Calipari would be wise to leave UK


Head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats John Calipari is all smiles during second half of the Sweet 16 of the 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament against the at Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday, March 26, 2015 in Cleveland , Ky. Photo by Jonathan Krueger

By Joshua Huff

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I don’t know John Calipari as a person.

I know him as a coach, a figure forced to sit in front of a podium and answer redundant questions about a team that may look different each year, but treads the same storylines.

Such is the life of a man who willingly entered the fanatical fandom of the Bluegrass state in hopes of Fedexing one prospect after the next to the NBA.

Basketball is a sport that never dies in Kentucky. While most universities have nestled into their summer routines, the UK fan base continues to shovel loads of processed information into their mouths as the UK basketball media train rolls on.

Calipari is caught in the vice of college recruiting and appeasing the most rabid fans in the country. It’s a surprise that after six years as head coach his hair doesn’t rival that of a two-term president.

Again, I don’t know Calipari as a person, but I do know one thing: there’s no way he stays in Lexington to see out his career.

Who would want to?

Imagine living the life of a mega-star. Paparazzi staked out in front of your house, cameramen with telescopic lenses camped out in the hills, legions of fans and critics alike waiting with baited breath for the next foot to fall.

Even Kim Kardashian would buckle under the pressure.

Coaching at UK goes in two different directions: Success leads to greater opportunities (the NBA), and failure leads coaches down paths traveled by the likes of Tubby Smith and Billy Gillispie.

In essence, the shelf life for the modern day UK coaching job is short-lived.

This outcry and panic about Calipari possibly leaving for the NBA is ridiculous. So much so that no matter how much future success he enjoys, the minute he leaves — or “bolts,” as UK fans will say — he’s going to be ridiculed and thrown under the bus.

I doubt fans will line up along the road as he heads to the airport with signs wishing him well. He might as well fly out of Louisville; surely they’ll be happy to see him go.

Coaching at UK truly is a job for the select few. Coaches need fleshed-out personal goals to achieve success here. I’m sure Wisconsin’s head coach Bo Ryan doesn’t have to tip toe around every word he utters. Say one positive word about an NBA team and fans think Calipari has his bags packed and jet fueled.

Coaching in its true form is unobtainable at UK. Calipari is the head of a multi-faceted organization with coaching on the lowest rung of the job description ladder. He’s the facilitator, a recruiter and the voice of a university. The coaching that he does is behind closed doors, building and branding freaks of nature who may call UK home, but in reality spend as much time on campus as it takes to add a new dorm.

I may not know Calipari personally, but I do know if he truly wants to coach, the NBA is waiting.