Has Kentucky Sold Its Soul to the Devil?

Jason KivelaCorrespondent IMay 29, 2009

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR - MARCH 21:  Head coach John Calipari of the Memphis Tigers reacts on the sideline during the game against the Texas-Arlington Mavericks during the first round of the South Regional as part of the 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Alltel Arena on March 21, 2008 in North Little Rock, Arkansas.  The Tigers won 87-63.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

What’s the price of returning to glory? Apparently, Kentucky basketball didn’t mind handing over their soul to Lucifer in order to get back to what they feel is their rightful place among the college basketball elite.  And I think it’s a shame, they didn’t have to go there.  By there I mean by hiring the King of the Vacated Final Four Banner: Mr. John Calipari.

            It’s amazing to me that a program and its fans could be so myopic about the pursuit of national championships that they would put blinders on and ignore the Camby and Rose scandals.  Considering the NCAA polices itself about as well as a high school senior whose parents have left them with an empty house, who knows what other skeletons Calipari has in his closet.  Or how many more he’s willing to put in there now that he’s at the helm of the most celebrated program in the country. 

            To me it’s just been a little too easy for Coach Cal to get non-stop streams of stud athletes to basketball backwaters like Amherst, MA and Memphis, TN.  To that end, it’d be nice if the NCAA used a little common sense and at least looked into how the 2009-2010 Cats were put together to make sure it’s on the up and up before we have the first team in history to have to vacate a National Championship banner. 

            When one surveys the 2009-2010 landscape – free of any UNC 2008-2009 type juggernauts – it is not hyperbole to suggest the Cats could be good enough to clip the nets down in Indy.  The 2008-2009 Kentucky team was probably talented enough to be in the NCAA tournament with a Big Two of Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson and underachieved by settling for an NIT bid.  Just having those two back in the fold – and considering Meeks lukewarm draft status, he’s a safe bet to be back – would of made Kentucky a Sweet Sixteen contender.  Throw in the #1 overall recruit point guard John Wall – who has ironically been endlessly compared to Derrick Rose – and #2 overall recruit (per Rivals 2009 player rankings) power forward DeMarcus Cousins and the array of weapons is stunning.  And, oh by the way, they have three other Top 50 players coming – guards Eric Bledsoe and Jon Hood plus center Daniel Orton – to add to what appears to be an embarrassment of riches. 

            It’s an impressive array of talent that could very well lead to Kentucky’s long sought return to glory.  But did they and Calipari do it the right way? Even more disturbing: do the NCAA and UK fans even care?