for proof) discredit those detractors because, alas, they have no "proof."

Fortunately, we don't have to get into the "where there's smoke, there's fire" debate right now. This article is more about a different dispute: Is John Calipari the most hated figure in college basketball?

There are no statistics that can measure "hatred," although I encourage you to vote in the poll for this article to see where your fellow readers stand.

Is John Calipari the most hated figure in college basketball?

Submit Vote vote to see results

What other figure in college basketball receives more hostility? Programs as a whole could draw as much animosity as Coach Calipari. Duke, North Carolina and UCLA certainly have their "haters." But do the coaches?

Mike Krzyzewski doesn't. Nor does Roy Williams or Ben Howland. Other "unlikable" coaches, like Bob Huggins or Rick Pitino, do not carry the antagonistic weight like Calipari. But why?

Well, for one, his career has been muddled with controversy. His track record works against him, even though his win-loss record is outstanding. 

Secondly, Calipari's skeptics will argue that his model of coaching hurts the game of basketball. He exploits the one-and-done rule better than any coach in the game. Like it or not, he is very successful at winning with players that rarely stay more than two years. 

His winning makes his cynics even more cynical. The 2012 national championship proved he could win it all with his unique model—something that more and more coaches are starting to utilize. 

But with this unique "model," coaches clearly benefit from recruiting players that flock to the NBA after one season. College basketball fans don't get to see top-notch talent for four years because of the rule, and Calipari is associated with that dilution of talent.

Aside from this association, Calipari is "allegedly" starting a newer trend. The Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA) sticks Calipari at the forefront of "professionalizing" the college game, although nothing he does is new (neutral-site games are customary).

No other coach brings as much to the table as Calipari. He is one of the best coaches in the game at doing what he does. What he does is detested by many, loved by few. Some may be jealous, others disgusted.

No one can deny, however, that Calipari is a great coach. He leads the winningest program in college basketball history. He manages egos as well as any coach, and his success reflects that. 

He's the most hated head coach in college basketball. Agree or disagree? Tell me why. 

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