SportsProf

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

John Calipari: Where There's Smoke, There Seems to be Fire

John Feinstein certainly thinks so. Read here for his column about Calipari, who took both UMass and Memphis to the Final Four, only to see both schools have to vacate their successes because of funny business with players.

But is Calipari damaged goods?

Hardly. So damaged is he that one of the all-time best men's hoop programs, Kentucky, hired him earlier this year to try to restore it to its perch as a contender for a national championship every year. (If you were asked to name some of the all-time top programs, you'd name, in no particular order, Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Indiana, UCLA, Duke). So, Coach Cal does wonders at Memphis, lands the Kentucky job.

Why?

Because all the powers that be in Lexington saw was the fancy boat with the gaudy performances specifications.

They neglected -- perhaps intentionally -- to look at the wake.

And it leaves one helluva wake, whatever port it travels to.

Excoriate Bob Knight and John Chaney all you want for their tempers, but they ran clean programs that didn't suffer from the types of problems that either Calipari created or seemingly follow him. Look, we didn't expect Kentucky to hire Knight (who may still be available) or a Jesuit, but in luring Calipari away from Memphis they certainly made some decisions about the type of program they want to run.

And it wouldn't appear that the decisions were all that hard to make, either.

Are we getting to the point where some of the distinctions between the elite Division I programs and the professional leagues are disappearing?

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