Fans and former Kentucky players react to reports that John Calipari’s leaving for Arkansas

If John Calipari’s deal to leave Kentucky for Arkansas is finalized, he will have left the Big Blue Nation and his former players with plenty of great memories, but also some lean times at the end.

The reaction to the news that UK will likely be in the hunt for a new coach drew both positive and negative reaction from the BBN, though many of his supporters acknowledged it’s time for a change for both parties.

Here’s a collection of some of the social media reaction via X (formerly known as Twitter) after the reports came in about Calipari’s probable change of scenery:

Jimmy Mahan (@KentuckyCards): “Most/all recruits will leave and go with Coach, but rebuilds work faster now, going to be a fun Spring and Summer to watch (I hope)… Also, no Calipari hate from me, he is a friend, and I’ve got a wonderful memory as we did that Pawn Stars episode together! He has always been kind and wonderful to my family, staff and myself. I wish we had a better stretch these last four years but as a man I absolutely wish him the best in all but one game. He brought us a LOT of joy during his tenure here and one day, just like Tubby, he will return here to visit to people thrilled to hang his name in the rafters. The change is probably good for all parties at this point but I have so much to thank Coach Cal for in these last 15 years. As For now I’m excited to see the path ahead, who will lead the ‘Cats next?!?”

Former UK football player Max Godby via X: “Built for March? Apparently all Calipari was doing in March was rebuilding his LinkedIn profile.”

Kendra Randle, wife of former UK basketball player Julius Randle: “4 years ago my grandmother was very sick in a small hospital in eastern KY. Julius called Coach Cal and asked if there was anyone he knew that could get her transferred to UK hospital. 15 mins later she was in a helicopter to UK and I still to this day believe he saved her life.”

Michael Paul Clark (@UKDad21 on X)‘s reaction to Kendra Randle’s post: “When the dust settles and things calm down, a majority of UK fans will remember Cal’s time for the great 10 year run and things like this off the court. I’m believing that.”

Former UK basketball player Chuck Hayes: “I think we will regret this departure. #BBN #ranhimOFF”

Wes Clark (@StephenWClark)‘s response to Chuck Hayes: “I hope not. I do like Cal. Rescued the program at a time when we needed it most. No way to be comfortable with the results of the last 4 years though.”

Nathan Schutter (@NateSchutter)‘s response to Chuck Hayes: “Why? The program has taken a nose dive past 5 years and he couldn’t correct it. I do think it will be great for Arkansas, but it’s also great for Kentucky.”

Kyle Randow (@allUKball): “This absolutely sucks. Losing a HOF coach, a top 2 recruiting class, most likely any of the high profile transfer portal guys. And we are going to start next season with Scott Drew as our coach. How many years before we look back and realize not supporting Cal was a mistake?”

Former Kentucky basketball player Nate Sestina: “I remember my visit to Kentucky and my dad shaking Coach Cal’s hand and grabbing his arm saying, “holy shit, you’re real!” And I really thought, “mannnn there goes my offer!” (laughing emoji) Cal’s expression was priceless. He laughed and winked at me. He knew what it meant for me and my family”

Former Kentucky basketball player Jonny David: “I appreciate all you have done for me, the University of Kentucky, and the whole state of Kentucky! You gave me an opportunity that changed my life! Forever grateful! Going to be weird seeing you in Red! Thank you @UKCoachCalipari!!”

David Johannemann (@djohannemann): “Do they get Drake also?”

Kentucky coach John Calipari yells to a referee during the Wildcats’ loss to Oakland in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 21.
Kentucky coach John Calipari yells to a referee during the Wildcats’ loss to Oakland in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 21.

Susan Kathleen (@SCTeachReading): I love Calipari too! Sadly the rabid fans drove him away. John’s players adore him - that speaks volumes.”

Chris Johnson (@chrisjo40312): “I think you can love Cal and also understand that recent results don’t live up to UK standards. A fresh start for both parties was probably warranted.”

Former Kentucky basketball player Łukasz Obrzut: “If departure of coach Cal is true. I would like to thank him for including and inviting all former players to related activities and events. All those moments were special to our family.”

truefan (@truefanjessica): “This guy asking how Arkansas is going to feel if Cal falls short of expectations? Brother, respectfully, we are Arkansas fans. We’ve lived through Pelphrey, Chad Morris, & Arkansas football since 2012 along with a dropped foul ball with two outs. We are already on life support.”

Former Kentucky basketball star Rex Chapman: “Cal has put an entire program on his back for 15 years. That’s a heavy lift. In the fight every day. Grinding. On the road. Recruiting. Working at it. Not all coaches work at it. He does. Lives and dies it.”