Thursday, May 28, 2009

Reactions to Calipari from around the web

Before we get into the links, here is the latest on the John Calipari-Derrick Rose fiasco:

  • Michael O'Brien of the Chicago Sun-Times did some digging, and is reporting that a former high school teammate of Derrick Rose was the one to take the test for him.
  • O'Brien also got a revealing, and possibly damning, quote from Luther Topps, who used to coach Rose during the summer:
    "Tim told me the NCAA kept bothering him," Topps said. "That if he didn’t talk they were going to take away his eligibility. [The NCAA] thinks that [former Simeon player Kevin Johnson] took [the SAT test] for him."

    Simeon coach Robert Smith declined to comment on the situation.

    "[Smith and I] didn’t know anything about his test," Topps said. "Reggie moved me and him out of the way long before that, as soon as the money got involved."
    Money was involved?

    Topps later clarified the quote. From Gary Parrish's "The Thoughts":
    "What (I meant) by 'money involved,' is that (I was moved out) when they started smelling the money as far as (Derrick) getting rich," Topps said. "That's what (I) mean. ... (I) was talking about (money as in) when the kid turned pro."
As we have now had some time to digest the third program to suffer the embarrassment of a major NCAA violation in the three months, lets take a quick look at the reactions from some of the sports most well-known names.
  • Jeff Goodman of FOXSports: If there is any punishment, that burden likely will fall to Memphis, its fans and brand new 31-year-old head coach Josh Pastner, who declined comment. Calipari already has raided his old program and taken two probable starters in DeMarcus Cousins and Darnell Dodson — and also reeled in one of the nation's top point guards in Eric Bledsoe — who chose Kentucky over Memphis. In less than two months, Calipari has put together a team that could go from the NIT to the preseason No. 1 team in the country. He's done it with his unparalleled salesmanship, which helped him persuade big man Patrick Patterson to withdraw from the NBA Draft and helped him lure the nation's top recruit, John Wall, as well as several other impact players. On the same day his old program was hit with NCAA allegations, his new one was in the news as well. Wall, who signed with Kentucky last week, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor breaking and entering on Wednesday. It's been difficult enough for Memphis fans to watch their one-time coach build an instant powerhouse with players who should have been theirs, but now the Calipari regime could bring more pain — in the form of potential NCAA sanctions against Memphis.
  • Gary Parrish of CBSSports: Fair or not, everything the Wildcat's new coach accomplished at UMass and Memphis is now tainted, which means everything he;s about to accomplish at Kentucky will be accomplished while the average sports fan rolls his eyes. This is reality. Because perception is reality. And when a long-established perception is back by allegations of major NCAA violations at two different schools, the general public doesn't care about the off-the-hook letters from the NCAA that a coach might possess. Nobody remembers the details, just the headlines.
  • Geoff Calkins of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal: Calipari is not personally implicated in any of the allegations. Of course he's not. He wasn't implicated in the UMass fiasco, either. He just happened to be in charge when the bad stuff happened at UMass. He just happened to be in charge when the bad stuff may have happened at Memphis. The man is to NCAA investigations as Joey Dorsey was to bar fights. He's just unlucky, darn it!
  • Luke Winn of SI: In Memphis' locker room shortly after its heartbreaking overtime loss to Kansas in the 2008 national championship game, forward Chris Douglas-Roberts tried to console teammate Joey Dorsey by telling him, "The Fab Five never won a title." Douglas-Roberts' belief was that the Tigers were an iconic team, like Michigan's 1992 and '93 squads, that wouldn't be forgotten despite their lack of title rings. He most certainly wasn't expecting that the Tigers, like the Wolverines, might eventually have to vacate their title-game appearance. The irony in that analogy is now thick.
  • A Sea of Blue: But assuming that no surprises crawl out of the woodwork implicating Coach Cal, I think we should all reread this sage advice and once again, embrace the hate. "Why," you ask? Because if you are honest with yourself, you know as well as I do that if St. Peter himself came down from Heaven and testified in open court that John Calipari was as blameless as a newborn babe in any and all these allegations, it would not matter one iota to this program's detractors, nor to many who find Calipari's occasional close proximity to NCAA violations troubling. That's the way the game is played, and the only antidote is skin as thick as an M1A1 Abrams' armor. Many of us were glad to have Coach Cal, and we got him, warts, baggage and all. So embrace that hate, Big Blue Nation, and take pleasure in the loathing. I know I will. It is fun urinating of the schadenfreude of others, and watching them contort themselves into a tizzy to create self-deluded hopes of NCAA sanctions to come. It makes me laugh out loud to see logic tortured to the point of screaming agony. Parsing Coach Cal's occasional cryptic tweets just adds to the aura of suspicion. Have fun with it. As for the tut-tutting of the mainstream sports media, what the heck is new about that? We had to listen to it during Gillispie's tenure, and we'll have to hear about it during Calipari's. Lighten up and appreciate the irony. My guess is, you'll have plenty of opportunities to gloat in the faces of both rivals and media elites over the next few years, and headlines about UK reaching new heights will no doubt take the sting out of all the hand-wringing and grim pontificating you'll have to put up with over the next few weeks.
  • Rick Bozich of the Louisville Courier-Journal: Calipari was available to fill the UK position two years ago when Barnhart hired Gillispie from Texas A&M. Even Calipari has joked that he didn't understand why he didn't get the call in 2007. One reason Cal didn't get the call then was that he has the reputation of a guy who will push, push and push it to the limit of NCAA rules. He's never been tagged with an NCAA violation, but you'll no longer find a record of his Massachusetts team in the 1996 Final Four. The appearance was vacated because of a situation involving center Marcus Camby. UK didn't need a coach on the radar of the NCAA enforcement folks. Barnhart passed on Calipari and hired Gillispie. Gillispie bombed. One year off a national runner-up appearance, Calipari looked better. Much better after UK's NIT season. In fact, Calipari looked so good that Barnhart and UK President Lee Todd hired him — and assured everybody that the hiring had the approval of the NCAA as well as Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive. That was April 1. Oops. It turns out that on Jan. 16 the University of Memphis received a letter from the NCAA alleging three violations in the Tigers' basketball program.
  • Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports: Now Kentucky has its dream coach and its worst nightmare all at the same time. They can wash away their frustrations of defending what did or didn’t happen back in Memphis with visions of clipped nets in the springs to come. That’s what the Memphis fans used to do too.
  • Eamonn Brennan of The Dagger: The biggest fallout here could be related to John Calipari. After all, his hire at Kentucky has made the biggest college hoops coaching splash in recent memory, and the only temper to UK's enthusiasm has been the uncomfortable notion that Calipari's past has its share of clear calls with the NCAA. This is another. Maybe it's nothing; maybe Calipari escapes from this unscathed, just like before. Or maybe not. Maybe this is the one that finally brings Calipari down. That's the outcome Kentucky fans -- and college basketball fans at large, honestly -- don't want to think about.

1 comment:

Kyle said...

best article i've read on the matter...