SANDBAGGING HOOPS MAVEN
The coach of undefeated, top-ranked Kentucky organized a statewide Hoops for Haiti telethon that raised $1.3 million
Dan Patrick:How are you?
John Calipari: We're 10--8. It's funny. Georgia had us beat, Florida tied up the game down there; Auburn tied up the game with three minutes to go. So we're 3--0 in the league, right? No. We're like 0--3 in the league. We're lucky we're alive right now.
DP:Of course you're joking, you're 18--0. But if you were 10--8....
JC: They'd be putting for sale signs in my front yard.
DP:I hear that passion in your voice. How long can you continue to have that?
JC: About two more months, I hope [laughs]. I will say this: The job I'm doing, this isn't a 20-year run. If it's a 10-year run, you've done a lot. It's kind of like coaching Notre Dame football. You try to do that for a long period of time, you ain't making it. It's too overwhelming. But I love it.
DP:I look at Jim Calhoun and Coach K and I see the stress. You guys can't leave. It's addictive.
JC: Oh, I'm leaving. I left once involuntarily. [The Nets] fired me. And you know what? One of the reasons I've been doing the 10--8 thing is because everybody here says they're happy. Here's what they say: "I love how we play. I love that our players are getting better." O.K., would you love it if we were 10--8? No. Then you're only happy about winning. It's got to be about more than winning. It's gotta be about are we moving where we want to move.
DP:If I call you in 12 years, where are you?
JC: I'm on a beach, probably, or golfing and asking you, "What do you want? I'm on the 12th hole. Would you leave me alone?"
DP:No. You'll still be coaching.
JC: You're wrong. They're not going to have on my tombstone how many wins I had. That's not happening.
DP:Sensitive topic: Lane Kiffin left Tennessee after one year because he said USC was his dream job. When is it an ideal time for a coach to say, "It's O.K. for me to leave for a better job"?
JC: There's never a time. They love you while you're there. In a lot of places the only time they love you is when they can kick you out. Then you're a good guy. If they can kick you in the head and kick you in the butt, then you're a good guy. They'll later talk good about you. But if you leave at any point.... I left Memphis after nine years. For nine years I gave every ounce of everything I had. Even cheated my family to a certain point to get to that city and program. But there are people who are mad that I left, to this day.
DP:But one and done at a place is just not right.
JC: Let me ask you this: Do you like one and done with the players?
DP:There is a rule that allows them to do that. I don't like it. But in college football they have to stay three years before they can go to the NFL.
JC: Then they should make it that when you sign a contract, no other school in the country can talk to you until that contract is up.
DP:Will John Wall be at UK longer than Lane Kiffin was at UT?
JC: He'd better not be.
DP:You're already telling him to go?
JC: No, but if he came to me and he was the No. 1 pick in the draft, and he said he wanted to come back, we'd probably be wrestling around on the floor. Because there's no reason other than me trying to win more games.
I spoke with Colts All-Pro defensive end Dwight Freeney about the appropriate time to help an opposing quarterback to his feet. "Never," he said. "That would be a major [kangaroo court] fine. If I helped a quarterback, I might as well run to the other sideline after." When I asked Freeney why he wears a Yankees cap all the time, he confessed, "My loyalty lies with the Mets, but fashionwise, they have to come up with better hats. It's hard to do the blue and orange."
Before embarking on the latest leg of his basketball odyssey—to China, where he'll play for Shanxi—Stephon Marbury told me that he hopes to show that he deserves another shot to resurrect his career Stateside. "I'm good enough to be on an NBA team," said Marbury, who is 32. But it's also a marketing decision aimed at building his Starbury line of athletic shoes. "With so many people over there," he said, "it's an opportunity to allow the brand to get bigger."
Line of the week
CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell had this to say about the endorsement potential of squeaky-clean Florida quarterback Tim Tebow (above): "He is the most marketable guy we've ever seen coming out of college."
THE FINE PRINT: Peyton Manning is spending the week working on the two-minute drill: four Super Bowl commercials.
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. Colts owner Jim Irsay looks ahead to Super Bowl XLIV.
2. WR Vincent Jackson on the Chargers' disappointing finish.
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
DAVID E. KLUTHO (FREENEY)
BILL FRAKES (TEBOW)
ED REINKE/AP (CALIPARI)