Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari has been talking a lot recently about how he only sees himself as being able to last at the University of Kentucky for 10 years maximum. He said that when he took the job, and he’s saying it again on both national and local radio shows. For some reason, Cal believes he will only last 10 years as head coach of the Wildcats.
Ten years, is a large chunk of time and likely a big fraction of one’s life. There aren’t many coaches who stay at one spot for that extended period of time, but the great ones can and often do. Is Calipari one of the great ones? Currently, he is one of the best in the game. He is a recruiting genius. He’s a public relations gem. He says and does everything that a Kentucky fan wants him to. And the fans love him. Unfortunately, his legacy is that he’s had two Final Fours vacated and has been labeled a cheater, even if unfairly called so.
But is it really out of the question for John Calipari to be at Kentucky for longer than 10 years? In fact, barring a career change or a call to family duties, if he still wants to be there, there is no way that John Calipari would be forced out of the position, even if he had not won a National Championship in the next seven seasons. He’s brought the Kentucky basketball program back to national prominence and has the Kentucky brand bigger, better, and more marketable than at any time in its history. He gets the best players and talent to come wear the blue and white. He’s reached the Elite 8 and Final Four in his first two seasons. He’s become the face of the University of Kentucky, and he is beloved by all that bleed blue.
There are only three possible scenarios that I could see that would have Calipari in a different job after 10 years at the helm of the Kentucky basketball program.
1. NBA – Calipari failed as a coach in the NBA during his time with the New Jersey Nets. He’s had nothing but success since joining the college basketball scene, and may look to jump for the right opportunity to coach again at the highest level. There has been a ton of chatter about Calipari to the NBA since coming to Lexington, and after every season, his name will continue to be brought up in speculation and NBA owners will continue to try and lure him out of the bluegrass state.
2. Family – For all intents and purposes, Calipari is notably a family man. He talks often about his wife and children, and how important it is for his players to feel like and become a family. He often refers to his players as his sons. However, for most of his children’s lives, he has been a basketball coach, and he’s spent a good amount of time away from his family by putting a lot of time and effort into his occupation. For him to do what he does at that level, there is a lot of energy exerted into efforts of building the best basketball program in the country. Unfortunately, his family suffers a bit because of that. That is not to say that his family is unhappy, but that Calipari may feel obligated at some point to spend more time with his family, even if he pulls an Urban Meyer.
3. NCAA Violations – Let’s not be naive here. While Calipari has not directly been implicated and is still innocent of any wrong doing from the violations that occurred under his watch at both UMass and Memphis, at both programs did they suffer consequences of vacated wins. While Calipari has not been directly tied to either Derrick Rose’s or Marcus Camby’s violations, they did happen while he was the head basketball coach at those institutions. With the nature of college athletics being what they are, mostly corrupt and suspicious for any program in any sport, it is entirely possible that another violation could happen at Kentucky that would almost certainly cost him his job at Kentucky. I would like to believe that this is unlikely to happen, but it is tough to predict what really goes on at collegiate athletic institutions with the recent developments at Ohio State with Jim Tressle, or at Penn State with Joe Paterno.
The way things currently stand, however, Calipari is in perfect position to do whatever he wants at the University of Kentucky. He has gotten the entire Big Blue Nation to buy in to what he is selling, and he is king. If nothing changes and Calipari continues to have similar success over the next seven years, he will be able to stay the head coach at the University of Kentucky for as long as he wants. The only question is, does he want to?
Get more great Kentucky sports analysis over at Strait Pinkie.