If Cal refuses to get with the times, Kentucky basketball needs to find a coach that will.
Kentucky Basketball has won with John Calipari and they can win without him. I’m not saying Kentucky needs to break up with the hall of fame coach just yet, but I think it’s imperative they have that shortlist of coaches every Athletic Director has prepared ready and on speed dial.
Kentucky fans are no doubt some of the most passionate fans in the country. Not only are they passionate they also know basketball more so than most. If you were to scour the internet long enough between Twitter, Facebook, or message boards you’ll often find plenty of tired arguments with the phrase “if you think you could do better,” many Kentucky fans could probably hold their own in the college basketball coaching world.
Kidding aside, Kentucky is at a crossroads it would seem in the Cal era. There are several categories of how the fanbase feels in regards to Cal. One segment has never liked Cal, they didn’t like him from day one they think he’s a swindler, a used car salesman perhaps and he can’t coach just recruits well. They don’t like the “one and done” system that many top programs are now using. They want players to come here for four years and develop.
The second segment of fans are those that think Cal can do no wrong, and always have the excuses lined up when things don’t go perfectly to plan. They love what Cal does, they love his personality and they love to argue that what Cal has done here is better than anybody in the country, ever.
The third segment of fans is probably where the majority of fans would fall, including me. They like Cal, they think he’s done great things here and they’re wise enough to know winning a title every year is next to impossible. They don’t want to see Cal go, but they realize the Kentucky program is bigger than any one coach. They’re happy being in the hunt every year, but they’re starting to question Cal and his complacency.
When I refer to complacency, I’m referencing the “lifetime” contract that was recently handed out. When you’re given a deal like that it’s easy to go: “Well I’m here for as long as I want to be, and they really can’t do squat about it.”
Let’s be honest here, Kentucky is basically stuck with Cal, and kudos to whoever negotiated that deal. Did Mitch Barnhart have to give it to him? Maybe, I remember a time when UCLA was sniffing around trying to lure Cal to Los Angeles I doubt he would’ve gone, but the threat was real.
Cal has one of the most binding contracts I’ve ever seen. If he’s fired his buyout is unaffordable, and if another team comes sniffing around again he can leave and the new team won’t owe the University of Kentucky a dime. That’s just absolutely preposterous. Kentucky is all in on Cal, but he’s always got one foot out the door. Doesn’t seem like an equal partner relationship to me.
For a moment let us pump the breaks and take a look back season by season and try and find out what went wrong, and when.