MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A distinctive chorus of boos reigned down on Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari as he walked FedExForum's main court for the first time since he left the Memphis Tigers for Kentucky back in 2009.
He's since taken the Wildcats to three Final Fours and won a National Championship, while a U of M program he led to unprecedented success, has struggled missing the last three post seasons in a row.
Calipari's abrupt exit from Memphis has gotten him a lot of criticism from Tigers fans like Kisha Spencer.
"He's a traitor," Spencer said. "I really do not like Calipari."
Coach Cal put some closure on his parting ways with Memphis after the NCAA South Regionals open practice at FedExForum on Thursday.
"I had been talked to probably by six other universities during my time here," Calipari said. "Three had offered jobs and a couple I considered but Kentucky is one that you leave for. It just is."
Unlike Spencer, Tigers fan Josh Richter doesn't have any ill feelings towards Calipari.
"I know a lot of people in Memphis aren't real big fans of him," Richter said. "I do think we need to appreciate him as a coach. He brought something to the city that I don't think we could've had without him."
Calipari says playing in a power five conference lured him away from the U of M.
The power five advantage, if you've coached in any other league, is enormous," Calipari said. " You must play a non-conference schedule if you're a non power five that's off the chain. You must win every league game. You've got to scratch and claw and do whatever to be significant."
Calipari leads Kentucky against UCLA approximately 8:40 p.m. at FedExForum.