Some limb I’m climbing out on here, but I see no way John Calipari doesn’t take the Kentucky job. None. You could see this coming, particularly with the way recruiting was handled at Memphis this year. One player — DeMarcus Cousins — committed but never signed and another — John Wall– was waiting to make a move. Now comes word of a bizarre LOI crafted to give a kid unique freedom.
Carol Dennis, the mother of University of Memphis recruit Nolan Dennis, told The Commercial Appeal today that the letter-of-intent her son signed last fall contains an addendum that would allow him to follow Calipari to another school.
I’ve never heard of anything like that before. In fact, I thought the LOI was universal and specific in stating a student-athlete was making a pact with a school and most certainly not a coach. So, if this is true, it’s possibly the beginning of something new.
A few other things to note…
1. So much for Memphis joining the Big East
That’s not happening now. Unless the Tigers get a rock star coach, there goes the big ticket for the basketball program, which was more appealing for the concept of Big East inclusion than the warm body that is Memphis football. And it’s going to be hard to find a coach now. There’s a stigma to Memphis and CUSA and if Calipari got it as far as he did, it’s a tough act to follow. Reggie Theus? Please?
2. UK on WVU schedule
Huggins and Calipari are tight — Calipari’s cousin was actually in the ambulance working on Huggins as he headed to the hospital after his heart attack and the cousin told Huggins “We’re not going to let you die until John beats you at least once.” — and they were planning to play WVU v. Memphis soon, possibly beginning next season. WVU v. Kentucky seems like an inevitability, and a logical one, too.
3. Quality nonconference game in Charleston
Why not play WVU v. UK at the Charleston Civic Center, perhaps as a de facto homecoming for Patrick Patterson?
4. About No. 3 … this year?
It depends on who gets the Memphis job, but if WVU v. Memphis was to begin this year, there’s a chance the new coach might not want to play WVU right away and decides to push it back. Given how good UK could be next year and that Patterson figures to be a big reason why in his junior year, it might be his last shot to play near Huntington. When I last inquired, which wasn’t long ago, WVU didn’t have an opponent for it’s annual pre-Capital Classic game in Charleston.
5. Big money
$5M per year? Yikes. It not only raises the bar significantly for salaries and the price to pay for a salvation hire, but it will change the way people view how coaches are compensated for duties outside of coaching. Calipari’s appeal is he can handle the exposure and the responsibility Billy Gillispie could not. He’s got an awful lot of incentive to be more than just a coach right now.
Additionally — and this is a bit of a reach, but it’s fun to play along – Calipari’s salary affects other salaries. Say Louisville wants to reward Pitino and make sure it doesn’t have the other coach in Kentucky. So Pitino gets a sizeable bump in pay. Well, Jay Wright got further than Pitino and Villanova survived another round of offseason coach poaching. Villanova sees Pitino’s raise and decides to lock up Wright with a raise. But maybe Pitt isn’t as fortunate and has a brush with the coach poachers. Say Jamie Dixon declines Arizona, decides to stay at Pitt and accepts another extension and pay boost that keeps him at the top tier of Big East coaches. It goes on and on until Huggins sees a little of the action come his way.