Thursday, April 16, 2009
Behind The Scoreboard
Let me begin this column with an apology of sorts. In the past I have remarked that I am reluctant to spur the deceased equine but in this instance I feel that this is entirely necessary. “This” being the John Calipari saga. And if “saga” doesn’t do it for you, please feel free to insert intrigue or mystery.
This past week I have been privy to loads of comments and queries about Coach Cal’s future at the University of Memphis. Apparently, yours truly wasn’t the only one who was having those nagging feelings that all was not completely well and joyous in Tiger Land. And almost from first to last, the sentiment was that it was not all about the money. Well, not totally. Discount, if you will, for the moment that the deal at the home of the Wildcats makes Calipari the highest paid coach in the NCAA. Consider ambition.
We couldn’t have possibly known that one of Calipari’s lifelong dreams was a head coaching stint at Kentucky. According to his own much publicized accounts, he had always harbored the undying desire to one day be a part of the well-renowned program which Adolph Rupp had instituted. Can anyone of us denigrate him for realizing such a lofty longing? Haven’t each of us sought a “holy grail” at some point?
Personally, I find no fault with the decision. My only problem is the subterfuge. Wouldn’t it have been more propitious to say simply that any, and all, transitional offers would be weighed and considered in accordance with their individual merit? Some of us can remember one Tommy Tuberville making similar statements a few years ago at Ole Miss.
There are those who have cast disapproving glances at the athletic hierarchy at Memphis for not employing a national search team. This writer applauds such a decision. Why lay out that kind of dough when you already know what you want and need?
If one were to poll the coaches in C-USA, one would probably find the majority is still celebrating Calipari’s move. And just look at the livelihood of coaches who have been greatly enhanced at Cal’s departure.
Did Tiger bosses make the right choice in finally selecting a suitable replacement? True, they missed the “Pearl of great price” (a completely remote possibility at best), but as singer Brook Benton would croon, “sometimes the treasure you seek is close at hand.”
Josh Pastner has tremendous shoes to fill, but observing his press exposure to date, one thing is certain, he has obviously inherited his predecessor’s “gift of gab.”
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