(h/t to L4B for Calipari’s new nickname… but, um, will it stick?)
John Calipari Headed to Lexington. Officially. What does this hire by Kentucky (at a reported $5M+ per year) do? It makes the Wildcat program nationally relevant again. Instantly. With a single stroke of the pen (still pending), every major recruit from 9th to 11th grade (and several in the 12th) who has visions of wearing a hideous suit to meet David Stern on Draft Day suddenly has Kentucky back on their radar screens. At the McD’s game practice today, Xavier Henry has already made it clear that his recruitment is open “to everybody and anybody.” Another Memphis commitment, DeMarcus Cousins, may feel the same way, and who knows where this leaves John Wall (a strong Memphis lean)? With arguably the strongest recruiter this side of Roy Williams and Ben Howland vacuuming up numerous kids with serious dreams of the L, and the commitment to resources that a school like UK brings to basketball, is there any doubt whatsoever that The Squid will have the Cats hunting for Final Fours again very soon? The pressure to win and win big will be gargantuan, but Calipari is one of the few coaches with enough ego to handle it.
Coach, this is Jeff from down in Hyden. Now, about the team’s free throws…
Domino, Motha____ers! And like Doughboy so eloquently stated in BnTH, the dominoes are already falling elsewhere. Georgia reportedly offered over $2M per year to Missouri’s Mike Anderson (although others dispute that) to take over the chronically underachieving Bulldog program, but now there is chatter that Anderson might have an interest in the newly-opened Memphis position. Update: Anderson is staying at Mizzou for a payday nearly doubling his annual salary. Some other names being thrown around for the Memphis job are Tony Barbee from UTEP (former Calipari assistant) and even former Arkansas Razorback coach Nolan Richardson, who regularly mined the playgrounds of Memphis for his stellar 40MoH teams. Whoever takes over this job, a top 20 destination, will be without the services of Tyreke Evans, who also announced his decision to go pro today.
The Other Ego in Kentucky. Louisville figures to be impacted heavily by the arrival of Calipari at Kentucky, if for no other reason than to escalate a rivalry between coaches that goes back to the early 90s and into the NBA (Celtics vs. Nets). Can you believe that two titans of ego coaching such as Pitino and Calipari – both hot-blooded Italians – will be battling for bragging rights in the same basketball-nutty state? Still, if you believe in rumors that won’t die, there is speculation that Rick Pitino is a legitimate candidate for the open Arizona job, vacated by Lute Olson and seat-warmed by Russ Pennell this year. Seth Davis wrote today that he doesn’t believe this rumor for a second, and neither do we, but we could definitely see the other name mentioned for this job, Gonzaga’s Mark Few, getting into the mix down in the desert.
Final Question. It’s not like Billy Gillipie was completely shamed out of Lexington, although it certainly played out so. Still, the guy has a relatively strong coaching resume, and unlike some other epic failures at regal programs (Matt Doherty at UNC; Steve Lavin at UCLA), he’s proven that he can build a program and recruit players to fill those spots. So where will Billy Clyde end up? You have to figure that he’ll be back in coaching next year, and if you saw his interview on ESPN with Jimmy Dykes yesterday, it was painfully apparent that he’s angling for another position with the ‘aw shucks’ persona. Just so long as he doesn’t have to give any advice, cuz, you know, he’s not an advice-giver.
Dykes: Do you think not signing a 30-page contract is gonna affect what you feel is fair to you at this point?
Gillispie: Oh, I have no idea. I mean, I think it’s all gonna work out fine, and I’ve never been involved with too many things that didn’t.
Dykes: What advice would you give to John Calipari if the deal goes down?
Gillispie: I’m not an advice-giver. I heard a long time ago, “The worst advice is bad advice … or giving advice.” And so, I don’t really have a whole lot of advice.