By LARRY VAUGHT
Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner was on John Calipari’s coaching staff at Memphis and planned to come to Kentucky with him before he got the head job at Memphis. However, he knows Calipari well and insisted again Saturday after his team’s 67-53 loss at Rupp Arena that Calipari will go into politics, not TV or anything else, when he eventually retires from coaching.
“He will go for politics and I really believe he’s going to run—he was going to possibly run for the President of the United States. And if not that, he’s going to go for governor or senator. He’s going to come up here and deny it, but mark my words …,” Pastner said.
“He has that charisma, he has that energy to do it, and he’s always been interested in it. And so, I’m telling you, when he does it—and he can deny it now—he will end up running for it. And I don’t know which part or anything like that, but he’s got that ability. He’s a genius marketer. He’s obviously a genius of a basketball coach—one of the greatest to ever do it. Regardless of sport, he’s one of the greatest coaches ever.
“It wouldn’t matter if he was running a slice-by-slice pizza place down the street. It would become a multimillion-dollar company. He just has something about that, that, you know, the ability to be very successful and he happened to choose basketball. And he would’ve been successful no matter what he does.”
Calipari got a taste of politics Saturday after the game because U.S. ambassador Kelly Craft of Kentucky had the United Nations Security Council at the UK-Georgia Tech game for a weekend trip. Craft’s husband, Joe, donated money for both the UK basketball and football training facilities.
Craft not only wore a UK shirt but she had the various ambassadors from other countries also decked out in UK gear. Several of the ambassadors told me as they were walking to center court after the game to get a picture with Calipari about how much they enjoyed the game.
Calipari made a point on the postgame podium — just as Pastner forecast — that he would not run for president because he was also a citizen of Italy and dual citizens could not run for president. However, he did ask the ambassador from England about the possibility of meeting the Queen of England next season when UK plays Michigan in London. She told him the Queen actually had horses in Kentucky at Lane’s End Farm.
Of course, Calipari laughed and admitted she likely would not even know who he was — but does anyone doubt that about a year from now that Calipari will get an audience with the Queen of England in London.
He exchanged laughs and talk with several ambassadors at midcourt after the game while fans waited for him to finally join Tom Leach for his postgame radio show.