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John Calipari: “The culture has just changed in football.”

John Calipari says the UK football culture has changed for the good. (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Several weeks ago Mark Stoops talked about his relationship with UK basketball coach John Calipari and how he was Calipari’s “biggest fan” when he had the time to enjoy basketball season.

With that thought in mind, I asked Calipari at Thursday’s Media Day how much he had enjoyed this football season and was not the least bit surprised by his answer — even if some others apparently were.

“Oh, it’s been great. Can I say this? I called Mark after the Texas A&M game, and if you’re a coach, when you lose, don’t call me and tell me it was good. I don’t want to hear that. Like and if I see somebody on my phone and I know that’s what they’re going to try to do, I hit the eat poop button, like no, I’m not talking to you, okay,” Calipari said.

“So I text to Mark what I saw, that the first touchdown they scored was, okay, your defense I thought balled, but they were on the field too long. It wasn’t your best game and you still went to overtime with a chance to win. Incredible. Best thing, the culture, everybody was mad and angry.”

That was a terrific point. There was no moral victory for Kentucky taking the game to overtime. No, this time Kentucky was upset because it didn’t win.

“Do you remember where two years ago we’d be sad and disappointed? Wasn’t no sad now. Everybody, their staff was mad, their players were mad, our fans were mad, the culture has just changed in football,” Calipari said. “The best thing that came out of it was Benny (Snell). In basketball we call it touches. He didn’t get a whole lot of touches, and he is like a Heisman candidate.

“Now, the game ends, they lose. The last play was — okay, and Benny, I can’t imagine what he did in the locker room, but I know this, in front of the media, he said everything the right way because he was thinking about his team.

“That is big. Big, when you’re a Heisman candidate and you don’t get the touches and the team loses, because that kid wants to win, and he knew if I had the ball — give me the ball twice in that situation, I don’t care, let the lineman fall down, but he never said a word, and I told Mark that.

“I said, ‘You guys are in a great place, man.’ What you’ve done — I said, keep reminding everybody it’s taken you six years. That wasn’t a two-year turnover. It’s been six years.”

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