Monday, March 30, 2009

John Calipari, Your New Job Is Waiting

I know, I know, I know. I said I would try to stay out of this UK coaching situation madness, but I can't help it. I'm too tied to too many of the people involved to completely leave it alone. Plus, so many of my friends keep bugging me for information that I figured it would just be easier writing it here instead of responding to each and every phone call, text message and e-mail.

So here's what I know as of right now. John Calipari woke up this morning convinced that he was going to take the job at UK. After his intermediaries discussed some specifics (namely potential salary and contract length) with some Kentucky intermediaries, both sides felt they had an agreement in principle. It would then be just a matter of fine tuning some language in the contract and Calipari informing University of Memphis officials, as well as his players, of his decision to leave.

And barring something drastic, I do believe Calipari will officially accept UK's offer within the next 24 hours. Memphis AD R.C. Johnson has formally granted Kentucky permission to speak to Calipari, which means now Mitch Barnhart can have actually offer him the job.

However, Memphis is not going down without a fight. Calipari has that town eating out of his hand, and they don't want to lose him. As crazy as UK fans are about the Wildcats, Memphis fans are just as nuts about the Tigers. The only difference is the sheer number of fans who root for UK compared to Memphis.

Calipari met today with Johnson and some of the program's biggest boosters. Their intent was to convince Calipari to stay in Memphis, and they were prepared to renegotiate his contract yet again to help him make up his mind.

Calipari's intention for the meeting was two-fold. First, he wanted to explain his reasoning for accepting the UK job even though the Tigers have been a much more successful program over the last few years. Secondly, he wanted to lobby for his former assistant Tony Barbee (currently the head coach at UTEP) to replace him in Memphis.

Now, as I said earlier, barring something drastic, I do think Calipari will become UK's next head coach by the end of the business on Tuesday. But that something drastic could be a serious counter-offer to what UK is offering, although Memphis will never be able to match Kentucky dollar for dollar.

There is also one other small issue that might play into Calipari's final decision: Recruiting! As many of you probably know, he has commitments from two of the top 10 players in the country, and a third (John Wall) is said to be leaning towards Memphis as well.

The problem Calipari is facing is that he much prefers his recruits to the one's Billy Gillispie had been securing. And if you compare both recruiting classes player for player, you can't blame Calipari for wanting his guys to come to Lexington with him.

If Calipari was able to bring all of his recruits to UK next season, the Wildcats could very well make a run at the Final Four. That's how good Xavier Henry, DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall are considered to be.

One potential hang up regarding Henry though is that his brother is currently on the Memphis roster. He joined the team earlier this season, but did not play due to injuries. It was a common recruiting move. Sign one brother so you can sign the better one. That's why some people believe that Henry may not follow Calipari to Lexington.

So that's where everything stands as I sit here in this Cincinnati hotel typing this post. With the money that's been rumored to be sitting on the table and the opportunity to coach at one of true storied programs in all of sports, I just can't see Calipari not signing the contract at this point. But as we all know, until he does, anything can happen.

Isn't that right, Billy Donovan?


Anonymous said...

Let's get it done! We need Coach Cal.

Anonymous said...

Well said! Waiting on pins and needles with the rest of the big blue nation!