Considering the school just gave him what has been called a "lifetime contract," most people in Lexington are pretty content with the job John Calipari has done. The head coach has received criticism from some high-profile people in the Kentucky community this off-season.
Last month, Wildcats great Kyle Macy took aim at the national championship-winning coach. He said that he didn't feel welcome back with the Wildcats as a former player.
He also criticized Calipari's focus on vaulting players to the NBA. It has clearly helped Kentucky's recruiting, but some think it is at odds with the annual goal of winning a national title.
Macy isn't alone in that belief, as it turns out.
Kentucky basketball and football broadcasting legend Ralph Hacker is a new inductee in the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame. Ahead of that honor, he appeared on The Terry Meiners Showand said he agreed with Macy about John Calipari.
“What he has done, and people will probably have a hard time drawing this relation, he has recruited every year for an NCAA championship,” he said. “He says it’s for one-and-done, and perhaps it is. But you don’t go [for] one-and-done [guys] unless you have NCAA championship-type players on there. That’s what Sutton tried to do. He had it all planned out to where if he got this player this year, this player, and this player, he could build up a dynasty of where it was just a matter of getting one player the next year and win that NCAA championship many times. Cal has pretty much done that. And if they had stayed [as opposed to entering the draft], he certainly would have done it.”
“I know Kyle Macy took a lot of heat for what he said. But I [told him] “I think you’re right.”I said they’re shortchanging the fans by doing what we’re doing now,” he said. “Even though we’re proud of the University of Kentucky basketball team, we cheer for them, pay for the tickets, all that stuff, but in the end, you’re not doing right by the fan.”
The crux of Hacker's argument is probably correct. More than anything else, Wildcat fans want to see national championships. While it seems like a hard, maybe even unrealistic standard, it does feel a bit weird that Coach Cal only has one national title.
John Calipari's public focus on the NBA is clearly a recruiting ploy though, and by recruiting the best players, he puts UK in better position to win the national title. While the trophy has only come to Lexington once in his tenure, there have been plenty of near misses, and while that only does so much to satiate a fan base, in college basketball, you really can only hope to put a team in a position to make a run.
The one-and-done nature of the sport as a whole, and the NCAA Tournament makes consistency a real challenge, and despite constant turnover, Cal's team is almost always in the mix come March. It is hard to realistically expect more than that.