Kentucky Wildcats Basketball

John Calipari Takes Over Kentucky Basketball Program

GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 26:  Head Coach John Calipari of the Memphis Tigers adjusts his team against the Missouri Tigers in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the University of Phoenix Stadium on March 26, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Jason ColdironCorrespondent IMarch 31, 2009

Kentucky has lured John Calipari from Memphis to take over their struggling program, in a move first reported by the Memphis Commercial Appeal.


After “sleeping on it,” Calipari decided he was ready for the challenge of rebuilding one of the biggest college basketball programs in the country.


It was reported on Monday that the deal would be for eight years and $35 million. This would make Calipari the new highest-paid coach in all the land.


Calipari follows Billy Gillespie as head coach. Gillespie failed to live up to expectations in his two years and also didn't understand the culture of Kentucky basketball.


Calipari will look to remind Wildcat fans of the days of former coach Rick Pitino, who will forever be regarded as the measuring stick for all their coaches.


Further thickening the plot is the fact that Calipari was a one-time assistant to Pitino. Pitino has moved to the other side of the state in Louisville and has a perennial winner there.


Calipari will have to battle Pitino in the present, but also his shadow over the Kentucky program.


In a state with no major professional sports teams, these two great coaches just may be fighting for Kentucky supremacy.


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