Editor's note: Over the past five weeks, we revealed the top 50 coaches in college basketball as decided by our ESPN Forecast panel. Today we unveil No. 2, Kentucky's John Calipari, and No. 1, Florida's Billy Donovan.
It was Oct. 18, 2013. Big Blue Madness. Like only they can, 24,000 Kentucky fans -- many of whom lined up for days before doors opened -- were packed in to Rupp Arena, crushed into seats and standing-room floor space. The ostensible purpose of this gathering was the usual Midnight Madness tradition: to celebrate the first practice of the 2013-14 season, to see the new Wildcats -- with a recruiting class hailed as the best since the Fab Five -- in action.
Instead, a political convention broke out.
In front of a giant concert stage, on a dais that jutted into the crowd, behind a clear glass podium fitted with transparent slate teleprompters, Kentucky coach John Calipari delivered what UK basketball's eventual news release would call a "state of the program speech." To describe it as grandiose would be an understatement.
"[Our fans are] a nation that stretches across 120 counties in Kentucky, all 50 states and to every country in the world," Calipari said. "We are borderless. We are everywhere. No corner is left untouched by the blue mist."
Having effectively juiced fans into a stupor, Calipari began speaking to recruits. Kentucky's biggest opponent, he said, was "ourselves."
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