In the whirlwind of coaching changes this past spring, I found some of the comments about coaches to be quite interesting. As John Calipari was the biggest name to switch schools, I’ll use him as an example.
Calipari was the coach of the Memphis Tigers through the end of the season. I’m guessing that if a poll of Kentucky fans were taken in mid-March, the majority would have felt that Calipari bends the rules to get the best recruits. I don’t know him or his recruits so I honestly couldn’t say what he does or doesn’t do. This is simply about the perception of the fans. If a similar poll had been taken of Memphis fans, he would probably have been exonerated by the majority.
Now fast forward a month. Calipari leaves Memphis for a huge payday at Kentucky. Many of the big-name recruits also decided to leave Memphis. Soon after he took the job at Kentucky, there were allegations of wrongdoing at Memphis. When reading the comments that followed the numerous stories, the Kentucky fans were his biggest supporters. He would never do anything wrong and nothing bad would ever happen at Kentucky. Of course the Memphis fans were venting about how he destroyed their program with his wrongdoing.
Now I’m a Kansas fan so I definitely find some amusement watching this all play out from a distance. Yet I understand the feelings all too well. I was a huge Roy Williams fan. That is until he took the job at North Carolina. While it helped to beat William’s Tarheels in the 2008 Final Four, I doubt I will ever cheer for his teams in the near future.
As for Calipari, there have been some frustrating moments when he has gotten a top recruit that I would have loved to see on the court for the Jayhawks. Yet his teams have played the Jayhawks twice and have lost both times. The first game was when KU beat #1 ranked UMass in the Wooden Classic and the most recent was in the Championship game of the 2008 Final Four over his favored Memphis Tigers. So as long as we keep beating him on the court, I won’t dislike him too much. That can certainly change so stay tuned for the upcoming season to see what happens.