In a column at ESPN.com, college hoops analyst Dick Vitale says new UK coach John Calipari is getting a raw deal from many college hoops pundits.
I am tired of the John Calipari bashing.
It seems like there are columns and radio talk show hosts firing away against the new Kentucky coach because of the NCAA’s investigation into his former school, Memphis.
For those bashing the coach, take a break! How guilty is this guy? Do you really think he went out of his way to make sure someone took an SAT for Derrick Rose? Do you think he made sure an agent laid cash on Marcus Camby at Massachusetts?
This guy has been bashed and bashed, and in every case he has been cleared of involvement by NCAA investigators. Isn’t that enough?
The answer is no for those that have a personal agenda. I feel there are some envious people, jealous of his success. Remember, he did not come up in a pedigree situation.
Vitale says that because Calipari didn’t come up through more established college basketball channels, that he’s being made to pay for it by an establishment media.
Don’t know if I buy that. When you’ve taken two college programs to a Final Four, and each then caught significant heat because its BEST player was later ruled inelgibile, I think you’d better expect some criticism.
Maybe the level of criticism is higher because Calipari just went to Kentucky, and that job is so high profile. Vitale says “the bashers have had a field day,” and they have.
But really, what has been the effect of that? UK fans have ruffled, um, fur. But that’s about it. Calipari has reeled in the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class, by a large margin. The nation’s top prep players continue to list Calipari/UK high. Nothing has happened to compromise Calipari’s ability to turn UK back into the steamroller it is accustomed to being.
In the end, perhaps it just has come down to pundits blowing off steam. And as long as there’s no fire with that smoke, that’s all it will be.
Media outlets are going through Memphis with a fine-toothed comb, and that’s nothing unusual. It’s the first thing the media does when NCAA infractions are found — look for more. I’m surprised that UK’s current commitments haven’t gotten more scrutiny, but they probably will.
In the end, however, without a major development on this story, look for the storyline to return to Calipari’s big blue debut and the Cats’ return to prominence come the beginning of basketball season.