Thursday, August 20, 2009

Poor, Sweet, Innocent John Calipari

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, George Santayana

Alas, the tragedy...

For the second time in his career, poor, sweet, innocent, master strategist John Calipari will have a Final Four appearance stricken from the NCAA record books. It breaks my heart to see such a fine man have to suffer through this embarrassment again. Why do bad things happen to goodf people. My heart goes out to him and...

Enough with the sarcasm... Kentucky - if you weren't before - you're now officially on notice. This is what the man does. He shows up, pours a mean glass of kool-aid, blinds his potential detractors with tainted win after tainted win, then gets the hell outta Dodge before the poo hits the fan. He's very, very good at what he does. He's now the only coach to have two Final Fours stricken from official record books. This is of little surprise to me, having suggested its feasibility the day after their (now no-longer existent) game against Kansas.

Yes, I know Calipari wasn't implicated in the Memphis scandal, just I like I know he wasn't implicated in the UMass scandal either. Like I said, he's very, very good at what he does. He was a desperation hire by Memphis in 2000. The Tiger program needed a big pick-me-up after the Tic Price Experiment went horribly wrong. The fans were desperate to field a winner, so they sold their soul to bring in Calipari, despite the turmoil that UMass was mired in because of him. Memphis AD R.C. Johnson basically turned his back and served as Calipari's "yes man" for 10 years.

Sound familiar? The Wildcats are in need of a big pick-me-up after the Billy Gilispie experiment failed to pan out. Big Blue fans are desperate to field a winner and broke the bank to bring in Calipari. While there's no way Kentucky AD Mitch Barhart will bend over and take it from Calipari like Johnson did, he knows that Kentucky has to win and win big. Given Calipari's history, is there any reason to think this scenario plays out differently? I have no doubts that he'll win big at Kentucky, but at what cost to the university? Two schools have suffered due to his... ahem... oversights, why not a third?

I hope it doesn't work out that way. Kentucky is the flagship program in the SEC and one of the Royal 5 programs in the country (along with Indiana, North Carolina, Kansas, and UCLA). They serve as something of a barometer for the SEC as a whole. When they're mediocre, it weakens the SEC as a whole. But when they're winning, it greatly increases the national perception of the conference.

After such a pitiful showing last year, the SEC needs a big pick-me-up. Just not one that turns out to be such a bummer when you realize the dirty truth.

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