Monday, March 30, 2009

Is John Calipari headed to Kentucky?

Two years ago, a lot of Kentucky fans were not interested in John Calipari becoming the next head coach of Kentucky basketball. Now, they are. Calipari has led his teams at Massachusetts and Memphis to a few final fours. He knows how to get the job done.

Memphis might have a strong program but remember, they play in a very weak conference. DePaul would have been better off staying in the Conference USA than Memphis.

Here's a take of what Calipari is risking if he decides to coach at Kentucky:
Does he want to be rich enough to buy a Caribbean island?

He can do that by staying at Memphis.

Does he want to win a national championship?

He can do that here, too.

Does he want to coach in front of sellout crowds, be celebrated as one of the most important figures in a city of a million and raise his son, Bradley, in an environment where the family is understood and embraced?

If Calipari wants all that, he should turn down the Kentucky job.

But does Calipari want to become a part of the gilded establishment? Does he yearn to transform his image from wildly successful ruffian to accomplished member of the mainstream?

Calipari can only do that at Kentucky. He can only do that by taking the job in Lexington and winning big.[...]

Would Calipari succeed in his first two years at Kentucky?

Yes, he probably would. He'd bring DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall -- two prize Memphis recruits -- along with him to Lexington. He'd try to persuade Kentucky's Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson to stay. If they came back, Kentucky would be ranked in the top five at the start of the year. As Calipari likes to say, it would be on like Donkey Kong.

The season would be interesting. Calipari has never been successful in an elite conference before. He won big in the Atlantic 10 at UMass. At Memphis, he didn't win a title until Louisville and Cincinnati left.

The SEC will never be confused with the Big East or the ACC, mind you. It was a downright hideous league this year. But winning at Florida, Arkansas and even Vanderbilt is harder than winning at SMU, Tulane and Rice.

So, absolutely, it's a risk. It's picking two in the bush over one in the hand.
Another article indicating Calipari is headed to Kentucky.
While Calipari did not say explicitly what he planned to do, players left the meeting convinced that Calipari would take the job. According to the source, Calipari told the team that Kentucky was the Notre Dame of basketball.

Meanwhile, reported Monday morning that Calipari met with Kentucky officials over the weekend to discuss an outline of a deal to replace Billy Gillispie.

A source told The Commercial Appeal on Sunday that Calipari had expressed interest in the job and could meet with Kentucky this week but that a meeting was “not definite.”

Memphis officials, according to multiple sources, had no direct knowledge of a meeting between Calipari and Kentucky if one indeed took place over the weekend. Kentucky still had not asked Memphis for formal permission to speak with Calipari as of 9:45 a.m., according to sports information director Lamar Chance.

Either way, Memphis is expected to make a strong bid to keep Calipari with a financial package that would make him the highest paid coach in basketball, according to another source.
It doesn't matter what money that Memphis might be offering. It's Kentucky. It's one of the top basketball programs in the nation.

Andy Katz writes on the matter.
Calipari met with Kentucky officials on Sunday at an undisclosed location, at which time he was given an outline on the length of a deal and contract dollars to succeed Billy Gillispie, the source said.

But more than the money, Calipari has to decide if he wants to leave a program in Memphis that he has transformed into a national championship contender for one of the most tradition-rich programs in the sport that has recently fallen upon hard times.

Calipari's top recruit, DeMarcus Cousins, has made an oral commitment to Memphis, but because national letters of intent do not have to be signed until next month, Cousins could easily follow Calipari to Kentucky if he were to become the Wildcats' coach.

Calipari has a longstanding rivalry with Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who coached Kentucky to a national championship in 1996, and would have the opportunity to go head to head with him within the borders of a state that considers college basketball to be the national pastime.[...]

Calipari, 252-69 in nine seasons at Memphis and 445-140 overall, was named the Sports Illustrated coach of the year before the start of the NCAA tournament, the first time he received SI's award. Calipari was the Naismith coach of the year last season, joining Duke's Mike Krzyzewski as the only coaches to be named twice to the award since its inception in 1987.

Calipari went 193-71 in eight seasons at Massachusetts from 1988 to 1996, culminating with an Elite Eight appearance in '95 and a trip to the Final Four in '96.

Calipari, a graduate of Clarion State (Pa.) in 1982, also coached the NBA's New Jersey Nets from 1996-98, going 72-112 before his ouster early in the 1998-99 season.

No comments: