Calipari Gets Rich, Speed At UH

Bobby Curran
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Friday - April 08, 2009
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Last week’s hiring of John Calipari by the University of Kentucky has provided more questions than answers for college basketball. While the money is huge in a down economy - roughly $32 million over eight years, and in a state where the governor just took a 10 percent pay cut to just over $110,000, the acquisition tells you a lot about big-time college hoops.

Billy Gillispie was fired for allegedly not being the right fit; he was uncomfortable and aloof around some of UK’s biggest boosters, but that would have been overlooked if he’d won the SEC title and gotten the Wildcats back to the final four.

Instead, he became the first coach in UK history to suffer double-digit losses in his first two years and this season lost at home to Virginia Military Institute. While most UK fans acknowledge Gillispie as a good coach, he wasn’t what they wanted to lead their program. It seems that a UK head coach must not only win - fans drove Tubby Smith out, and he averaged 26 wins a year. The coach must be a salesman, schmoozer, media star and public speaker. Throw in a little prophet and some preacher, and now you’re talking.

In every way, John Calipari is the right guy. He’s a proven program builder, a born salesman, loves people and the limelight, he’s a masterful recruiter, handles the media beautifully and wins almost always.

It is as if all of his basketball experiences have led him to this job, a pressure cooker to be sure, but one that will require all of his polished skills.

If two of the Memphis recruits follow him to Lexington, look for Kentucky to win the SEC and get back to the Promised Land.

three star

UH Warrior spring football practice is heating up, and there are lots of jobs up for grabs. This may be the speediest group of receivers in a long time at UH, and the offense generally is way ahead of where it was this time last year. The defense will have nine new starters, but the conventional wisdom in football holds that its much easier to assemble a defense. An offense requires timing and cohesiveness, but if you can get 11 guys swarming to the ball, you can play defense.

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