- Jim Calhoun and John Calipari
are undeniable college basketball coaching legends,
emphasis on college.
These two J Cals are giants, so much so,
that in the eighties and nineties,
with Calipari at UMass, and Calhoun at UConn,
the northeast just didn't seem big enough
for the two of them, and legend has it,
if you stand at just the right spot,
on the Connecticut and Massachusets border,
you can still smell the lingering scent of beef in the air.
(bright upbeat music)
In 1986 Jim Calhoun left his post at Northeastern,
and joined a UConn Husky team that had spent the decade
in the bottom half of the northeast.
His first season with the team did not reverse their fortune
as UConn finished the season with only nine wins,
and found themselves looking up at the entire conference.
The following season,
Calhoun led them to a 20 and 14 record,
and an NIT championship win over Ohio state.
Meanwhile, before the start of the '88 '89 season,
John Calipari left his assistant position at Pittsburgh,
and assumed head coaching duties for the first time,
at the helm of the UMass Minutemen.
It was a UMass team with only one tournament appearance
under their belt, and it had been over ten years
since they cracked the top three in their conference.
At this point in time, there is no reason to suspect
that Calhoun and Calipari had any plans
to open up a beef market.
The two teams only had one non conference match up a season,
and that's if they even played at all.
But, just keep watching.
On January 30, 1989, UConn played gracious host
to the Minutemen, and spanked their pants off, 104 to 75.
One year later, to the day, UConn made the trip
to the Curry Hicks Cage in Massachusets,
for a game neither coach seemed to be excited for.
Calipari straight up said,
"We don't have a chance against Connecticut,"
and added that its a good game for them to have,
if they pound us it might help them at Providence.
Calhoun responded by saying, Oh, its great for us,
it might be one of my favorite things.
That and swallowing tacks and hemorrhoids.
I'm going to assume he meant having hemorrhoids,
and not swallowing them.
Either way it seems like these two should
actually be friends.
UConn won again by nearly 20 points.
After the game, Calhoun had praise for a team
Calipari himself claimed didn't stand a chance.
Saying maybe John doesn't like them,
but a couple of them could come down to Storrs next week,
and we'll dress them.
He also hinted at the possibility of UConn,
UMass yearly match up coming to an end.
But Calipari was in no rush
to lose a high profile game off his schedule.
Calhoun however, didn't play on campus,
He played in arenas, so he tried to move the games at UMass,
off campus and to the Springfield Civic Center.
Calipari wouldn't budge, so Calhoun shut it down.
The two New England teams that first played in 1905,
would play each other no more.
In the time the teams spent apart, something changed.
UMass got good, like really good.
At the end of that '89 '90 season,
UMass made the NIT for the first time in over ten years.
And the following year they advanced to the semi finals,
before falling to Stanford.
In 1992 UMass defeated fourteenth ranked,
and undefeated Oklahoma on national tv.
[Announcer] Its over and the Minutemen are the winners.
- UMass had arrived, and in the driver seat
was Coach John Calipari.
That year the Minutemen won the eight ten conference
championship for the first time in school history,
they made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1962,
and advanced to the sweet six tee for the very first time,
before being eliminated at the hands of Rick Pitino,
and his Kentucky Wildcats.
UConn on the other hand was eliminated by Ohio State,
in the second round.
In an attempt to improve the following year,
Coach Calhoun and UConn hoped to add in state star,
Marcus Camby, but Camby looked past the team only 25 miles
away from his home in Hartford,
and instead packed his bags and headed to UMass,
much to the dismay of Calhoun.
At the same time coach Calipari had changed his tune
when it came to playing former rival UConn,
stating we're a top 25 program,
we don't need to play those games.
If UConn wants to play us they can get in touch with us.
The Minutemen where good, and Calipari was making
friends along the way, as evident in this exchange
with Temple coach John Chaney.
UMass went on to win the eight ten conference
championship again in 1994, but were eliminated from the
NCAA tournament in the second round.
They had reached their highest AP ranking that year
coming in at number six in January,
and followed that up the next season by becoming the first
team in New England to be given the number one ranking.
Jim Calhoun had never lived,
or worked outside of New England,
the region was a point of pride for him,
but the king, the king was now John Calipari.
Most people had expected Calipari to only last a few years
at UMass before moving on to greener pastures.
Instead Calipari plowed the dirt,
and grew his own damn grass,
making the rest of the Northeast basketball world
green with envy.
In the words of Jim Calhoun, why should he leave?
He makes more money than I do.
It was clear that tension between the two coaches
was growing even though they no longer met on the court.
In 1995 shortly before the start of a NCAA tournament,
that would feature both teams as two seeds,
John Calipari's coaches show cohost displayed a shirt
aimed at UConns unwillingness to play them.
On the front: UMass refused to lose,
on the back the outline of the state of Connecticut,
and the words UScared, what's your excuse
for not playing this year?
Because even though both coaches have already expressed
a lack of desire to play each other,
they still prodded each other over it.
As for the tournament, both teams advanced
to the elite eight before being bounced.
And no, those shirts never hit the shelves.
Like two pre teens they went back and forth between who did,
and who didn't want to dance.
Towards the end of '95 Calipari said,
maybe we don't have anything to gain.
Calhoun noted that it was John
who originally wanted the game.
It was anywhere anytime, and when he gave Calipari a time
and a place, according to Calhoun,
Calipari took a step back.
Calipari also said he did not want to be the one to
coax UConn to play them,
adding we will play anybody, anywhere.
Jesus Christ, just kiss already.
In 1996 UMass made the final four for the first time,
in school history.
An achievement that would later be vacated,
after reports that star, Marcus Camby,
had received gifts from an agent.
Calipari took that opportunity to point out that
UConn star Ray Allen probably did the same.
It was a great time to renew the rivalry.
Fans had been clamoring to see these two teams play.
So UMass and UConn agreed to a four year deal.
The agreement was announced six years after the last time
the two teams played each other,
and hours after John Calipari accepted the head coaching
job with the New Jersey Nets.
On December 27 UConn defeated Bruser Flints UMass team
64 61 While John Calipari and the Nets defeated
the Indiana Pacers.
UConn continued to be a successful program under Calhoun,
and in 1998 when he was asked about his teams dominance
over New England basketball, Calhoun was incapable of
leaving Calipari out of his answer.
In a bid to paint himself as a true New Englander,
and Calipari as an outsider, he claimed the former UMass
coach never said cah in his life.
He used to have an r, I don't have any r's at all.
That proves that I belong here.
This beef is more of a chowder, a beef chowder.
Eaten with your hands out of the center console,
of a Honda Civic, its a Patriots vanity play that just says,
*beep* kill me.
While we digest lets skip forward to 2009,
and talk dollars and cents.
[Interviewer] Considering that you’re the highest paid
state employee and there's a billion dollar budget deficit,
[Calhoun] Not a dime back.
[Interviewer] Not a dime back.
[Calhoun] Not a dime back,
I'd like to be able to retire someday.
When the reporter referenced his one point six million
dollar paycheck, Calhoun's response was,
"I make a lot more than that",
before calling the reporter stupid
and telling him to shut up.
God Bless America.
When Calipari was asked a similar question,
as now Memphis Tigers head coach,
his response was a bit more palatable.
"We're obnoxiously paid."
Although I found no evidence that he then,
cut a check to the state.
Later that year Calhoun actually had some complimentary
words for Calipari's coaching.
Saying "I love the fact he puts his players in position
to succeed, I have great respect for how he coaches.
Then this next part, I just want to read it to you.
He said "John came from Moon Township in Pennsylvania.
He said UMass was king of New England.
He didn't know what chowda was with an A.
You gotta know what clam chowda is before you start
saying that, especially to a guy from South Boston."
So if you have not already picked this up,
Jim Calhoun is from New England.
Calipari's time in the NBA was
cut short due to a lack of success.
He then ended up back on the college level at Memphis,
where he spent almost ten years.
But all this sick chowda chatta,
came in a lead up to a match up between Calhoun,
and Calipari's new team, the Kentucky Wildcats.
Kentucky won 64 61.
It was the second win Calipari got over Calhoun,
the first coming in 2007 while at Memphis,
a game also played in the Garden.
After two decades of beef, their head to head record
was tied two two.
They may not have played each other very much,
but that didn't keep this steak from sizzlin'.
Like Sizzler, the steakhouse.
Heading into the 2011 NCAA tournament,
Calipari, unprompted, reeled off a list of teams
to Sports Illistrated, that he wouldn't watch,
if they were to progress further than his Wildcats.
On that list, of course, was Jim Calhoun's Huskies.
He was then quoted saying, "Are there times that there's
envy and jealousy in our profession and in me? Yes."
"Which is why I don't watch a lot of games."
But one of these coaches was going to have to watch the
other advance as the two met each other in the final four.
Calhoun referred to the other coaches left in the tournament
as my three sons, or my two sons plus my problem child.
And at this point, following a win at the Maui invitational,
Calhoun held a three two match up lead.
So if he wanted to be called daddy,
then daddy he shall be called.
He continued his winning ways as UConn toppled Kentucky,
56, 55 behind Kemba Walker's 18 points.
Admirably, neither coach took it as an opportunity to
sling mud at the other, Calipari sated,
"We had our chance to win the game, and as a coach,
that's all you can ask of these young people.
Calhoun turned his focus to the national championship.
The Huskies defeated Butler for their third crown,
all of which came under Coach Calhoun.
In 2012 Jim Calhoun announced his retirement,
and in his old age, seemed to soften a bit.
After calling Calipari a bullshitter in 2014,
he said he was a tolerable guy,
which in New England speak means I love you.
In the end we have two of the greatest
to ever coach the game.
They were territorial and had no intentions of
bowing down to anyone.
In 2015 John Calipari was inducted into the
basketball hall of fame, joining his pal Calhoun,
who had been enshrined since 2005.
Thanks for watching this episode of Beef History.
Check out the other episodes and then subscribe,
so you don't miss future Beef.
Its lab grown.