Wednesday, April 1, 2009

John Calipari to Kentucky

The Kentucky Wildcats didn't go long without a head coach as they inked John Calapari to an 8 year 31.65 million dollar deal, making him the NCAA's highest paid head coach. This is something I go back and forth with all of the time. Is it right for a coach to just get up and leave his contract. Everyone bitched up a storm when Rich Rodriguez took the Michigan job, but I'm here to defend the two.

Coaches get into coaching to land that dream job and win a title. Michigan is one of those jobs in Rodriguez case. No knock on West Virginia, but that is a rich and storied program in Michigan. Michigan will always be Michigan and WVU will always be WVU. It's no knock on the program, but Michigan is a dream job for a coach.

The same goes for Calipari and the Kentucky job. It's Kentucky basketball. He had to take the job. I have no problem with it. It just happens so much that the NCAA has to regulate it somehow.

You can say it's not fair to the kids, but when the kids leave after 1 or 2 seasons, is that fair to the coach? Not at all. Calapari had landed 3 of the top 6 recruits in the nation while at Memphis. It is likely they all will follow him to Kentucky. If a player decided to transfer, he would have to sit out a year. Should the same apply to recruits? Should the same apply to coaches? The Memphis program will never be the same, while the Kentucky program just got revitalized.

I do feel bad in both cases for the kids that commit to a coach that suddenly hasn't committed to them, but only so much. They still have a free athletic scholarship and have a chance at a free education. The only rule I would consider implementing if I were the NCAA, would be to allow certain kids to transfer after a coaching change and waive the mandatory one year period to play. I would have this be a case by case situation though. With Rodriguez going to Michigan, I would have been more inclined to allow this because his offense doesn't suit every player.

With the Calipari situation I would be less inclined though. For all these guys that will play pro basketball, it won't be the first, nor will it be the last time they will go through a coaching change. It's life. deal with it.

Don't hate Calipari for taking the job. There are only so many Kentucky's out there. I applauded Ben Howland for taking the UCLA job and I do the same to Cal. The kids likely would have left him first anyway.


  1. Calipari can't really turn down that kind of money, so I can't blame him there. However, what happened to making your own mark on a program and taking it to greater heights? What was Duke before coach K got there? What was UNC before Dean Smith? Calipari is just following in the shadows of guys who have already won there. He will always be compared to them. Coaching at Memphis gave him a better chance to be his own guy and to create his own legacy.

  2. I disagree slightly with that. Kevin Garnett ruined all of that when he went right to the NBA. None of the guys you mentioned had to deal with that. Or had to risk losing players after 1 season. The coaching business has become so cut-throat. Coach K and Dean Smith never had to worry about anything except building their teams.
    Whats Memphis gonna do for Calipari? They play in C-USA. Getting them to become the Elite Proram they are is a feat, but winning a title at Kentucky is legendary for a coach.
    What would help out for coaches and maybe keep them put would be for the NCAA to adopt a rule keeping players in school for 3 seasons, similar to the MLB Draft. Go straight from high school or stick around til after the junior season.

  3. Yeah, good points, and I esp. agree with the last paragraph