John Calipari has a national championship ring and regularly brings in top-ranked recruiting classes at Kentucky. But his record as a coach is still lacking in one area of personal significance: His head-to-head record with Bob Huggins is just 4-8. That has not stopped Calipari from maintaining a close friendship with the West Virginia coach who he’s competed with over the years, though.
“You’re like my big brother,” Calipari told Huggins in an episode of CBS Sports Connected that will air Thursday at 7 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network. (Download the CBS Sports app to watch on your mobile device.)
Of course, the moment was blanketed in a sense of sarcasm after Huggins suggested that Calipari was only growing a beard to be like Higgins.
“Your whole life, you wanted to be just like me,” Huggins said.
In the episode, the two legendary college basketball coaches share tales from the years of their friendly rivalry, which intensified in the early 2000s when Calipari and Huggins faced off regularly while coaching in Conference USA at Memphis and Cincinnati, respectively.
Huggins even recalled his ambulance ride after a 2002 heart attack. As the story goes, one of the first responders was Calipari’s cousin and told Huggins, “I can’t let you die until he beats you at least once.”
All four of Calipari’s victories in their head-to-head series have come in the years since. The two last met in 2018 when Kentucky beat West Virginia 83-76 on the road.