It's no secret what most Kentucky fans think of Pat Forde. Whether fairly or otherwise, he is seen as a Wildcat hater. A John Calipari hater to be exact. From his time at the Louisville Courier-Journal to co-writing a book with Rick Pitino, Forde has exemplified to Big Blue Nation the media bias that some have against their beloved Wildcats.
Hot off the heels of the South Carolina debacle in which John Calipari was thrown out of and then subsequently skipped the post-game press conference, Forde penned a complete take down of Cal which can be read here if you so desire. The title, "You made your bed John Calipari, now lie in It", drips of venom. Forde, for whatever reason, seemingly has a personal vendetta against John Calipari and conspiracy theorists insist that he is making a personal crusade out of taking down the coach.
Before I get to Forde's article, I do want to address what Calipari did to inspire it in the first place. The moment he was booted from the gym in Columbia, the daggers of the detractors were out and gleaming. The moment he didn't show up for the press conference, they slashed and ripped without mercy. Forget that Rick Pitino skips out on pressers on a regular basis, as do other coaches around the NCAA, Calipari was unmercifully lambasted for it.
Cal should not have let his emotions get the better of him during the game and he should have been at the press conference with his players instead of coach John Robic. Is it fair that the folks in the media were critical of him? Yes, totally.
What isn't fair is Forde's take on the situation at Kentucky and his views on how Calipari's bed was made. He does start the article off with two valid questions:
What has happened to the squad that had you dancing in the car on the way to your office in October?
The season is not lost, but it's headed that direction at a high rate of speed. What are you going to do about it?
We are all wondering what has happened to that team, including the head coach. Whatever joy that they once shared was drained some time ago. How is Cal going to fix this? He's admitted to the fact that he needs to change and he took full responsibility for his team's shortcomings in his latest press conference. These are the things that we all want to hear coming from him at the moment.
With all the formalities out of the way, Forde then goes into complete attack mode:
Is it still Ryan Harrow's fault? That poor kid- who you recruited- was made the scapegoat last year. He was the point guard who didn't run the team the way you wanted, and thus was run off to Georgia State. Archie Goodwin went pro with minimum lamentation. Kyle Wiltjer transferred, and nobody blinked. They all left under a cloud of blame accompanied a trip to the NIT and a humiliating loss to Robert Morris.
Here he paints Calipari as running the aforementioned players off with a stick under a cloud of blame. But that's not how it went down. Harrow did transfer to Georgia State in order to be closer to his ailing father, a situation that he admitted to being a distraction all season long. Goodwin made the decision to go to the NBA on his own, he wasn't forced out the door. As for Wiltjer, Calipari made public statements imploring him to remain at Kentucky.
If it was true that Calipari blamed last season entirely on the players, then why are Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress still on the team? Shouldn't they have been sent packing along with Goodwin, Harrow and Wiltjer? Forde obviously didn't think that this fact fit into his narrative.
The Yahoo! columnist continues:
Can the 40-0 T-shirts people have been using to wax their cars be forwarded to the good people in Wichita? Just in case?
That's just trolling.
Did you know that the two Kentucky teams relying solely on your recruits as the major contributors are last year and this year? And their record is 42-20, 23-11 in the SEC, with an NIT berth and four losses to teams ranked outside of the Ken Pomeroy top 100?
Did you know that your first three teams at Kentucky all had veteran players recruited by previous coaches in key roles? Those teams went a combined 102-14, 40-18 in the South Eastern Conference, with two SEC titles, two SEC tournament titles, two Final Four appearances and a national title?
These comments are ridiculous. Clearly he is talking about Patrick Patterson, Josh Harrellson, DeAndre Liggins and Darius Miller. All of them were great players in their own way, but Forde doesn't mention what these players were doing before Cal got to Kentucky.
He doesn't mention that the previous coach left a mess in the locker room. He doesn't mention that Liggins once left the bench during a game, was often suspended, and was close to leaving the team. He doesn't mention that Darius Miller had earned the nickname "Disapearius" as his confidence had been shattered by the turmoil and mind games of Billy Gillispie. He also doesn't mention how poorly Harrellson was treated and that nobody ever thought that he could be made into a serviceable center let alone an NBA player.
Would any of these players be where they are today if Billy Gillespie had remained? Would they have enjoyed deep runs into the NCAA tournament if not for John Calipari building their confidence and re-working their game? All of them have spent time in the NBA, would that be true if Cal had not been their coach? The only player out of that group that would have still gone pro is Patrick Patterson.
Forde also purposefully left out that John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Eric Bledsoe and Doron Lamb were all players that Cal recruited. They were the main reasons for the run of success that Calipari first enjoyed at Kentucky.
Pat Forde set out to write a hatchet job and that's exactly what he did. He's been waiting five years to write his dream article, and Saturday's events gave him the ammunition that he needed in order to do it.
The damage has been done and I am not absolving Calipari of any type of blame. He has some questions to answer about this team and the direction they are going, but Forde went out of bounds with his critique.
The Wildcats and Cal are at a crossroads for a second time in two years. I'm not sure what is going to motivate them towards success at this point. But there are a great deal of doubters out there, some in our own ranks, and nothing would be more satisfying to me than to silence those doubters with inspired play, renewed passion, and fresh dedication to what makes us all sports fans in the first place: this is a game and it's supposed to be fun.
Cal and his team have a lot of work ahead of them. A home game against Alabama, a road trip to #1 Florida, the SEC tournament and then on to the Big Dance in order to really see what they are made of. Now it is time to define the team. Aaron Harrison still believes there is a run left in them. Cal is going to do whatever it takes to get the team back on track. What better way to unite a team than using the old "It's us against the world" mentality? Because right now, there are an awful lot of people rooting for them to fail.
And count Pat Forde as the ringleader of that crowd.