When Kentucky hired John Calipari in 2009, Pat Forde wrote for ESPN, “They want their winner and they want him now, and they’re not worried about what happened at his previous place of employment.”
Kentucky got its winner, and the wins came in a big way, fast. Final Fours. A National Title. Lottery picks. Cal won elite recruits over with his hip arrogance.
Today, that arrogance has become blame. For the school. For the media exposure. For the players. This is what Kentucky signed up for when it got its winner. A man who says of his players, “The program almost got hijacked,” or “They’re counting on me too much.”
Was it worth it? The Kentucky brass knew the man they was getting into bed with. They knew the bridges he burned and the ashes he left at every other stop in his career. This should come as a surprise to no one.
It should also be a very sobering thought for anyone clamoring for their school to hire a new coach. We should all ask ourselves, “What do we want and what are we willing to give up to get it?” Winning is amazing, but is it worth what Kentucky is going through now? We forget that we're building our school pride and identity around 18 and 19 year old students, using their talents and abilities as long as they are useful to satisfy what it is we're coming to sports for. Cal has been a master at manipulating this to his own advantages.
Forde concluded his 2009 article with the assumption that Memphis fans probably didn't care about what happened at Cal’s previous place of employment when they hired him ten years earlier.
“Ask them how they feel today.”
Big Blue Nation needs to take a long look at whether or not this is what they want from their program going forward.