Monday, March 30, 2009

say it isn't so

As I am sure all of you know by now, Coach John Calipari is in talks with the University of Kentucky about potential becoming their new basketball coach. Suicide hotline traffic all over Memphis has never been higher. It is unknown whether or not Coach Cal will make an announcement today or not about his future (or lack thereof) in Memphis. So I would like to tell all you faithful tiger fans why his leaving would not just be bad for us but also bad for Coach Cal.
We all know the main two reasons our beloved Coach Cal is considering a move to the inbred state that perches on top of our fine state; publicity and money. Kentucky has always been a powerhouse in college basketball. It is the winningest school in NCAA history and is second only to UCLA for NCAA National Titles. So even when Kentucky is blowing it; i.e. this year; we still see them on Sportscenter, hear about them on talk radio, and read about them in magazines as they fall clumsily into the NIT. But Calipari can be coaching the Memphis Tigers to another NCAA record setting season and only be featured as a footnote in Out Magazine.
And of course there is the money. The University of Memphis is....well....the University of Memphis. We haven't been a college dynasty that has had money poured into it for years and years to keep our reputation of athletic excellence alive and well. Now that is not to say that as of late this hasn't been happening. Because it most certainly has been happening as the city of Memphis has been going crazy for their tiger basketball program. But we have a long way to go to catch up to the money poured into Kentucky athletics over the years. So yes, I don't doubt that Kentucky can offer him more money. But if I can get on my soap box for a minute; how much money does one person need?! He is the second highest paid coach in the NCAA. He makes somewhere around 4 million a year from the school. That doesn't include his restaurant, appearances, and the gifts people give him because he is Calipari. I just want to warn our Coach; in the words of the Notorious BIG "Mo' money Mo' problems." Which brings me to Kentucky......
Obviously Calipari leaving us behind will hurt our future draftability (thanks Bud Light) and there is an excellent chance that the prospects he has already received a verbal commitment from will become wildcats instead of tigers. But Calipari leaving Memphis will hurt Calipari too. First of all he is loved here. I mean really loved here. He is creating a legacy in Memphis. No coach in Memphis history will be remembered like Coach Cal. No offense to Larry Finch or Dana Kirk. Coach Cal is an icon. Don't get me wrong he will be liked in Kentucky, maybe even loved but he will never become an icon in Kentucky like in Memphis.
Secondly think about basketball. He is guaranteed 25-30 wins a season while in the C-USA and will always make great runs for the Title as long as talent keeps flowing into Memphis. Which it has the past few years and will continue to; as made evident by next year's all star class that Memphis has lined up. Why leave that?! Even if we lose in the first round of the NCAA tourney or we miss the tourney and end up in the NIT no one is going to kill him! He is loved and he is trusted to bounce back or make adjustments in the off season to get them back in it next year. If Coach Cal goes in as the new guy and throws up 19 or 20 win seasons in a tougher conference than C-USA then not only will the fans being calling for his head, but Kentucky's powers that be will bounce him just like Gillispie!
Coach Calipari is a great college basketball coach. He has made it easy to be a tiger fan lately. He has put Memphis on the map and brought in ridiculous talent. I truly believe that he has the capabilities to be successful anywhere. But Memphis is where he has the opportunity to be an icon (and win a heck of a lot of games and maybe a few championships in the meantime).
So Coach Cal, say it isn't so.


Anonymous said...

You make some very good points. Coach Cal could very well become an 'icon' Memphis. Not in Tennessee, right?

Coach Cal stated in his conference at Lexington that he was excited to have the opportunity to coach the 'commonwealth's' team. While fan loyalities are no doubt divided in TN between MSN, UT, Vandy, etc, etc...the vast majority of fans in KY are KY fans. People outside of the state do not understand the minority status the university of Louisville has in the state.

Yes, many people root for their regional schools, Murrey, Western, Eastern, etc but all follow UK basketball as well.

If John Calipari is a good coach, and he is...and if he were to do well at UK, which he will...and replace the pining of fans for the days of Little Rickie Pitino, which I believe he has already not the admiration and thanks of an entire state better to seek than the same of only a city?

After a long and successful career, why would anyone want to be a mayor, when they could be governor?

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