Via every single source on the Internet, John Calipari told an audience Wednesday, while receiving an award from Alltech, that the team goal last season wasn't to win a national championship. Instead it was to get eight players drafted:
"Last year we started the season with a goal. You may think that goal was to win the national title and win all the games. It was to get eight players drafted. The mission statement for me would be to be a vehicle to help others reach their dreams, to be the stone that creates the ripple in their lives that goes on and on and on. Now, in our state, they want my mission to be WIN NATIONAL TITLES! WIN NATIONAL TITLES! But my mission is bigger than that."
You gotta respect the candor (even though "WIN NATIONAL TITLES!' is somewhat of a straw man). You must also have the kind of five year run Cal has led to weather the inevitable backlash in certain corners of BBN. If that's the way you talk to the fan base of college basketball's greatest program, then the watermark for it to even approach acceptability is extremely high in some circles.
Cal's intent is axiomatic - it's all about recruiting. What appeals to today's elite players? It's not previous titles, coaches, or teams that earn nicknames. It's making it to the NBA and everything that achievement entails. Good for BBN that Cal is like Alec Baldwin's character in Glengarry Glen Ross shouting through the basketball offices, and encouraging his staff -- except he replaces "always be closing" with "always be recruiting." Every single word that comes out of his mouth targets the hearts and minds of recruits and their families. BBN benefits even if Cal is seemingly suggesting he misrepresents the fan base's real desires to make himself look good in recruit's living rooms.
And does anyone really buy that he doesn't like winning? It's easy to see how much he cares by his insane recruiting schedule or the emotion on display during games. He sweats more than some of the players. It's late May and he continues to recruit players for next year's team despite currently being bound to fall in the preseason top five. He says he has a goal to go 40-0. He does care.
What is interesting about this comment is how it raises a conception that fans, coaches, and players each have independent self-interests, and sometimes they don't align. Who is to say which of these interest groups has a more legitimate claim than the other? Should a coach derive more pleasure from seeing his mentees achieve their goals, or from seeing the fans achieve their goals? Calipari has found a way to market that the former can actually lead to the latter.