clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Both Rick Pitino and John Calipari have given the Kentucky Wildcats their best years

New, 1 comment

No matter what your thoughts on Rick Pitino are, you have to acknowledge that he and John Calipari have given the Kentucky Wildcats 16 years of amazing coaching.

USA TODAY Sports

Make no mistake. I dislike and despise the Louisville Cardinals as much as the next person. It is a special kind of resentment that I feel for the Dirty Birds, and I admit that a ton of the bad feelings I have are directed at Rick Pitino.

My level of resentment is not really that he is the coach of the Louisville Cardinals. To be honest, I would despise any Louisville coach equally. My particular beef with Pitino is all of the other, non-coaching personal baggage that he has accumulated over the years and my personal disappointment with him.

As much as I dislike the man that Pitino has become, you will NEVER hear me badmouth what he did at Kentucky and how he literally rebuilt the phoenix from the ashes of probation. I will be eternally grateful to Pitino for what he did, and you can definitely count me among the group of fans that do not think his banner should ever come down.

I admit, I am always conflicted to see Pitino face Kentucky, even though he is in his 16th year as the chief villain and protagonist. However, I can still appreciate the eight years at Lexington. Ironically enough, John Calipari is now in his eighth season in Lexington, and you can not deny that Pitino and Calipari have given Kentucky fans their combined best 16 years of coaching.

As good as Pitino's eight seasons in Lexington were. John Calipari is will have an even better eight-year span in Lexington, which is incredible. Here is a look at the head to head stats between Pitino and Calipari so far.

OVERALL RECORD

CALIPARI: 220-47 - PITINO: 219-50 81.4%

SEC RECORD

CALIPARI: 95-25 79.2% - PITINO: 104-28 78.8%

SEC REGULAR SEASON TITLES

CALIPARI: 4 - PITINO: 2

SEC TOURNEY TITLES

PITINO: 5 - CALIPARI: 4

SWEET 16's

CALIPARI: 5 - PITINO: 5

ELITE EIGHTS

CALIPARI: 5 - PITINO: 5

FINAL FOURS

CALIPARI: 4 - PITINO: 2

NATIONAL TITLES

CALIPARI: 1 - PITINO: 1

To be fair, the stats do not quite tell the whole picture. It does not take into account the amount of disarray that the Kentucky program was in when Pitino arrived and the incredible job that he did building it. His 14-14 season in 1989-90 is probably one of the best coaching seasons that I have seen in my lifetime.

Also, Pitino would have had another regular season SEC title in 1990-91 had Kentucky had been eligible and possible another SEC Tournament title and at least a Sweet 16 season. Also, the overall winning percentage between Calipari and Pitino would be even closer had Pitino not had to completely rebuild.

It is an incredible testament to Kentucky Wildcats basketball that we have had two Hall of Fame coaches that have given us the best combined sixteen years of their coaching careers. You can argue that Pitino's greater success is Louisville, but the numbers simply do not back it up. And we have all of the nasty off the court scandals that have tarnished his legacy.

At this point, I have to say that I have reached my limit of good will towards Pitino and have said enough nice things about him to reach my 2016 limit. Now, it's time to rivalry on.

The one area where these two coaches are not even are the head to head records since Calipari arrived at Kentucky. Pitino went 4-4 before Calipari took over the Wildcats and just 1-8 since. A couple of those were NCAA Tournament wins, which are more satisfying to Wildcat fans.

While I can certainly appreciate what Pitino has done for Kentucky, he has been a Cardinal for twice as long as a Wildcat, and I have absolutely no sympathy for him as John Calipari continues to exert his dominance today.