Calipari Issues Challenge To Tom Crean

11/27/2012 10:17 PM

After a season where a resurgent Indiana program handed Kentucky their first (and only) regular season loss and the Cats finished off the Hoosiers’ hopes for a Final Four in the Sweet Sixteen, good friends John Calipari and Tom Crean spent the summer going back and forth in the media about the future of the series. The annual matchup between the two schools, which had continued for 47 consecutive years, eventually died and both programs moved on without each other.

Until Tuesday night.

During Indiana’s beatdown of North Carolina, ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale announced that he’d received a text from Calipari saying that he’d be willing to play the take the court with the Hoosiers again and that he had a plan. The UK coach proposed a season-opener with Indiana at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn in a big-time event benefiting the V Foundation. It was a proposal that was essentially the same as what was originally tossed around and declined on the IU side of things, but Calipari changed the sales package some by making it for charity and moving it to the NBA’s sexiest new arena.

So what was Crean’s reaction? Pretty much exactly what you’d expect. “I think that ship has sailed,” Crean told reporters after the game, surprising absolutely no one – John Calipari included.

While Calipari would probably be more than happy to take on the Hoosiers next season at a neutral site when his team is as loaded as it’s ever been, his on-air message to Vitale likely had little to do with actually setting up a game. The UK head coach is the master of a number of things, but maybe none more so than dictating the public discussion of his team. For some reason this year, Vitale or someone else at ESPN has discussed the ending of the series on-air during every Indiana game and, whether intentional or not, the perception is that Kentucky tucked their tails and ran after losing last season. With one text message, John Calipari subtly fought back.

Now let’s just hope the two teams meet in the Final Four.


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