Assistant Sports Editor
Why does someone else’s success bring pain? Why, wherever there is success, does there have to be hate as well? And why, when something is super successful, like, say, NCAA National Champions, is there unbelievable hate from writers, analysts, fans, players and coaches?
The person that has it all right now is John Calipari, the coach of the Kentucky Wildcats. Calipari just experienced the highest level of success in the whole sport of college basketball. With that came a trip up the ladder to cut down the nets, a championship ring and more abundantly, a whole lot of hate coming in from all around the country.
Let’s just get a few things out of the way with Calipari because we all know everyone makes mistakes. Everyone knows about Marcus Camby and the jewelry, and everyone knows about Derrick Rose and the SATs. I am so confident in my argument that Cal is the best coach around, and that the hate needs to be subsided, that I’m not afraid to bring up those two issues and address them and get them out of the way. He cheated to put the best product on the floor, but that in no way changes how great of a coach he is and how unwarranted all this hate is.
The most common argument against Calipari is that he is ruining the purity of college basketball by recruiting a bunch of “one-and-done” players. But Calipari didn’t make the rule, and he isn’t even a fan of the rule, so treating him like he was the one that created the rule and like he created it just for his benefit is ignorant and wrong.
What do you want Coach Cal to do? He has two choices – recruit the best players in the country and have their services for one year or to ignore the one-and-done players and recruit guys he can build a program around. We all know the choice he made, and just ask Kansas coach Bill Self or forward Thomas Robinson if it works.
The hating isn’t limited to fans or writers, as Louisville head coach Rick Pitino got in on the action. Pitino had this to say.
“I couldn’t do it. I can’t say hello and goodbye in seven months. It’s just not me.”
He’s taking a jab at Calipari, understandably after Kentucky eliminated Louisville in the Final Four. But also understand this: Pitino is lying. Pitino desperately tried to get Kentucky point guard Marquis Teague to come to Louisville. Teague is most likely a one-and-done player, so had Pitino succeeded in recruiting him, I’m sure it would have pained Pitino to say goodbye after just seven months. Pitino also heavily recruited eventual UConn big man Andre Drummond who, yes, you guessed it, was a one-and-done player. He also signed Sebastian Telfair, out of high school, who was none-and-done as he went straight to the NBA. So don’t throw stones while living in that glass house, Rick.
The next argument that people include in their jealous, hating rants on Calipari is that anyone can coach the players he recruits to the Final Four and it doesn’t take a great coach to roll out the ball and let the best players in the country go play. I don’t think so. I do think it takes a great coach to get preseason SEC Player of the Year Terrence Jones to buy into a team philosophy that had him as the third-leading scorer on his own team. I do think it takes a great coach to get Darius Miller, a starter since his sophomore season, to buy into coming off the bench as a senior. I do think getting six NBA draft picks to play together as a team for one year in college requires a lot of hard work, and only a great coach could do it.
The last portion of the argument is that Calipari brings players to Kentucky’s prestigious university to only play basketball, with no attention to academics. (Gasp!) You mean to tell me these guys chose Kentucky because they wanted to play there? And not because they shadowed a student through the university’s College of Fine Arts?
I’ll leave you with this. Coach Cal is hated by many, and his players are viewed as basketball players only. Coach K of Duke is loved by all and his players are viewed as student-athletes. Coach K has recruited back-to-back one-and-done players at the point guard position, but no one bats an eye. Coach Cal had Brandon Knight, a one-and-done point guard, carry a 4.0 GPA during his time on campus. Also, Coach Cal had a player transfer from his team and ultimately become a starter for Cornell during their tournament run, so people need to get their facts straight as far as UK’s academics.
Success is always going to breed a slew of hate from the rest of the world, especially in a case like John Calipari’s. You won’t find any hate coming from me, as Coach Cal operates in the same way as many other college coaches, and he is the best at what he does. Period.