John Calipari Needs Kentucky as Much as Kentucky Needs Him

Steve PopowskiCorrespondent IMarch 31, 2009

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)

First and foremost, this is an opinion article, and is not meant to offend the great Memphis or Kentucky fans.

It is simply and outsiders point of view of the current Kentucky basketball situation and the possibility of Memphis coach John Calipari sitting on the sidelines of Rupp Arena for the next eight years.

This analysis is mostly qualitative, so if anybody has arguments with stats, please prove me wrong. Here are my thoughts:

1. Memphis Fans: Do not blame Calipari for going. You play in Conference USA

If you look at the greatest coaches of all-time, Dean Smith, Bobby Knight, John Wooden, etc, they all have one thing in common: they played in major conferences with legitimate competiion year in and year out.

I am sorry Memphis fans, but Conference USA is not the conference it used to be. Every year come tourney time, the biggest question is how to rank Memphis.

There is no doubt that they always belong as a high seed as evidenced by strong non-conference schedules, but if Calipari had the same team he had in Memphis this year at Kentucky, they would have probably been a favorite to win the tournament.

(Yes, their schedules would have changed, but the SEC was mundane this year and I don't think there is any question that Kentucky would have won it if they had Tyreke Evans, Robert Dozier, and Antonio Anderson).

Who knows, maybe next year we will see another team out of Conference USA in the NCAA tourney other than Memphis.

2. Kentucky Needs John Calipari

There is no doubt that Calipari is a cut above Billy Gillispie in terms of recruiting and coaching. Calipari attracted some of the best recruits in the country to Conference USA basketball, which is a feat in its own.

I don't think anybody argues that he can't coach either. Kentucky cannot give him a short leash though, like they gave Tubby Smith or Billy Gillespie. They need to give Calipari time to develop his program like he did in Memphis. If they give him only a few years, no coach is going to want to coach there.

3. Calipari Needs Kentucky

Like I said above, the greatest colleges coaches of all-time are mostly found in the major conferences, and if Calipari is successful in Kentucky for the next decade, his name will be mentioned along the likes of the greats.

If he stays in Memphis and continues to win, many people will debate the quality of those wins in Conference USA, and will judge him more on tourney wins, which he has none thus far.

In summary, I think that if John Calipari goes to Kentucky, he will be under a lot of pressure to produce right away. Kentucky fans need to relax and realize that despite having a decent team, they need to give their coach at least four years to establish his program.

The biggest problem with Kentucky basketball is not on the court, but the people who are running the administration.


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