Kentucky, Calipari could be a dangerous marriage

How quickly we forget the potential downside of success.

This Sports Illustrated cover should be hanging on the walls of athletic department.

10. Is this what they mean by history repeating?

John Calipari is not the dirtiest coach or the worst person to ever to walk the face of the earth, or even Massachusetts — even if former Temple coach John Chaney did not once scream at him from across the room: “I’ll kill you — you remember that!” But in the case of Kentucky: Should there be much of a difference between not being the dirtiest coach or the worst person in the world — and being uncomfortable close enough? Kentucky should know better.

9. Look to the left: That’s real, not Photoshopped.

Kentucky basketball suffered through one of the worst scandals in  the history of college sports, which covers a lot of history. The program was put on three years probation and banned from the post-season and television for two years. Eddie Sutton was fired after admitting, yeah, players getting Emery envelopes full of cash from boosters probably fell under his responsibility. Rick Pitino then performed one of the great clean-up and coaching jobs we will ever witness, as Rick Pitino would be the first to tell you. But now Kentucky basketball is just mediocre again. And school officials, blinded by the need to win, may be going back to that same dirty well again.

8. Can the Cats afford to hire even a rehabilitated con?

Do all signs point to success -- or trouble?

Do signs point to success or trouble?

All indications are that Calipari is finalizing a ridiculously lucrative contract with the Wildcats, who fired Billy Gillispie (a good coach but a bad fit in Lexington). It always has been about winning at Kentucky, sometimes at all costs. But you’d think they could find somebody with a cleaner resume. Calipari has managed to stay out of trouble at Memphis. Either he has reformed, or he’s just more careful now. But it’s a dangerous marriage. We’re talking about a coach with a checkered past possibly heading a high-profile program with a loud and demanding fan base — the kind that makes coaches do strange things. Calipari coached UMass to the Final Four in 1996, but all accomplishments from that year were vacated when Marcus Camby admitted taking cash, clothes and, well, the company of independent contractors wearing fish-net stockings — all courtesy of agents. Calipari probably should have known something was wrong when Camby was seen walking around campus with half of the Shane Co. warehouse around his neck.

7. But wait, there’s more.

Calipari had a reputation as a less than upstanding recruiter when he was an assistant at Pittsburgh. He also was known to take academic shortcuts at UMass. In 1994, the Boston Globe quoted an AAU official in Connecticut as saying “Another coach says to a kid, ‘If you qualify, we want you.’ Calipari says, ‘If you qualify, we want you. If you don’t, we still want you.’” Now, people do change. So maybe Calipari has changed. If the NCAA doesn’t unearth something at Memphis, we’ll have to assume he now has, you know, morals and stuff. But a question: If you’re Kentucky, and if you’ve walked down the probation Green Mile before,  why would you bring in somebody who reminds you of not only his past but your’s?

6. The Ripple Effect.

There’s a lot of concern in Athens because the potential opening at Memphis means there’s one more top basketball program competing for a coach against Georgia. That might be true. But aren’t the perceived top two candidates — Jeff Capel (Oklahoma) and Mike Anderson (Missouri) — still on the board? I’ll hold off judging Damon Evans until we see how this plays out. UPDATE: There is one report that Anderson has been offered the Georgia job. UPDATE II: And here’s Chip Towers’ story, somewhat dousing the ESPN story.

5. And for what it’s worth.

It wouldn’t be the worst thing if Kentucky started winning again. If Ashley Judd’s happy, everybody’s happy.

Wonder if Ashley cares if Kentucky cheats?

I wonder if Ashley cares if Kentucky starts cheating again?

4. Attorney overstating Vick’s worth

Michael Vick’s attorneys get paid to put the best spin on things. But they’re deluded if they really believe that Vick is going to make $10 million a year when he starts playing again. He is not a marketing bonanza right now. Nobody will touch him for an endorsement deal for at least a year after he returns to the NFL, and maybe longer. Secondly, there will not be enough teams in the NFL vying for his services to mandate any semblance of a bidding war. That likely means his salary will be close to the NFL minimum and heavy on incentives. Attorney Daniel Marchum said, “There is no person with his talent in that position in all the league.” And then there’s the other 95 percent of the story, which he somehow left out.

3. Where’s the love?

Nobody in Las Vegas is smiling on the Braves

Las Vegas isn't smiling on the Braves

Hope springs eternal, unless you’re standing in a sportsbook. Oddsmakers are not driving the Braves’ bandwagon and project them to finish third in the National League East, behind Philadelphia and New York. BetUS.com has listed the Braves sixth among potential World Series winners from the National League at 30-1, behind the Mets (8-1), Cubs (8-1), Phillies (14-1), Dodgers (15-1) and Diamondbacks (18-1). Bodog also has them sixth overall in the National League. The Mets and Cubs are 3-1 to win the pennant, followed by Philadelphia (11-2), Arizona (13-2), Los Angeles (17-2) and the Braves (10-1). Apparently, they didn’t get the memo on Kenshin Kawakami.

2. Atlanta GM’s Final Four update

Atlanta’s four general managers are tied going into the Countdown’s inaugural Final Four GM Pool. All have two of the four teams. Three of the four have a potential final matchup: Thrashers general manager Don Waddell has potential finalists North Carolina and Michigan State (he lost Memphis and Pitt in his pool). The Hawks’ Rick Sund has a potential North Carolina-Connecticut final (he lost Pitt and Wake Forest). The two Philips Arena tenants are ahead of the other two. The Falcons’ Thomas Dimitroff has North Carolina and Villanova remaining, but UNC defeating Louisville in the title game. The Braves’ Frank Wren has UNC and UConn remaining in his pool. But his title matchup? Louisville over Florida State. Oops. UPDATE: At least Wren had the foresight to re-sign Chipper.

1. It’s not a dream, John.

ESPN reported that John Calipari was still “sleeping” on Kentucky’s offer. Wow. A potential $5 million a year to coach Kentucky and he still can’t decide? Maybe he has changed.

Jeff Schultz, fighting to stay relevant with peeps under 40, can be reached via email (jschultz@ajc.com), Facebook, Tweeter (SchultzAJC) or carrier pigeon (make a right off 400).

68 comments Add your comment

Cuz

March 31st, 2009
11:04 am

Someone wake up Calipari and give him a cup of coffee. I knew those sleep supplements would cost you, looks like about five million for Calipari.

Cuz

March 31st, 2009
11:05 am

If Ashley Judd is happy, then I am happy.

Taylor

March 31st, 2009
11:06 am

Cuz

March 31st, 2009
11:07 am

Hey Jeff, any chance of getting Megan Fox in a basketball jersey? That should be enough incentive for a top coach.

Coondawg69

March 31st, 2009
11:07 am

Jeff, I really do not understand your article’s order. Why in the heck is #5, more importantly, it’s picture, NOT #1???

To paraphrase Jim Harrick Sr., Calapari is shady as a 500 year old Oak. That alone speaks loud and clear.

DawginLex

March 31st, 2009
11:13 am

It ain’t a done deal yet. FWIW, UK has a pretty mean Compliance Director.

scott

March 31st, 2009
11:15 am

All I can say is thank goodness Ashley’s sister Wynonna is not a KU fan and was not also similarly pictured, or I might have lost my Cheerios.

scott

March 31st, 2009
11:17 am

scott

March 31st, 2009
11:23 am

Bobby Dowell

March 31st, 2009
11:38 am

Fair write up, but I think KY and Calapari are dangerous only for the rest of the SEC. And nice pic of Ms Judd. :)

Jim

March 31st, 2009
11:39 am

Anyone notice Jeff Gordon’s 2nd wife looks just like Asley Judd…plus she has an exotic eastern euro accent…score one for JG

azcat225

March 31st, 2009
11:40 am

scott, I could have done without either one of those links.

Calipari isn’t clean, he’s just smoother.

I just hope my Cats don’t mess up their hire but I’m not holding my breath at this point in time.

kinggene

March 31st, 2009
11:40 am

great sports illustrated to pull out of the files jeff. those folks in lexington just had to throw tubby smith under the bus, now long for those “good ole days” when they made the big dance. Here’s hoping they fall flat on their face again.

Dale Flynn

March 31st, 2009
12:00 pm

Geez! Talk about character assassination! Calipari was completely absolved of ANY wrong-doing in the Camby incident. That was ENTIRELY on Camby. Some sleazy AAU child peddler mutters something derogatory about a coach?!? Earth-shattering! And then, of course, there are all those transgressions that have piled up since then…oh, wait, there aren’t any! As to the reference to the Chris Mills Emory envelope incident, I was living in Los Angeles when that transpired. Let’s see…a DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES Emory office has one of the thousands of packages moving along their line “pop open” (ever try to open one of those envelopes?). Well, whaddya know? There’s cash in it! So the Emory employee, one of hundreds toiling away in DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES, looks at the envelope and sees that the addressee is Claude Mills. Out of the 20 million people in L.A. who don’t give a damn about sports, this guy immediately thinks, “Is this person related to Chris Mills, high school hoopster?”. This guy then turns the $$ over to the NCAA. This was the most far-fetched, trumped-up piece of you-know-what in sports history! Oh, and by the way, that SI cover isn’t “real”. That is a model, who probably had never even been to Kentucky. The “Shame” was the hatchet job done by a lazy, incurious media-all too willing to write first and investigate never. How sad that such Neanderthal journalism still is being employed, over 2 decades later. When there is no fire, just create smoke. What an ass!

Left to Right

March 31st, 2009
12:03 pm

Schlabach is reporting on ESPN site that Georgia has offered the HC to Anderson for more than $2M per year and that Anderson is considering the offer.

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=4029709

Schlabach first reported this over 2 hours ago.

Ted Striker

March 31st, 2009
12:13 pm

I don’t care whether Kentucky cheats. But if Ashley Judd ever decides SHE wants to…. (Me Rat, Her Cheeto)

Howard

March 31st, 2009
12:14 pm

Ridiculous, he is definitely not the cleanest but to compare his responsibility to keep a star player (adult) from talking to agents and accepting gifts to an assistant coach sending 10k to a recruit is absurd. Get off your high horse (or Bulldog) Jeff. Oh and great completely non-sensical reference to the “Crazy Cheney” incident.

Jeff Schultz

March 31st, 2009
12:14 pm

Hi, Dale. Kentucky fan?

Hurry up April 5th!

March 31st, 2009
12:16 pm

As a Duke fan who was born in Durham and grew up in Kentucky (I know), I can tell you that Big Blue Nation is cautiously optimistic about the Calipari hire. One one hand, each day since Billy G was fired has been like an eternity for my friends up there waiting for a coach. On the other hand Kentucky fans REALLY want to get it right this time.

In my opinion as a Dukie who at least supports the Cats when they are nowhere near the ACC, Calipari is a great hire as long as his ambitions are to win there and retire there. The guy is a little greasy, but if he wants to be the next hallowed all-time coach he can do it at UK if he does it right.

Billy G didn’t work because he couldn’t handle all that is entailed in being the basketball coach at UK. You wouldn’t understand unless you have lived there, but men’s basketball coach at UK may as well be President of the United States to Big Blue Nation. You had better win, look good doing it, keep the populace happy, and be available for questioning at all times. That’s just the way it is. Calipari fits the bill if he stays clean. Ashley Judd is smokin’ hot.

KYBulldog

March 31st, 2009
12:33 pm

I wonder if the AD and President of UK knew about Billy G’s affinity for Jack Daniels and nubile coeds, or if they even cared. Had Billy won a few more games, all of that would have been winked at. If the new guy wins games, he will be a “good fit.” It is a comfort to know that there is at least one other university president as devious as our beloved Mike Adams.

dawg

March 31st, 2009
12:34 pm

Don’t forget, Tubby only won the championship with Pitino recruits. Tubby didn’t do much after that. Just a fact.

Word2yaMother

March 31st, 2009
12:36 pm

If Ashley Judd keeps taking those pictures I will be very happy.

oldmike

March 31st, 2009
12:43 pm

i don’t see you at the Y anymore, Jeff. Has this new blog gone to your head? As for Calipari it’s all about the money isn’t it? It always is. But I am sure when he signs he’ll declare this is the job he has been dreaming about all his life. Just like all those players that have meandered through the ATL on their way to greeener pastures elsewhere. Swearing the love for the city and the organizatipon. See Sheff, JD Drew, etc.

Educate Yourself

March 31st, 2009
12:50 pm

Funny how hack writers such as yourself disparage coaches like Calipari for something that happened 15 years ago that he was cleared of….while coaches such as Jim Calhoun run dirty programs that have problems EVERY YEAR yet you make Calipari wear the scarlet letter.

Keith Sherwood

March 31st, 2009
12:56 pm

Do your homework! He has been at Memphis 9 years and has had not one hint of wrong doing. Go back and fact check what really went down at UMass. All of this baggage stuff is so ridiculous. It just allows lazy sports writers to do a half ass job. You are better than that.

Nicholas Irwin

March 31st, 2009
12:57 pm

Allow me to paraphrase Dale:

It shouldn’t count that we cheated because we got caught in the most ridiculously coincidental way imaginable. And how dare the preeminent sports news magazine in the country actually do a cover story on how the most prestigious college basketball program in the country got caught cheating, and consequently was not allowed on TV or in the postseason for three years!?!?

I’ll have to remember that. That’s even better than Alabama football fans.

blufftondawg

March 31st, 2009
1:14 pm

Calipari is a great basketball coach, so is Jim Harrick. No kidding, they are. I saw every UGA home game coached by Jim Harrick and he put an outstanding team on the floor. Even without cheating to get recruits they both would be great coaches capable of winning championships, they are that good.
I hope Calipari stays at memphis so uga doesn’t have to face him twice a year. Calipari cheats, but he doesn’t have to, so its a shame that he does. running an honest program – if he can – calipari will win at kentucky.

Ken Argroves

March 31st, 2009
1:27 pm

As a Georgia alum living in Memphis who love the Tigers, let me say that Coach Cal has been nothing but exceptional for the nine years here. He has done a remarkable job of winning basketball and winning a city. He represents the school, the community and fan base with a lot of class. He does not tolerate any BS from his players and the 4-5 year guys graduate-not many schools do as good of a job of preparing basketball players and citizens as the U of M- Coach Cal and the administration are to be commended for that.
If UK gets Coach Cal, the SEC east would be Wildcat Blue within 2 years.
A very interesting scenario would be for my Dawgs to get Mike Anderson-another top-notch coach with a very competitive past with Calipari. On the other hand my Tigers would love to have Anderson as well. Ain’t college sports FUN!!

Mac

March 31st, 2009
1:27 pm

OK Schultz, I’m nominating you for governor. Last week Sheryl Crow and this week Ashley Judd. You rule. And, yeah, all that sports stuff was interesting, too. Was it hockey you were writing about?

DawginLex

March 31st, 2009
1:52 pm

It is official, Calipari to Uk

http://www.wreg.com

bali

March 31st, 2009
2:08 pm

dale and educated must be pen pals The Scarlet K will be worn by Kentucky if Koach Kal becomes the new coach at kentuck. Calipari sounds like something u eat at an Italian Eatery before the main course.Five million to coach and we are in a deep recession. Only in America.

Davis

March 31st, 2009
2:41 pm

By “one of the worst scandals” you mean “one of the most recent scandals”. What Eddie Sutton and his stiff did was pretty bad. However, many other schools have done the same thing (UConn, most recently). UK deserved everything they got then, but let’s not single them out when plenty of other schools do the same thing.

ben

March 31st, 2009
2:44 pm

Look, we all know that probably 30% of all NCAA BBall players belong in college. Just look at the pathetic graduation rates. Let’s just give up the farce and hire them out like gunslingers.

gdawginkalamazoo

March 31st, 2009
2:59 pm

ben, true. That one year rule screws a lot of things up for colleges. Why even have coaches? Just street ball it for a year then move onto the NBA. That is one of the unique things about MSU Spartans this year is that Izzo has kept those kids pretty much together for a full four years. That will be the key difference if they win it all. If they don’t then they probably need to get a couple of gunslingers like everybody else.

[...] and John Calipari could be a dangerous marriage.  With the infamous SI cover sitting right there as if we had [...]

Dario Franchitti

March 31st, 2009
3:33 pm

Trust me, she’s happy. And so I am. Delirously so.

You Old Dawg

March 31st, 2009
3:38 pm

Jeff, regarding your comment: If Ashley Judd’s happy, everybody’s happy.

I could make Ashley Judd happy. It might take a while as I am even older than you are (and smarter too), but if she has the patience then I have the time.

Dario Franchitti

March 31st, 2009
4:18 pm

Why am I Scottish? I’m Dario Franchitti. I’m Scottish?

chiefs fan

March 31st, 2009
4:21 pm

Dadgum, I’ve an affinity for Jack Daniels and nubile coeds, too. Can I be a ball coach?

jch67

March 31st, 2009
5:08 pm

In all honesty, aren’t you more concerned with how Calipari at UK affects UGA’s coaching search than UK’s NCAA compliance?

Although there are head coaching jobs open at both UK and UGA, they weren’t competing for the same coaches. However, UGA and Memphis will be and Memphis is a MUCH better job bumping UGA yet another rung down the ladder in the coaching search.

Let UK and Calipari, both with over 2 decades without any infractions, worry about UK’s compliance with NCAA.

You have enough to worry about with deciding which mid-major assistant coach will take over in Athens.

Gen Neyland

March 31st, 2009
5:10 pm

I sort of like Kentucky’s play these past few years. Ditto for UGA’s. Here’s to hoping they get no better soon. After all, we’re all in the SEC East together. But to be nice, I’d advise both UK and UGA to stay away from a BB coach that has been before the NCAA Godfathers and lost…

gp295

March 31st, 2009
5:21 pm

What about Duke and NorthCarliona, for the talent thats go to those school should win a title every two or three years, gotta be able to coach the cheating come easy at those schools.

Terrible Truth

March 31st, 2009
5:27 pm

Ashley Judd, now there’s a babe, unlike last weeks post, Shrivel Crow. What the heck, Bulldogs, hire Gillispie. Just warn him about belittling and harassing the courtside reporterettes, especially Erin Andrews. You leave my Erin alone!

Ted Striker

March 31st, 2009
5:30 pm

Chiefs fan: If you’ve got jack daniels and nubile coeds — coaching is merely a distraction.

jch67: Calipari going to UK affects UGA as much as the rain in spain.

BJ

March 31st, 2009
6:00 pm

Why has nobody mentioned Worldwide Wes? That is the entire story. There is nothing else to the story. This isn’t about Kentucky. This isn’t about Calipari. This is about Worldwide Wes. He must be Keyser Soze because everybody is afraid to mention his name.

jch67

March 31st, 2009
6:02 pm

“Ted” Sorry to burst your bubble but Cal to UK opens up the Memphis job which DOES affect UGA’s search by opening up another mid-level coaching job which is exactly what Memphis is without Calipari. There isn’t a coach in the US who would take the UGA job over Memphis thus bumping UGA down another rung on the ladder.

Get it????

[...] Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution lets Kentucky have it for their pursuit of John Calipari.Here’s a taste:1)  After stating that Calipari “is [...]

dawg

March 31st, 2009
8:36 pm

Why is the AJC only focused on Capel and Anderson? Wright at Villanova is worth the wait and see.

Bo Williams

March 31st, 2009
8:40 pm

I’m afraid that Calipari to UK portends a death sentence for the rest of the SEC. What recruit will want to go to any of the other schools, because they simply will not be able to compete w/Kentucky. Kentucky will rule the SEC, and the other top recruits will continue to sign w/the other royalty schools (UNC, DUKE, UNC, UCLA, KANSAS). There will simply not be any passion, with the exception of one 5-star per school, for going to the other SEC schools. There may be competitive synergy among the FL schools, but not enough to take them beyond token appearances at the Big Dance.

Brew

March 31st, 2009
8:46 pm

Does this mean that Fed Ex will moving their whole operation of paying players from Memphis to Lexington or will they just open a branch office up there for Cal? Or is it still o.k. to openly pay Wildcat players without fear of NCAA sanctions?