Monday, March 30, 2009

The Rape and Pillage of the Memphis Tigers...

Coming off the plane from the Tigers Sweet Sixteen loss to Missouri, John Calipari told reporters... "I want to be here. This is where I want to coach."

And Memphis fans everywhere heave a sigh of relief.

What we should have been listening to was a few sentences later... "I'm so tired right now."

Sure, the guy is tired. It's been a whirlwind season... Probably one of the better seasons as far as John Calipari's coaching and his effort are concerned. But John Calipari wasn't talking about being tired. He wasn't talking about his feelings on the Sweet Sixteen. What John Calipari was truly talking about were the things he left unsaid...

"I'm not entirely committed to this program."

"I always have my eye on the next big prize."

"I will go down in NCAA history no matter who I must step on or over to do so."

As soon as I heard that initial Fox13 interview, dread welled up inside of me. When John Calipari said he wants to coach in Memphis, it sounded just like a star college athlete, fresh on the heels of losing the big game, who never directly addresses questions about declaring for the draft. John Calipari sounded just like the star who, right after losing the Super Bowl, is approaching free agency, but declines to comment on that after the big game.

What I really needed to hear as a Tiger fan is the message Gator fans across the nation received the day before... "In response to the rumors circulating about my interest in other jobs, I wanted to address this as quickly as possible. I am committed to the University of Florida and look forward to continuing to build our program here.” - Billy Donovan

Thank you, Billy Donovan. A man who has previously turned down big jobs, turned down the NBA, a man who is truly leading his players and fans. Thank you for being upfront, upright and direct.

We received no such response from John Calipari. Upon noticing that little sin of omission, my heart sank quite a bit.

John Calipari is a politician before he is a coach. Take what you will from that in regard to his coaching abilities. It has long been said that if he ran for mayor of Memphis, he'd win in a landslide. That's how John Calipari convinced Dajaun Wagner, Sean Banks, Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, and supposedly Xavier Henry, Demarcus Cousins and John Wall to join the gimpy Conference USA to play at the University of Memphis. That's how John Calipari scored air-time on major networks. That's how Nike, FedEx and pretty much the whole dad gum city of Memphis came to be Tiger faithful.

The greatest ability of a politician is positioning. Normally, I'd make a Kama Sutra joke here, but I'm too depressed. John Calipari has positioned his way into success, both for the University of Memphis and himself. Whether that success be wins, raises or recruits, John Calipari knows how to sell himself and sell the crew signing his paychecks.

John Calipari seems to get a raise each year, whether that be money, years, perks, concubines. I recently asked myself, "Where does it stop?" Why, Lexington, KY, of course.

I've heard several arguments on how John Calipari was able to get away. Some believe that Conference USA couldn't contain John Calipari any longer. Some say John Calipari is simply a money-grubbing whore who ripped out the heart of a city. It was hard to disagree with that once I learned that UK offered John Calipari a 8-year, $35 million dollar job (higher than most NBA coaches).

I am inclined to agree with the theory that John Calipari, at his most sincere, longs to be in the spotlight. John Calipari longs to be mainstream. He may have said it best himself when he told Fox13, "I'm so tired right now." John Calipari is tired of having to fight and claw his way onto ESPN, Fox's The Best Damn Sports Show, AP and USA Today polls, and the front pages of every sports related show and website in existence. John Calipari's ferocious ego has finally outgrown the city of Memphis. Now that he has pooped all over our pasture, John Calipari is moving on to more expansive lands. In Kentucky, there will be more than enough cud for John Calipari to chew on. I decided to go with the farmland analogy in honor of Kentucky. I don't know if there are farmers, pastures or cud in Kentucky, but I like to think so.

Sadly, John Calipari won't be going to Kentucky alone. He'll take most of his posse from here in Memphis. He'll take at least two current players, Roburt Sallie and Wesley Witherspoon, who've told friends they are transferring. He'll take most of the number one recruiting class of all time with him, a class that the city of Memphis has been buzzing about for months. Most importantly, he'll take the pride that he'd built with the people and in the city of Memphis, dash it on the asphalt, reckoning our program as nothing more than a stepping stone upon which he was able to elevate himself to the so-called basketball elite.

While we wait for the heart-breaking news conference, telling everyone what we already know and fear, I am grateful for what John Calipari has done while in Memphis. He has consistently talked about the great city of Memphis, the love for the Tigers, and how much the city needs the Tigers to represent them. He has always been a strong proponent of all things Memphis and worked to be accepted by the community, rather than just coaching basketball. Based on that fact alone, his accomplishments and constant good-will toward the city are completely overcast by the manner in which John Calipari is leaving. He is treading on the name and image that he tried so hard to raise up, mocking Memphis for the sake of elevating himself to NCAA elitism. Regardless of the good times, John Calipari's exodus is filthy and despicable. For Memphis fans all around, today is the day Coach Cal becomes nothing more than John Calipari.


Grant said...

My sentiments exactly. The only light at the end of this tunnel is Mike Anderson.
Also does anyone think X will be let out of his letter of intent?

JB said...

X signed, so he's have to be granted a release, I believe.

Jason said...

True, X did sign, but if there's a problem at all his parents will Lawyer up and get him released.

No one's realized for the past 5 years or so that Cal is Memphis, the players are here for him, they stay at Memphis long enough to go to the NBA, wether that be one year or four, the only thing going through a young, black, talented, athletes mind is money. And all of Memphis was so in love with winning that no one caught the power plays Cal was weaving for his big move. He had to have something to do with the MLGW deal falling through a few years back, because he knew he'd need local utilities to power this kind of of an ego boost.

It's all about money in Memphis, Cal is no exception. It even mentions in numerous articles that I've read that Cal was disappointed when he wasn't considered for the KY job two years ago... He played his cards just close enough for no one to notice he was holding a royal, stab-you-in-the-back, flush with this deal. The fact that it only took one talk with KY and Cal is telling his players that he's gone proves it.

The bad part is that I'm now torn or whether to hate Kentucky or root for them, Those will still be our players in my book next year... And that won't be my coach.

I'll also mention, that by some untold sign my word verification for this comment was "lyhir" which phonetically is pronounced "LIAR" How fitting for Coach Cal

JB said...

I feel your pain and understand your quandary. Calipari did about as quick a 180 as any coach I'd ever seen. It's a real shame.

DG said...

The dismemberment of my beloved Tigers begins. Hopefully, we can maintain some sense of credibility with Mike Anderson. The whole Tony Barbee threat is surprising to hear, but has not yet been substantiated. I don't want some guy from UTEP as our coach

MTiger said...

What's the true meaning of a fan? Someone who roots for a team? No, it goes much deeper than that. Fans, from those of us who know about such things, are people of all ages, sexes and backgrounds who always think the best of and hope the best for their programs, players and coaches. And, under that definition, a whole lot of us qualify.

So, when Derrick Rose informed the media that he wished to be introduced as being from Chicago instead of from the college he attended like all the other players are, that didn't really sit well, and I'm guessing more than a few of us lost a tiny bit of our enthusiasm for him as a person. Why? Because that's not what you expect from someone when you've always thought the best of and hoped the best for them.

But it's the nature of the beast. When you think only the best of someone who is human and, therefore, a long way from being perfect, you are required to overlook the other stuff that is, how shall I put this, somewhat less than perfect, and maybe even defend them in relation to it.

It's not like Cal is all of a sudden a different person. He just no longer has us as fans, and that makes anybody, all of a sudden, look a lot worse.

JB said...

I'm not sure about the driving force of your post, but it goes much deeper than us no longer being fans of Cal. It's that he has been preaching about his passion for turning Memphis into an elite program, then turns at a moment's notice to be part of what was once Kentucky.

His ego is telling him to go be a part of something great at UK, when he's been telling the people of Memphis that the Tigers can be that great team. Does that make him a liar? In the hearts of many Tiger fans, yes. He's given up. Not only that, he's taking the team with him.

Grant said...

Taking the team with him is the hardest part for me to deal with. Spoon and Sallie and our prospects leaving us is devastating.

Anonymous said...

It's time to let Coach Cal go...yes he lied to us, but apparently he has been living with this for the past 2 years...he was using Memphis to make a name for himself. Now it is time for us to get behind the U of M and our future new Coach..Memphis is a great city with diversity and a never give up never give in attitude. We will rise again...after all "WE ARE MEMPHIS..WE ARE THE TIGERS!"

Anonymous said...

Look, more than a month later and, witherspoon and sallie aren't leaving, pastner kept will coleman, and has 2 top recruits interested in Memphis. GO TIGERS!

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