Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are. -John WoodenThis is not intended as a full comparison, just in terms of public perception. Coach Wooden unfortunately passed away over the weekend, and is remembered, correctly, as being not only a tremendous coach, but also a tremendous man. He was a man who valued winning and teaching, but a man who also turned a blind eye at various points during his life. Contrast the way Coach Wooden is perceived and the way Coach Cal is perceived and it night and day.
After both coaches left schools, their teams were placed on probation. Last week, Calipari and his wife donated $1 million to a charitable organization in Memphis and within minutes the internet was alive with jokes and snide remarks about why he would be donating. While Coach Calipari may operate in greys area from time to time, he's never given the benefit of the doubt. Not by the media or the public. When Terrence Jones de-committed from Washington people (myself included) assumed Calipari had done something underhanded. He remained quiet and only after Jones committed did he tell his side of the story. His version stands in stark contrast to the assumptions made by many, but also made perfect sense.
Then he (Jones) called about an hour later and said ‘Cal, I made a mistake. I don’t know what I was doing.’ That is when the thing went like ‘You what?’ So we talked to him and said that we are going to do whatever you want. I am holding your scholarship. At one point I said, ‘Look, if you want to go to Washington then go to Washington, and if you want to come with us, come with us. Just make a decision so that we can all move on.’ (WKYT)Perhaps a victim of the time, people are constantly looking to attach scandal to Calipari, but many of those same people sought to deflect any criticism of Coach Wooden. He was voted the best coach of the century, while Cal is regarded by some as ruining college basketball. No one would argue that college basketball would be better off without Coach Wooden as a part of its history, but a great many already have argued that way against Coach Cal. I've long been a critic of Calipari, but I'm also quite certain that if Coach Wooden was having his success in today's day and age, procuring top recruits from across the country (without some of them ever stepping foot on campus), that he too, would have jealous detractors crying foul.