Master Procrastinator

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John Calipari to Kentucky?

Posted by Andrew Zercie on March 28, 2009

I understand the disappointment many in the Bluegrass State are feeling. The SEC was the weakest major conference this season, and Kentucky had to stand out in order to earn an at-large bid to the Tournament this year.

At one point, Kentucky was 16-4, and 5-0 in SEC games, seemingly on their way to The Dance. Then, the bottom dropped out. Kentucky went 3-8 the rest of the regular season and 1-1 in the SEC Tournament.

Despite two wins over Tennessee that flashed Kentucky’s potential, the team lost too many games against teams they had no business losing to (Georgia, Mississippi). Ability-wise, Kentucky couldn’t separate themselves from South Carolina, Florida or Vanderbilt, all NIT teams.

I can understand the idea that Billy Gillispie was not the coach that the Kentucky administration, the players, the boosters and the fans thought he would be. There really is no excuse for a “bubble team” to lose to a team that is 3-13 in conference play, as Georgia was. If poor performance is the reason to terminate Gillispie’s contract, I can understand.

Apparently though, the bigger issue that Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart had with Gillispie was his inability to connect with his team, the boosters, the fans, and anyone else who bleeds blue and attends games at Rupp the way churchgoers go to Mass.

When job performance isn’t the primary reason for a firing, something fishy is going on. Perhaps the writing was on the wall for Billy Gillispie when he agreed to take the reins in the spring of 2007, but then never signed a contract. While it has been written that Gillispie made that decision, I find that hard to believe. 

Barnhart stated yesterday that Kentucky is not obligated to pay Gillispie a $6M buyout because the contract was never signed. Gillispie not putting pen to paper sure looks good for the university now.

Speculation has already begun as to who the university is targeting next. If they don’t wind up with a big-name, Final Four-tested coach, and instead go the up-and-comer route as they did with Gillispie two years ago, it will be a mistake. Clearly, it takes a media-savvy, well-connected, smooth-talking coach who stays one leg up on the competition in recruiting.

With a description like that, there’s only one name to consider. John Calipari.

As a program, Memphis has peaked. Short of winning a national championship, there is little else Calipari can do there, and it is a difficult task to consistently re-load to achieve that goal when the program’s best players leave after one year for the NBA.

Memphis has some tradition, and Calipari has done a nice job restoring the luster to that program. The Tigers have been the dominant team in Conference USA for several years and has been to the Sweet 16 four straight years.

Does a player such as Derrick Rose or Tyreke Evans even entertain the thought of going to Memphis five years ago? John Calipari made Memphis relevant again. He has everything Kentucky is looking for.

And Kentucky has everything Calipari is looking for, too. They play in a major conference and have a national following. Kentucky draws recruits from anywhere in the country. Additionally, Kentucky produces more revenue and has more resources than Memphis.

If Kentucky makes the right call, pursues Calipari, and winds up hiring him, they return to the national spotlight.

If Calipari is offered the job, takes it, and finally wins a NCAA Championship with the Wildcats, it could catapult him into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

It’s almost too good to be true. Make it happen!

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15 Responses to “John Calipari to Kentucky?”

  1. T1G3R said

    Memphis has actually been to the Sweet 16 FOUR years (including the 08-09 season) in a row, not three as you mistakenly point out in your article.

  2. az0610 said

    Good call. Fixed. Thanks for reading.

  3. mairving said

    If Calipari is offered the job, takes it, and finally wins a NCAA Championship with the Wildcats, it could catapult him into the Basketball Hall of Fame

    Would he get into the Hall of Fame or be fired like Tubby Smith and Joe B Hall did after winning a championship? I am voting on the firing. Doesn’t matter he’s not go to Kentucky, Arizona, Georgia, St. John’s or any other program. Maybe if Memphis were having a bad year or if the cupboard was bare at Memphis. Neither of which is happening.

  4. mptyler said

    Calipari already said He does not want to go anywhere, and Memphis is where he wants to coach. Sorry Kentucky, you cant just expect coaches that already make mega bucks and have a pretty sweet deal to jump on a job where the insane fan base and demanding boosters have already run off 2 good coaches in a 3 year period. Keep dreaming.

  5. Diana Smith said

    Cal said in a media interview yesterday when asked about the Kentucky job, “NO” Memphis “is where I want to coach.” The university is also working on sweetening his compensation package which is already one of the best in the country. Here’s the story.

    http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2009/mar/27/john-calipari-insists-memphis-where-i-want-coach/

  6. T-I-G-E-R-S said

    peaked? if you forgot, calipari has the number one recruiting class of all time coming in this year. john wall is likely signing with memphis to go along with demarcus cousins and xavier henry

  7. jp said

    Calipari is slimy. He is a violation-a-week dirty recruiter who doesn’t seem to care about any facet of college except prepping NBA players. If he belongs anywhere, its the NBA. Something is going wrong when all these top recruits would rather go to the murder capital of the USA to play hoops than to the other great programs around the country. If the Kentucky AD is smart, which obviously he is not, he would stay away from this coach like he is the plague.

  8. jammaster said

    All our best players leave after one year?!? Yes, Rose and (likely) Evans left after one year, but they are extreme talents who would have gone to the NBA from high school if not for the age requirement. Have you not heard of Robert Dozier and Antonio Anderson, the winningest SENIORS in college basketball history? CDR, who stayed around for 3 years? Don’t worry, Calipari will continue to get his share of long-term players along with the one-and-done elite level players needed to compete at the high level we’re used to.

  9. az0610 said

    I appreciate all the feedback, folks.

    As to whether or not Calipari stays at Memphis, judging from the article that was linked, it will come down to how much money Kentucky (or someone else) offers.

  10. penredwing said

    JP, the murder capital of the United States??? good job there, it is definitely detroit…way to try to slam memphis. Calipari isnt going anywhere. He is already among the top paid coaches in the NCAA. If Kentucky wanted to, they would have to put out football salary. Oh and one more big thing…does the #1 recruiting class of ALL TIME matter? Yes, calipari wont want to leave with wall henry and cousins coming in…he would be crazy to leave!!!!

  11. BigBlueFan said

    Let’s get this straight people, Tubby and Hall were not fired. They were not run out of town. They quit, plain and simple. Please get your facts straight.

  12. Katmanblu said

    Sorry Memphis Fans, Memphis will never be an Elite program, have the same tradition or fan support as UK, and top notch facilities that go with a basketball power. Coach Cal wants to be at one of the top programs in the country and be able to win multiple titles, therefore…UK is the place for Coach Cal to be!

  13. blueberry said

    katman, you want what is ours but you are the elite? Funny. Our facilities are excellent and home games are always sold out. 4 straight sweet sixteens. what a crappy program

  14. Great article, I just wanted to let you know I linked it on my site.http://bayourant.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=other&action=display&thread=83

  15. deeds777 said

    mptyler. no dreaming needed. this is uk bball. we got calipari. u got it wrong.

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