First let me say congratulations to the Kentucky Wildcats. They are a great example of what happens when you put five guys on the floor who should be playing in the NBA against a team that has a player or two who may end up there (at least one, Robinson, will). I don’t hold any ill will towards these kids. They are 19 year olds who were handed a National Championship because they are talented (6 guys on the team headed to the NBA).
I don’t really respect the win, however. It is kind of like what the NBA has become with all these teams creating “super teams” by having superstars get together like Miami, LA, Boston, and NY have done. It isn’t all that impressive to win a championship when you get to have all the best players on your team. This is much the same way I felt about the NY Yankees for so many years. Unfortunately, my Red Sox and some other teams have joined them in compiling superstars to compete with teams that can’t afford any. Realistically, the Sox, Yanks, Tigers, Phillies and others who adhere to this tactic should be embarrassed every time they don’t win a championship (which is why I still say the Yankees are the biggest losers in baseball…. Highest team salary in the game and not nearly enough rings to show for it).
Kentucky should have been ashamed if they failed to win a championship. Carolina is much the same way, but at least they had key injuries to blame. But this isn’t about the boys that played on the floor tonight. It isn’t their fault that college basketball has become what it has become. No, this is the fault of people like John Calipari.
Let me be clear, I cannot stand Calipari. There are two main reasons for this:
1. I don’t like his approach to the game. To blatantly go out and make it your stated path that you will take all the kids that are one year college and jump to the pros players is the antithesis of what college basketball was supposed to be about. Fortunately for many years his plan has failed. Tonight it succeeded. I fear what the repercussions will be for college basketball.
2. This guys is as crooked and dirty as they come.
Allow me to offer a few facts about Calipari. The other night it was noted that Rick Pitino is the only coach in college basketball history to take three different programs to the Final Four. Quite an accomplishment. However, this statistic comes with an asterisk…. because Calipari has also done so. Calipari took the UMass Minutemen there in 1996, the Memphis Tigers there in 2008, and Kentucky there this year So why would it be noted that Pitino is the only guy to do so? That would be because neither the UMass OR the Memphis teams count for Calipari. BOTH were vacated by the NCAA after it was found that those programs violated eligibility or recruiting rules. In other words, it was found that Calipari cheated to win in both previous cases.
I will assume that the Kentucky win tonight will be vacated a few years from now.
So while Pitino is the only coach to have taken three different programs to the Final Four, Calipari is left with the distinction of being the only coach to have multiple Final Four appearances vacated by the NCAA.
And what makes it so much worse for me is that Calipari has never had to deal with the consequences of his actions. You see, he bolted to coach the NBA’s Nets just before the NCAA announced the trouble UMass was in. The future UMass players suffered the consequences but Calipari suffered none. And then he bolted Memphis to coach Kentucky in 2009, when it became clear that Memphis was in trouble. The future Memphis players suffered the consequences but Calipari suffered none.
That makes him a dirtbag.
So pardon me for throwing up a little in my mouth every time the announcers in tonight’s title game mentioned Calipari’s legacy being enhanced by a National title. Because from where I sit, Calipari’s legacy is one of skirting the rules, leaving programs in disarray as he left for other coaching jobs, and now winning a national championship by flaunting his disdain for what college basketball was supposed to be.
I get it, we can’t fix this college basketball problem until we figure out a way to make up for the fact that the schools themselves are bringing in millions of dollars on the backs of athletes who get nothing but a scholarship (although that is a lot more than nothing). But none of that changes the fact that Calipari is a sleazy coach who obviously doesn’t do things within the rules that the other schools have to follow. I don’t deny that there are others out there breaking the rules. But I can’t stand this one of them is being celebrated while we all ignore is very dirty past.
There is my rant for the night. Sorry to bore most of you with my sports babble. I have an article almost finished that should go up tomorrow or the next day so that we can get back to politics…
In the mean time…. Screw John Calipari