On Christmas Eve, USAToday posted an article stating that the University of Kentucky is the third hardest coaching job in all of sports. John Calipari appeared third only behind the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees and just ahead of New York Knicks, Manchester United, and Indiana (college football).
John Calipari has the hardest job in college basketball because while he might have hauled in arguably the most talented freshman class in history, he’s challenged with convincing a group of teenagers to gel and establish a cohesiveness needed to create championship chemistry. Bad habits die hard, and we’re seeing McDonald’s All-Americans who were used to being go-to players in high school tasked with reassessing their subconsciously selfish views and turning them into a selfless perspective. 40-0 was always an outrageous prediction, and now we’re seeing that the maturation process for even the most talented group takes time. - Scott Gleeson
These list pop-up now and then, and after hearing about it and then searching the internet and finding others, Cal (who never mentioned he was replying to this list in particular) took to CoachCal.com to give his account of the third hardest coaching job in sports.
Here are his top 4 reasons why it is an extremely hard job:
1.) You have a fan base that wants the program to be transparent and wants every bit of information it can find 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. There is no such thing as too much coverage or too much information for this fan base.
2.) Every game you play – at home or on the road – is someone else’s Super Bowl. It’s marked on their calendar before the season begins, so you must get your team ready emotionally, mentally and physically every time you walk out on that floor or you will lose. Every single game matters.
3.) To win, you have to recruit the best players in the country. Getting them is difficult enough because you’re going against the best programs in college basketball, but have you ever coached a McDonald’s All-American? Have you ever tried to get four or five of the top players in the country to share the ball, to think like a team and to sacrifice for each other? It’s one thing to have one or two good players and play through those two while everyone else sets screens, rebounds and defends; it’s another to try to get balanced scoring so everybody has their opportunities.
4.) The exposure can be daunting. Every single game we play is on national or regional television. The highlights are on SportsCenter. If we lose, we’re the story of the night. There’s no game you can take off, no place you can hide. You are also the white elephant for the media. When they write about Kentucky or its head coach, it gets eyeballs. If that means writing something negative or breaking a story to get readers, they are named the writer of the year by their brethren. It’s just how it is.
Calipari went on to then name the easiest parts about being the coach at Kentucky
1.) I was driving in the car with my son the other day and I say to him, “Brad, why do you think everyone says this is the hardest job?” He says, “Because you’re expected to win every game, and if you don’t, the fans are all over you.” I thought about it for a second and I said, “Well, should you win all of your games?” He said, “Yeah.” And then I said, “Aren’t the fans a big part of it,” and he says, “Yeah.” That’s the best part of this: The fans DO care, and they’re passionate about everything we do. They become your ally, an army that stands behind you.
2.) Who doesn’t want to play where every game is the biggest on the schedule? There are no exhibitions here. There are no breaks. You never play in front of empty seats. As a competitor, you want to play in the Super Bowl. It forces you to be at your best every single day.
3.) At Kentucky, you can not only recruit the very best players in the country, you can recruit the best students. We’ve had a 3.0 grade-point average in five of the last six semesters, including this past term. We’ve graduated 10 players over the last four years. You don’t get every top recruit, but you can be involved with every kid. There aren’t’t many programs that have that advantage. You also have the best facilities, the best assistant coaches and the best support for you of any school in the country. Whether you’re talking about our practice facility, Rupp Arena, our locker room or the way we travel, this is the gold standard.
4.) The exposure here gives you a platform like no other. I’m not sure there is any other job that can promote the players quite like we do, that can give them a better chance of reaching their dreams, or that can put them in a better position to either graduate and move on to a successful career and/or play professional basketball. The exposure our kids get here from social media and national coverage is unprecedented. Every game is like an NBA Game 7. The support we can give them academically prepares them for the rest of their lives. And the facilities, the coaching and the staff are all in place with one agenda in mind: to help them reach their dreams and get them to understand that if they come together as a team, anything is possible. Also, because of this platform and the exposure of this job, you have a chance to inspire a state, to move people in a positive way, to jump behind causes that are dear to your heart, and to stand up for what’s right knowing full well it may not be the most popular thing. This job is bigger than you, but it also gives you an opportunity to do good while you’re in this seat.