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The Aftermath of John Calipari to Kentucky

16 Mar 1998:  New Jersey Nets head coach John Calipari gestures during a game against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Nets 88-72.   Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel  /Allsport
Stephen KrigerCorrespondent IApril 1, 2009

Lewis and Clark, Bonnie and Clyde, Brad and Angelina, and now John Calipari and Kentucky.

 

It seems as though every major sportswriter in the country can't get enough of this newfound relationship, and rightly so. All indications are pointing to Coach Cal being a huge success at the University of Kentucky just like he was at UMass and most recently Memphis.

 

However, the one major thing that keeps getting lost in all of this hoopla (no pun intended) is the Memphis Tiger basketball program. The departure of Coach Calipari could have massive negative implications for the future of the Tiger program.

 

The coach who won 137 games in the past four years, an NCAA record, has just jumped ship, and the staff that recruited the players that won all of those games are likely going with him.

 

The Tigers will graduate two seniors this year and possibly lose two others to the NBA Draft in June. There have been talks about up to three players transferring to other schools.

 

And, oh yeah, what about the highly touted, No. 1-ranked recruiting class in the country that was supposed to win a national championship for Memphis next year? Well, it seems as though one by one, they are all looking elsewhere as well.

 

This leaves the Memphis Tigers with a total of four players for the 2009-2010 season: Pierre Henderson-Niles, Preston Laird, Willie Kemp, and Doneal Mack. Last I checked, you needed at least five players to field a team.

 

This could mean trouble for the program that has been to four straight NCAA tournament Sweet Sixteens, and there seems to be no quick fix for the Tigers either.

 

Although the Memphis job has become more attractive over the past few years, many of the top coaches in the country won't likely leave their jobs in the “power” conferences to come coach in Conference USA, especially if there is so much turmoil surrounding the team.

 

The Tigers can only hope that Tim Floyd from USC, Sean Miller from Xavier, or Mark Few from Gonzaga will be able to look past all of that and realize that Memphis is truly one of the best jobs in the country.

 

Now, the one thing that the Tigers do have going for them is money, and lots of it. The Memphis boosters are some of the best in the country, and they were willing to give Coach Cal anything he wanted, but it just wasn't in the cards. This will play very favorably however when the Tigers look to hire a new coach.

 

If all of this comes to fruition, then it could potentially be a devastating blow to the Memphis Tigers basketball program, but if history has anything to do with it then the Tigers will be back, and it'll be sooner rather than later.

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