NCAA Should Put John Calipari's Championship Trophy on Ice for a Few Years

Lou RomContributor IApril 3, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 02:  Head coach John Calipari celebrates as he cuts down the net after the Wildcats defeat the Kansas Jayhawks 67-59 in the National Championship Game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on April 2, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Now that John Calipari has added an NCAA Championship to this three Final Four appearances as a head coach, it's time the NCAA implemented a waiting period before handing over the championship hardware, say, about two years.

That should allow enough time for a potential third cheating scandal to rise to the surface.

With his Kentucky Wildcats' 67-59 victory over Kansas in the bag, Calipari becomes an even more polarizing figure.

It's like the homerun hitter who corked his bat, the fighter who packed his gloves or the receiver who went all Lester Hayes on us.

It takes a long time to believe that what you see is, well, what you see.

What we saw, on the surface Monday night, was the Wildcats handle the Jayhawks with little trouble in New Orleans.

Of course, we've been through this before.

In 1996, the basketball Gods were anointing Calipari the Chosen One after taking scrappy UMass to the Final Four.

It happened again in 2008, when he led Memphis to the Final Four before ultimately losing to Kansas in the final.

Of course, both UMass and Memphis had their Final Four appearances vacated by the NCAA after it was learned that players had accepted thousands of dollars in cash and gifts and skated by academic requirements under Calipari.

So, forgive me, and many NCAA basketball fans, if we're not ready to celebrate Monday night's resounding victory over the Jayhawks.

Calipari's record makes it hard to apply even typical skepticism, but begs for new rules of engagement, new degrees of skepticism.

Think about it:

"I'll believe it when I see it" does not apply, as we've seen it before only to find that what we saw was a mirage.

Perhaps the old adage, "Wait 'til Next Year" can take on new meaning, as in "wait until all the chips have fallen and we know the truth about Calipari's UK recruits and the program at large."

No one doubts Calipari's talent, his drive or his recruiting skills.

We just doubt his players' SAT scores and wonder who paid for the new ride.

To be sure, many on Calipari's teams were not on the take. And, there's nothing yet to indicate that Calipari has not indeed learned from his mistakes.

So, we can hope that this year's lot, including Anthony Davis, doesn't become next year's Marcus Camby, Lou Roe and Derrick Rose.

We can hope tonight's victory is not tossed again in two years. Hope just that for Kentucky, for the honest players, the honest coaches and assistants, for the NCAA and the game at large.

But me, well, I'll hold out  hope—say until 2014—that this one counts.