Via Diamond Leung at ESPN, John Calipari's website CoachCal.com has a missive up aimed directly, but very generally, at those recruits considering Kentucky as we move toward the early signing period beginning on Wednesday and lasting for a week. Here's what Coach Cal had to say vis-a-vis negative recruiting:
Before we get to National Signing Day, and as players wind down their decision process, I would hope everyone – players and fans – understand that if you start hearing outlandish things, understand it’s out of desperation. Some of the stuff I’ve heard thrown out there during this recruiting process is ridiculous and crazy.
Most UK fans have heard of this, of course. Occasionally you see the kind of stuff Calipari is talking about repeated on recruiting-heavy websites for opposing schools as talking points. We saw it all the time during the Tubby Smith administration -- claims that UK played a slow-down game, etc. We didn't get as much during the Gillispie era because it was so mercifully short, but they could have used most anything from practice habits to gossip about Gillispie's personal life.
With Calipari, it comes down to one thing -- you know, that thing that fans of opposing schools always assure us will happen, but never has, and hopefully never will? Never mind that many of the schools making these types of claims are engaging in the basest form of hypocrisy. That only matters to those of use keeping score, an the recruits really don't have time for that.
There could be other things as well, I guess -- who knows? Every school has some things in their past, present or rumors real or fake that can be trumped up into a plausible story for confusing the young and uninformed. What none of us know is how much of an impact it has, although election history tells us that negative campaigning works. It may be just the same for basketball, or wildly different. I have no idea.
I do know this -- Calipari will continue to get the best of the best as long as he keeps putting players in the top of the NBA draft lottery every year. At the level UK recruits to, the NBA is a major factor in the mind of every player considering Kentucky. They have not forgotten John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Patrick Patterson, Daniel Orton, Enes Kanter, Brandon Knight, or any of the other 20 draft picks Calipari has produced.
In the end, results matter, and when results are the major consideration, Calipari comes out on top most of the time.
UPDATE: More from Aaron Smith here. Inquiring minds want to know which "dog" is yelping ...