Kentucky basketball Coach John Calipari appeared briefly on yesterday’s “Pardon the Interruption”, an ESPN show hosted by Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon.
Kornheiser and Wilbon gushed over Calipari like a couple of school girls, treating him like the college basketball icon he is not.
If either of these two former reporters had any cojones they would have asked Coach Calipari to defend his one-and-done strategy that is slowly ruining college basketball by watering down the level of talent on the court.
Even better, they could have inquired about Calipari’s recruiting successes. I especially would have enjoyed hearing the coach explain how in his first three years on the job he signed 8 McDonald’s All-Americans – the same number that his predecessors signed over the previous 11 years!
Now, I know that people in Kentucky like their round ball – the slew of home-knitted blue sweaters in Stegeman on Tuesday were a dead give away. I’m also aware that the Cats have a history of playing competitive basketball.
But the way that Coach Calipari has turned UK into its own little NBA factory in three years is pretty amazing.
How could he elevate a program so quickly?
I know he had problems at his previous job – Memphis – in which some players may or may not have been playing eligibly. Coach Cal skirted out of town before Derrick Rose landed in Chicago.
I also remember him having some issues at UMASS – something about Marcus Camby receiving improper benefits around the time (1996) when the Minutemen were heading to the Final Four? If you don’t recall this scandal, Bobby Knight brought it up at his Hall of Fame induction speech.
Calipari scooted out of town before the fire actually started, leaving another program to fend for itself amongst a sea of NCAA accusations.
In March of 2010, Slate Magazine labeled Calipari the “sleaziest coach” in college basketball, and I couldn’t agree more.
Whatever successes the Cats enjoy under Calipari will surely be vacated shortly thereafter, and I would not be at all surprised to see this program hit with some serious NCAA sanctions (soon). The inflow of McD’s All-Americans just doesn’t add up – or, it does add up if you look at the history of the man bringing them into the school.
Another prediction – Calipari will be long gone while Kentucky weather’s the NCAA storm.