Sidelines with John Clay

New Alabama basketball coach once called John Calipari a whiner

Could be some more fun times ahead for Southeastern Conference basketball now that Alabama has tapped Buffalo’s Nate Oats to replace Avery Johnson as the Crimson Tide’s new coach.

If you remember, Oats and UK’s John Calipari have a little bit of a history.

After Buffalo whipped Arizona in the round of 64 of the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in Boise, Idaho, Oats told some reporters that he was tired of hearing Calipari “whining about having no experience, young, young, young.”

“I don’t know if it’s whining or telling the truth,” said Calipari when asked about the remark. “I’m not whining about it. I’ve got a pretty good team.”

Before the two teams played in the round of 32 in Boise, Oats went to Calipari and apologized.

“I’ll tell you this, I apologized to him before the game,” Oats said. “ I used the word “whining,” that’s a bad word choice of him talking about their youth all year. I don’t know why I chose that word. Big Blue Nation certainly let me know about it, don’t want to get them mad, they’re tweeting all day long.

“I apologized to him. He said he didn’t take it the wrong way. I’ve got a ton of respect for him. Used to go to his program in Memphis, we ran the dribble-drive at Romulus, basically because of what he did at Memphis. We had a good talk before the game.”

Kentucky went out and crushed the Bulls 95-75.

Alabama AD Greg Byrne, Mitch Barnhart’s former lieutenant at Kentucky, has been almost universally praised for his hire of Oats, who did a fantastic job at Buffalo, a Mid-American Conference school that was awarded a No. 6 seed in this year’s tournament. The Bulls lost to Texas Tech 78-58 in the round of 32.

A former high school coach in Michigan, Oats went 96-43 in four seasons at Buffalo. Three of his four teams made the NCAA Tournament. This year’s team finished 32-4.

Even Auburn Athletic Director Allan Greene tweeted congrats to the Tide. That’s right, the Auburn AD congratulated the Alabama AD. But then Greene was previously Oats’ boss at Buffalo.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader