It goes without saying, at this point, that the hire by Mitch Barnhart to be UK’s next Head football coach, could define his legacy. Fair or not, in this “what have you done for me lately” society, that’s how things are perceived and he is acutely aware of this. I’ve not been a fan of how Barnhart has handled the football program from facilities upgrades to coaching upgrades. He hasn’t shown any regard for making the football program “look” SEC caliber. But lost in all the negativity thrown toward Mitch, let’s take a step back and evaluate using another metric. Follow me here…
Mitch Barnhart has the opportunity, with the proper hire for the Head Football Coach, to make the University of Kentucky one of the very, very few athletic departments with a Trinity of Excellence.
Agree? No? I don’t care really, but let’s work on convincing you anyway.
Head of the Trinity: John Calipari
Over four very short seasons, John Calipari has not only changed the culture of the program left in shambles by Billy Gillispie, but has returned, and even surpassed its recent former glory by going to the Elite 8, Final Four and hanging Banner #8 in his first three seasons. Not to mention the four straight #1 recruiting classes, soon to be 5, and the nearly 20 instant millionaires he made via the NBA Draft or the player building he did that enabled Daniel Orton, Jorts, and DeAndre Liggins to get drafted. That, my friends, is nothing short of spectacular on its own. Calipari only topes getting those 3 drafted by getting Polson drafted too but if you use IU Head Coach, Tom Crean’s logic on Bobby Hulls, Polson is already there. Thankfully Fred Flintstone lives a little further North. For those egg heads who want empirical proof of the King of the Commonwealth, see below, and his reign of terror on CBB:
Kentucky Wildcats Head Men’s Basketball Coach-John Calipari
2009-10 Kentucky 35-3 .921 SEC Champ (R/T); NCAA Reg. Finals
2010-11 Kentucky 29-9 .763 SEC Champ (T); NCAA Final Four
2011-12 Kentucky 38-2 .950 SEC Champ (R); NCAA Champions
15 NBA Draftees
11 First Rounders
Two #1 Overall Draft Picks
Total Record as a Head Coach at Kentucky 104-15 (87.39%)
And to top of it all, he consistently kicks Louisville’s ass Every. Single. Season. For an overall career observance, follow the UK Athletics site here. Calipari currently has the Cats 2-1 and ranked #8 in the AP poll. Though that is a little below what the grossly unreasonable fan base expects, we are the only team that didn’t return a starter from the prior season…and we came in ranked #3 in the preseason. Clearly there is not let up in this coach, team, or program.
Now let’s have a look-see at the second member of the Trinity: Kentucky Wildcats Head Women’s Basketball Coach Matthew Mitchell
Until 2002, the Women’s program was an afterthought even after the Football program which tells you all you need to know about how poor our Women’s basketball program has been. It was in 2002 when we hired Mickie DeMoss from Tennessee but after she abruptly resigned in 2006, Mitch made his best hire this side of John Calipari with Morehead Women’s Head Coach Matthew Mitchell. He was an up-and-comer who paid his dues from being a HS coach in Mississippi, to various Assistant Coaching positions before graduating from Morehead State to the University of Kentucky.
Kentucky Wildcats Head Women’s Basketball Coach Matthew Mitchell
2011-12 Kentucky Head Coach 28-7, 13-3 SEC
2010-11 Kentucky Head Coach 25-9, 11-5 SEC
2009-10 Kentucky Head Coach 28-8, 11-5 SEC
2008-09 Kentucky Head Coach 16-16, 5-9 SEC
2007-08 Kentucky Head Coach 17-16, 8-6 SEC
Total Record as a Head Coach at Kentucky 116-57 (67.05%)
This season has started out about as expected, with the highest ranking in school history at #6, though they got blasted by Baylor. He also has a committment from our highest ranked recruit in school history, #5, Linnae Harper for the 2013 class. Clearly the record and results are not that of Coach Cal, but compared to where he started, it’s equivocal.
Which brings us to the final, as yet unnamed member of the Trinity, the Head Football Coach. With this hire, Barnhart can seal his legacy, and create the best Trinity of Excellence in the nation. Not many schools have accomplished excellence in all three sports. Notre Dame (as much as it pains me to say) has, upon occasion, accomplished this, as have a select few other schools. Can UK join that group? With the right hire and facilities upgrades, I believe that we absolutely can.
A lot of names are being bandied about that
So, Big Blue Nation, I ask you, given all that you have before you, who would that Football Coach be? Who should he hire? Who’s the best available that we have a shot at?