The Louisville-Kentucky rivalry is heating up — and the basketball season is still nearly two months away.
After a week of back-and-forth between the two coaches, Louisville coach Chris Mack said (sarcastically) in a video posted to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon that he’s ready to do whatever is most convenient for Kentucky coach John Calipari to ensure that the game takes place this season.
John Calipari won’t hold game at neutral site
The NCAA approved a plan earlier this month that will allow the men’s and women’s basketball seasons to start on Nov. 25 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Conferences and programs are working to set up their respective schedules — which will likely include significantly reduced non-conference portions across the board.
Louisville is set to host Kentucky this season at the KFC Yum! Center, and will make the trek to Lexington next season.
Because of the pandemic, however, Mack wanted to have this year’s game played at a neutral site — as fans won’t be allowed in normally. Having to play the rivalry matchup in an empty or near-empty arena before traveling to what will almost certainly be a sold-out Rupp Arena next year doesn’t seem fair to him.
“Chris and I have talked and he expressed his concerns,” Calipari said in a statement on Friday. “While I understand the difficulty and the complications created by the pandemic, we are prepared to come to Louisville to play this season under the previously agreed upon terms, and we fully expect Louisville to honor the agreement with a return game to Rupp Arena next season.”
So, Mack hit back on Tuesday.
‘Whatever is most convenient for Coach Cal, we’ll do it’
Mack, in a two-minute Twitter video directed to “Cardinals’ fans everywhere,” insisted he’s more than ready to take on the Wildcats this season.
“I want to do what’s most convenient for John and his program,” Mack said. “You do believe that, right, that I want to do what’s best for John?”
Mack then pointed out a string of events, in which he said Kentucky backed out of their initial date in December before rescheduling a different game on that date instead.
He also accused them of calling ESPN directly, in an effort to get a Louisville conference game rescheduled without talking to Mack or the Cardinals first.
“Never mind the fact that we had a Dec. 12 mutually agreed upon date to play the game,” Mack said. “Never mind the fact that they backed out of the 12th because they were returning from London on Dec. 6 after playing Michigan. They thought it was too close to the 12th. Never mind the fact that that Dec. 6 game got canceled — no trip to London. Can we play that game on the 12th?
“Never mind the fact that they scheduled Notre Dame in lieu of playing us on the mutually agreed upon date of Dec. 12. Never mind the fact that they called ESPN and tried to change one of our ACC games without our knowledge or permission.”
Mack also pointed to football and Kentucky’s decision to move Louisville’s home game between the two programs to next season due to the coronavirus. He also agreed to do the same thing with Cincinnati this year.
Though he means well in the lighthearted video, Mack has thrown down the gauntlet early before one of the best rivalry matchups in the sport.
If that’s coming now in September, imagine what will come in the days leading up to the game.
“Listen, I don’t want to stand in the way of college basketball’s best rivalry,” Mack said to end the video. “Whatever is most convenient for Coach Cal, we’ll do it.”
Calipari appeared to respond on Twitter hours later, too, though kept it short and sweet without tagging Mack or even mentioning Louisville directly.
So, game on.
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