Calipari Forced to Vacate Two Final Fours? Thoughts from UK Perspective.

straitpinkieCorrespondent IAugust 20, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 21:  Head Coach John Calipari of the Memphis Tigers points a finger from the sideline during their second round game against the Maryland Terrapins in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Sprint Center on March 21, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Tigers defeated the Terrapins 89-70.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

If Memphis are forced to vacate their final four appearance in 2008, it will be the second time that Calipari has been forced to vacate a final four. He also was forced to do so in 1996 with Massachusetts. This is not good and does not reflect well on a coach’s reputation.

After Tubby Smith left for Minnesota, Mitch Barnhart and company did not even interview Calipari for the position. Reason being, he had sort of a shady past and they felt they could bring in someone else with a cleaner record and the program would carry the coach.

However, in came the fiasco that was Billy Clyde Gillispie. After two years of smirks, hard-headedness, and downright stupidity, they had enough of Gillispie and handed him his walking papers.

Now the situation was different. It didn’t look like the Kentucky Basketball Program could stand on it’s own with just any ole’ coach. Now all of a sudden John Calipari WAS a candidate for the UK job.

When Calipari was officially hired as the next head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky in April, some were skeptical about his past.  I am sure Barnhart and Lee Todd shared some of that skepticism. The mere fact that they didn’t consider him as a candidate for the job just two years ago indicates this.

Anytime a coach is forced to negate any type of accomplishment because of violations, it reflects badly on that coach. When it happens twice, you are trudging muddy waters.

As a head coach of a program, you are the face of the program, and are responsible for anything that happens under your watch. I don’t want to hear any of the, “he didn’t know” or “it isn’t his fault” crap.

If something happened while he was at the helm, it is his fault.

However, John Calipari is now the head coach at the University of Kentucky. He will be the head coach at UK whether or not he is forced to vacate his second final four appearance.

When he was hired, I was excited. The proposition of Calipari and the Kentucky program together was a scary one. And his first five months on the job have proven that the Calipari-UK combo is to be feared for a reason. But, still the question lingered: “Will he run a clean program?”

You can only hope.

At UMass and Memphis, it appears that Calipari may have bent the rules a little bit to get players to commit to his program. I do not know everything that went down at UMass or Memphis, I only know of the Marcus Camby and Derrick Rose situation. It is my hope that they played for Calipari, not because of money or fake SAT scores, but because of his style of play and his track record of getting players to the next level.

At the University of Kentucky those two traits alone should be enough to get players to dress in blue and white. I also hope that these two traits are the reason that UK decided to hire Calipari.

Still, it is tough to overlook his past troubles. Also, the concern that he built his reputation by bending the rules at smaller schools in order to make himself a coaching candidate at a historical basketball power like Kentucky remains.

Look, the last thing that Barnhart wanted when he hired Calipari was to end up on probation in five years. He hired him because he thought he could and would run a clean program at UK.

His past digressions may have helped build his reputation. A reputation that got him the job as the head coach at the University of Kentucky. But, now he is at UK and there is nothing we can do about his past.

Let’s just hope that he puts those issues behind him, realizes that he doesn’t have to do that to be successful at UK and runs a clean, successful program.

For more from the Pinkie, go to www.straitpinkie.com.


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