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Mar 29th 2009

Horrible Coach Fired, ESPN Analysts Sure Kentucky Job is Impossible

To Digger Phelps, Dick Vitale, and Pat Forde, and other clueless ESPN analysts and anchors:

Update: add Dashiell Bennett (who might be a man or a woman, not sure) to the list of haters.

They also have some of the most ungrateful fans in North America. Winning a national championship (which Calipari has yet to do, by the way) is no job security when you’re coaching in Lexington.

Idiot, yes it is. It bought Tubby about 10 years of job security. If Kentucky had Memphis’ record since 2000, Tubby would still be in town. If Gillispie did at Kentucky what Calipari did upon arriving at Memphis or what Gillispie himself did at UTEP and Texas A&M, he would still be the coach of the Wildcats. All these people who have nothing but disgust for Kentucky fans need to realize what they are talking about. Calipari has called Kentucky the Notre Dame of college basketball. Like Kentucky basketball, Notre Dame football has not been itself for the past several years. Like Kentucky, the Irish have gone through a couple of coaching changes. But you don’t hear clueless commentators blaming the “unreasonable” Notre Dame fans for the team’s struggles.

Let’s get one thing straight. Kentucky is not an impossible coaching job. I do not understand how the aforementioned morons get this mental block in their heads and parrot it back every time they are asked for a comment on an open UK coaching position. The expectations are not too high at Kentucky. The fans are not too demanding at Kentucky. Analysts, please don’t throw up your hands and ask in a whiny, high-pitched voice, “What else do they want, these Kentucky fans?!”

Let me tell you why Kentucky fans are mad. Kentucky fans are mad because they have not been to a final four in over a decade now.

It’s been more than a decade since Kentucky has been to the Final Four. Three of the four teams meeting this weekend in Detroit have been there multiple times since then. Michigan State has been there five times (’99, 2000, ’01, ’05 and ’09). North Carolina has been four (2000, ’05, ’08 and ’09). Connecticut has been three (1999, ’04, ’09). [Source: John Clay]

Kentucky fans are mad because under Billy Gillispie, UK lost to the likes of Gardner-Webb, VMI, San Diego, Houston, and (gulp) Georgia. Under Billy Gillispie, UK failed to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in 17 years (and if the sanctions years don’t count, like 27 years).

I could go on. Billy had a reputation for being drunk around town. Billy refused to sign his contract. Billy became the first UK coach to skip the Rotary dinner in 60 years. Billy lost the last four games of the regular season for the first time since like 1907. Gillispie drove players away.

Derrick Jasper transferred to UNLV during the summer; Alex Legion left for Illinois after just one semester with Gillispie; DeAndre Liggins refused to re-enter a game against Kansas State in Liggins’ native Las Vegas, but Gillispie played him 30 minutes to next game; and now AJ Stewart, who quit the team on Feb. 26th after playing just three minutes against South Carolina, only to rejoin the team the next day. [source]

Gillispie’s player, administration, and media problems are detailed extensively at the Kentucky Sports Radio Blog. Gillispie was odd. He had that infamous halftime interview with a girl reporter where he acted like a complete arse. You can probably find it on YouTube. I never listen to the coach’s call-in show, but the one time I happened to be listening, he was a jerk to the fan who took the trouble to call and ask him a question.

UK is the winningest college basketball program in history. The school has everything a coach could ever dream of. UK fills an NBA-sized, 23,000-seat arena for its home games. Heck, it fills the arena for the first practice of the season (“midnight madness”), which is also televised nationally.

Kentucky has a loyal, nationwide fan base. UK has a brand new $32 million dollar practice facility located about a 12-second jog away from the players’ private lodge. UK has 7 national titles, about 30 SEC titles, and gobs of lore and tradition to go with those.

Kentucky is not an impossible place to coach. If someone can come in and meet a few simple benchmarks, he’ll be fine. Here is my clifnotes guide to not getting fired from a UK basketball head coaching job:

1. Don’t forget to recruit.

2. Don’t mind being the most famous person in the state.

3. Don’t lose to horribly weak and overmatched teams on your home court, especially on opening night, senior night, etc.

4. Don’t lose more than 10 games in two consecutive seasons.

5. Don’t miss the NCAA tournament.

6. Don’t not make the final four for eight years.

7. Don’t go 4 or 5 years without an SEC regular season or tournament title.

8. Don’t act like a jerk to your players, administration, fans, and the media until after you have achieved some actual results on the court.

Et cetera. Everyone at ESPN who says Kentucky fans are too demanding doesn’t understand what we’ve been through in the past decade, and particularly the past four years. This is not Kentucky basketball. All we want is to compete for a national title consistently. Kentucky fans would be overjoyed if Calipari came to Lexington and did exactly what he has done at Memphis for the last nine years.

John Calipari’s stats. Pretty impressive.

More on Calipari and the fit with UK. I’m getting excited:

Calipari’s the right coach for Kentucky

With Calipari at UK, the SEC will become a hardwood destination

The Door!

It’s official: Kentucky hires Calipari

4 Responses to “Horrible Coach Fired, ESPN Analysts Sure Kentucky Job is Impossible”

  1. Jeff

    That pretty much sums it up. Nice article

  2. Miguel


    The expectations of the UK “faithful” are unrealistic becasue they include beating UofL.

    Not gonna happen, so no coach will ever be good enough.

  3. Absolutly correct. Tubby represented everything a UK coach would be asked of except recruit. Billy was unconcious of what the job asked except maby recruiting. Thanks for your comitts. Danny Cloud

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