Kentucky Basketball: Why There's More to John Calipari Besides Recruiting

Matt Overing@@MOveringContributor IIIAugust 21, 2012

Oct. 14, 2011; Lexington, KY USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari speaks to fans in front of players during big blue madness at Rupp Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-US PRESSWIRE

Everyone has an opinion of John Calipari. Some approach his name with hostility, others with kindness and even more with indifference.

He's one of the most underrated coaches in college basketball. He's a cheater. No, he doesn't cheat—he is simply the best at bending the rules. Kudos to CBS Sports for showing college basketball coaches are just as polarized on their opinion of Calipari as fans.

There is one underlying factor in all three questions asked by CBS Sports to college basketball coaches: Calipari is the best coach at acquiring talented and is great at cultivating that talent. 

Unfortunately, some college basketball cynics see Calipari's success in recruiting as "cheating." Call me naive, but I will believe it when I see it. When you're coaching the program with the most wins and second-most national championships in the country, recruiting should come easy. With Coach Cal, it does.

Bringing in recruits is tough stuff, particularly with roster turnover leaving resounding question marks after every fruitful season. It takes great skill in preparing these batches of young adults for the rigors of a college basketball season, a college lifestyle and life after college.

Some top freshmen struggle to adapt to the college game. Marquis Teague did. Terrence Jones had his rough patches. Even Anthony Davis had his off nights—but it was Calipari's unique coaching that kept their slumps to a minimum.

When you talk X's and O's, the name "Calipari" won't come up very often. But when you consider the defensive dominance of his teams, you've got to question that notion. His teams play man-to-man. Because of the great athletes on his team, ball-screens are negated by a simple switch. 

Top recruits that don't want to play defense don't come to Lexington, it is as simple as that. 

Offensively, the Dribble Drive Motion has been used and analyzed by coaches across the country. Calipari made it famous. His teams are known for defense and can hold their own offensively.

Coaching isn't the only facet of his job at the University of Kentucky. Not many coaches take a national championship trophy on tour for their fanbase to enjoy. Other coaches wouldn't go to a town like West Liberty and donate money to support the recovery of a small town in eastern Kentucky.

Calipari is a philanthropist, and he finds time to give back to the community in Kentucky despite his 24/7 head coaching job. Most Calipari critics say he has no loyalty to the school or the fans. But what are these displays of warmth to the state of Kentucky? 

It shows that Calipari isn't a mercenary. He doesn't coach Kentucky simply for prestige or self-worth. Regardless of what the future holds, Calipari has given Kentucky citizens reasons to celebrate—and not all of those reasons are basketball-related.

Your opinion of John Calipari is one of many. Most know him to be one of the best recruiters in the game. But to be a college basketball head coach, regardless of institution, you've got to be multifaceted—just like Calipari.


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