According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, John Calipari has informed the Memphis brass that he will be leaving his post as the Memphis Tigers basketball coach and he has accepted the job offer from the University of Kentucky to fill the coaching post that was vacated after Billy Gillespie got the boot. The deal is reported to be 38 million greenbacks for 8 years, which would make Calipari the highest paid coach in college basketball.
When the word got out that Calipari was considering the position, the buzz around the Bluegrass State was so thick that one would have thought that the Wildcats were playing in the Final Four. Unfortunately, the Cats missed the NCAA tournament this year for the first time in 18 years. However the buzz comes from the fact that Calipari led U-Mass to the Final Four in 1996 and Memphis to the championship game last year. Kentucky also needed a high profile coach with Final Four experience who could attract top recruits.
In his nine years at Memphis, Calipari posted a record of 252-68. Add this record to his Final Four experience and there is no wonder that UK fans are hyped since the once storied basketball program at the University of Kentucky has pretty much been flushed down the toilet over the past few years. Here in Kentucky, we take basketball pretty seriously. As the 'Cats go, so goes the Bluegrass State. Well that is just in case you aren't a Louisville fan.
With Patrick Patterson, Jodie Meeks and Perry Stevenson reported to return next year, UK hoops hopes look even brighter with Calipari at the helm. There is also the possibility that recruits who were slated to play for the Memphis Tigers could follow Calipari to Kentucky. Those recruits would be guard prospect Rolan Dennis, 6'6" wingman Xavier Henry and 6'10" center Demarcus Cousins. Team those three up with Meeks, Patterson and Stevenson and Kentucky could be a Final Four contender as early as next year.
Former UK coach Billy Gillispie seemed to be in good spirits after he was given his walking papers. During one interview, Billy acknowledged that he understood that he wasn't hired to take Kentucky to the NIT. In another interview, he stated that he considered his ousting from Kentucky ' a small bump in the road '. He seems to be relieved actually. He'll probably have a new high profile coaching job next year and those of us in Kentucky wish him the best of luck. We are sure that Billy G will be successful in his future endeavors.