Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Memphis Man

If you read this blog at all, you might know that one of my bigger pet peeves with college hoops are coaches who have some success and then cash in their chips and move to a so-called bigger program in a so-called bigger conference. Sure, sometimes it works out for them, but oftentimes, all they get out of it is a bigger bank account and a stalled career, not to mention the good thing they left behind.

Say what you will about John Calipari, and plenty has been said about the guy, both good and bad, but he made a wise decision in turning down bigger bucks from North Carolina State to stay at Memphis. Yeah, this may come as a surprise to some folks who believe the ACC is hallowed and sacred, but Calipari isn't dumb. The Tigers are huge in Memphis. Hell, before the Grizzlies arrived, they were the biggest - and, really, only - show in town. The city loves the team and they play in an NBA arena. With more seasons like the one recently completed, Calipari could be king in Memphis.

So why leave to be just another name in the world of hoops in North Carolina?

He knows that by playing in Conference USA, he has a solid formula for success already set up, as was displayed this past season: schedule a tough nonconference schedule, roll through the depleted C-USA, rack up about 25 wins and earn a high seed in the NCAA tourney. There is little reason to believe that Calipari and Memphis can't do this on an annual basis. They could be reminiscint of UNLV in the old Big West.

Toss in the hotbed that is Memphis high school hoops, and Calipari has settled into some longterm success quite nicely. He's always been an great recruiter, and with a pipeline of talent right there within walking distance of the campus, he has a beautiful thing going.

Besides, Calipari and Memphis are a compatible fit. Calipari will always carry baggage as a coach without a squeaky clean image, but the same goes for the Memphis program. The Tigers had run-ins with the NCAA long before Calipari arrived. That's not to say that Calipari wants to stay simply because he'll be allowed to bend the rules with more ease. But why should Calipari take his salesmen schtick into the stuffy atmosphere of Tobacco Road to compete with goodie goodie gum drops like Coach K and Roy Williams? Not only would wins be harder to come by, but Calipari would never match up to guys who are placed on pedestals as supposedly all that is good about college hoops.

Calipari is better off right where he's at. And he was smart enough to see it, extra money be damned - and the money from NC State would have been a big jump. It's nice to see a coach, for once, thinking with common sense instead of with dollar signs in his eyes.

My hat is off to him.


Anonymous priest, they called me said...

While your hat is off, do take a moment to reflect on Coaches K and Williams who ARE the image of all that is good in college can put it back on now.

10:20 AM  
Blogger UnknownColumn said...

Well, according to Coach K's commercials, yes, you are correct.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous priest, they called me said...

Commercials...commercials...Nope, doesn't ring a bell.

9:50 AM  

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