To many John Calipari represents all that is wrong with college basketball. For starters Calipari turned a Umass program that hadn’t been heard from since the Dr. J days into a national powerhouse (remember “Refuse to Lose”). Only later did we come to find out that the star player Marcus Camby was taking payouts and getting hookers sent to his room by an agent. As soon as the scandal broke and Calipari got wind of this he took off for the NBA saying it was his “dream job”. I don’t know anyone who would call coaching the New Jersey Nets their dream job but so be it. After an awful tenure in NJ in which he called a Mexican reporter a “Mexican idiot” Coach Cal eventually ended up back at the University of Memphis where he took another program from the bottom, almost to the top, and then left right before the program was to be put on possible probation. Now at Kentucky and again leading another #1 team in the nation many feel it is only a matter of time before Coach Cal gets caught again and books it…….again.
But forget all this because I’m here to defend the man. And the best way to defend a man is to start with his family. While Coach Cal may leave every college program at the first sign of trouble he has stood by his wife for over two decades. Ellen and John met way back when John was an assistant coach at Kansas (under Larry Brown). Ellen worked at Kansas as well and while it wasn’t love at first site, eventually romance blossomed and Ellen followed John from city, to city, to city, to city. Like many wives of college basketball coaches Ellen considers herself a mother to all of John’s players. She has an open door policy for all players to stop by her house and always tries to remember every birthday.
We wouldn’t be doing this post justice however without talking about Coach Cal’s children. First their only son Bradley. Ok, enough about him. Next we have the two daughters. First we have Erin, who lives in the Winston Salem area after having attended Wake Forest for grad school. Got to love a girl that can rock the red hair. Then Magen. Seriously these two might be the best thing Coach Cal has given us, and this is coming from someone who owned 12 different versions of the refuse to lose T-shirt.