It’s Official: Kentucky gets Calipari

John Calipari is leaving Memphis to take the reins of the University of Kentucky.

Quick.  Everyone look surprised!

john-calipariCalipari agreed to an eight-year, $35 million deal. He gets a $2.5 million signing bonus and $3 million per year for the first four years. In years five through eight, Calipari will receive $4.5 million annually. Incentives increase the deal to $35 million.

Todd said he was unaware of any effort to raise private funds to supplement Calipari’s pay.

In terms of players as well as coach, Calipari’s move may prove Kentucky’s gain and Memphis’ setback.

Several players or recruits spoke of leaving Memphis and joining him at Kentucky.

In Miami for Wednesday’s McDonald’s All-American Game, heralded prospect DeMarcus Cousins (who had committed to Memphis) told The Miami Herald on Tuesday that he spoke with Calipari before the decision was made.

“I’m trying to stay focused right now and have fun,” Cousins said. “When I get back home, it’s time to get back down to business. I did get a chance to talk to Coach Cal, and he said he was considering the job. Now I’m basically waiting like everybody else to see what he does.”

Another McDonald’s All-American committed to Memphis, Xavier Henry, said he would reopen the process.

“I could get out of my letter of intent if he wasn’t there for any reason,” Henry told reporters in Miami. “It reopens my whole recruitment to everybody and anybody.”

Meanwhile, point guard Tyreke Evans, who won several national Freshman of the Year honors this past season, told FoxSports.com that he was leaving Memphis for a shot at the NBA.

“If he’s leaving, I’m not staying,” Evans told FoxSports.com. “Coach leaving did it for me. …

“I’m shocked he left, especially with the class he had coming in. I know it was tough for him, but it was his dream job. You can’t get mad at him for that.”

Calipari fits the criteria Kentucky desired after firing Billy Gillispie on Friday: a well-rounded coach who can perform the UK job’s varied duties on and off the court.

In terms of coaching, Calipari is one of only 13 coaches to take two schools to a Final Four. He guided Massachusetts in 1996 and Memphis in 2008 to college basketball’s grandest stage.

Only Rick Pitino has taken three schools to a Final Four: Providence (1987), Kentucky (1993, 1996 and 1997) and Louisville (2005).

Calipari has compiled a record of 445-140 in 17 seasons as a college head coach. That includes a nine-season record of 252-69 at Memphis.

More at KentuckySports.com

Billy Clyde Gillispie shown the UK door

It has been the grist of rumor mills all over SEC chat rooms, and it is now official. Billy Gillispie is no longer the head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky. After a two year run, the PTB@UK decided that finishing in the middle of the pack in a mediocre basketball league was, in a word, unacceptable.

Make no mistake about it SEC fans, the league has been down for the last couple of years, and until the level of talent catches up with the other power conferences, the league will remain mired in mediocrity. Getting the talent is every bit the responsibility of the head coach, just as much as gametime X’s and O’s. Gillispie, it seemed, was unable to excel in either area.

Kentucky must excel in college basketball. Gillespie couldn’t get it done. Simple as that.

Reminds me of Richard Williams during MSU’s FF run in ’96 when he sarcastically said to an interviewer, “yeah, I guess we’re a crummy league: Kentucky and the 11 Dwarves.” Even though he was joking, there was a lot of truth in that statement as to how the league is perceived in the national sports media. Arkansas has had some nice runs, so has Florida. MSU, LSU, and others have made some noise in the big dance. But Kentucky is the blue blooded royalty of the conference.

Speaking of Arkansas, it must have really irked long time Hawg Fans to see Mike Anderson’s Mizzou team use “40 minutes of hell” to put Memphis to bed last night. I know the Arkansas faithful were tired of Nolan Richardson’s mouth, and Anderson was part of his regime, but his system was always a tough out. And, the rest of the conference probably looked kind of longingly at Mike’s team last night too. Any one of them could have gotten him from UAB. Oh well, spilled milk and all.

BTW Kentucky fans, the rumor is that Billy Donovan will take over the helm in Lexington (didn’t we just go through that?). Now, I’ve got a question for you. If Billy D.’s last two years at Florida would have occurred at Kentucky, would you now be showing him the door?

/just sayin!

P.S.
the rumors that MSU’s Kodi Augustus was planning on transferring were put to bed today. “I love Mississippi State,” said Augustus, as reported by CL’s Kyle Veazey. That means the top 7 starters and reserves return for next season. Time to hit the weight room and bulk up. If anything, this year’s Big Dance shows that the Big East is as good as advertised, and the one thing they can all do well is grind it out in the half-court. That requires muscle in the front court.

Read more:
Billy G out at Kentucky

Gillespie the latest victim of Kentucky pride

Kentucky pulls trigger; Arkansas shows patience

From Channel 11:

UK News conference – Part 1 | Part 2

Gillispie runs from WHAS11’s Mark Hebert

LIVE CHAT: Cats and Cards

Gillispie Out: As it broke on WHAS11 News

Continuing WHAS11 Gillispie coverage

WHAS11 Gillispie announcement

P.P.S.: Want to know why Memphis’ Calipari won’t be offered the gig at UK? Calps’ last two teams were good enough to win it all, but they fell short. Free Throws. They couldn’t hit their free throws, and it cost them two National Championships. Can you imagine a Kentucky team hittingless than 60% of their free throws? I can’t either. Calipari can get the talent, true, but it’s the little things that separate great teams from championships.

P.P.P.S.: Alabama hires Anthony Grant (Donovan protege)

A Miami, Fla., native, Grant is no stranger to the Southeastern Conference having served 10 years on the staff at Florida, five years (1996-2001) as an assistant coach and five years as associate head coach under Billy Donovan (2002-06). Grant helped lead the Gators to their first national title in 2006 and laid the groundwork for UF’s 2007 national championship before departing for VCU. While on the Florida staff, the Gators won the SEC Tournament in 2005 and 2006, captured three SEC Eastern Division titles (2000, 2001 and 2002) and earned back-to-back SEC Championships in 2000 and 2001. In 1999 and 2000, the program made its first back-to-back ‘Sweet 16’ appearances in school history and appeared in the national championship game in 2000. During Grant’s time in Gainesville, the Gators advanced to the NCAA Tournament in eight straight seasons and compiled a 226-98 (.698) record.

Noted as a strong recruiter, Grant recruited and coached nine McDonald’s All-Americans and seven NBA first-round draft picks at Florida. Four of his last seven recruiting classes at UF were ranked in the top five nationally. At VCU his 2007 recruiting class was ranked as the fifth best in the mid-major ranks.

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