A Few Thoughts on John Calipari
(Pico’s note: this is by Raycroft, the head and Reverend of the Church of Bracketology.)
What a strange couple of weeks in College Hoops have just passed. I am not even going to touch the Pitino story. We will save that for another day.
But, I do have a serious gripe with the John Calipari/Memphis situation and as the Reverend of The First Church of Bracketology, it is hard for me to just sit back and be quiet. (And, thanks to The East Coast Bias for providing me the forum.)
All I hear from people, time and time again, is how John Calipari is dirty and it is ‘only a matter of time’ before it catches up to him. It’s a simple thought because in these times of steroids and hanging chads, there is a natural skepticism from anyone when someone the other side excels to the top.
John Calipari has coached two Final Four teams and both times they have been vacated. That’s right, Memphis too. See, it’s happening again. But, what is he guilty of? What has he done wrong? What rules has he broken?
…I’m still waiting.
Exactly. According to the NCAA, absolutely nothing.
In the case of UMass, it was Marcus Camby who took money from an agent, forcing the NCAA to retroactively declare him ineligible thus vacating their Final Four and their wins. Honestly, anyone that knows college sports knows that coaches sometimes break the rules to recruit a player – which may involve money – but a coach is never going to suggest that his player break the rules freely on his own. If Cal knew anything about the Camby taking money from an agent beforehand, it would be to advise him against it because he knows the repercussions. And, if he knew about it after the fact, he certainly would not blow the whistle. The argument that Cal was behind that is ridiculous Roveian spin. I have argued this many times with the Barstool Pundits I have met over time. It goes a little something like this:
BP: Well, you know he know he was paying Camby anyway.
Me: I don’t believe that.
BP: Come on, we all know that.
Me: Really, What evidence do you have?
BP: You just know it.
Wow, so simple. We have many lawyers who are members of the Church of Bracketology, and I’m sure that none of them would even think of walking into to a court room with that as his or her case (I like to believe that my friends are a little bit intelligent.) I have not seen any evidence to make that case, so until then I do not believe that Cal was involved with Camby’s incident. But, I will also admit that it is possible that Cal has some violated rules to get where is. I am not going to just ‘know that’ because he seems to be very very good at his job. I think I am the only person who ever asked the question, “Could he just be that good?”
With Memphis going down this week, the Barstool Pundits have now made their case, so they think. Seriously, that tells you something when the same coach has another Final Four vacated for playing an ineligible player. However, once you dig into the case, unlike the UMass case, which was pretty straight forward, you find some major problems with how the NCAA handled it. First, the NCAA Clearinghouse ruled Derrek Rose eligible to play by NCAA rules. Calipari started him. Then the NCAA says his SAT scores were ruled invalid, thus making him ineligible. When Memphis questioned the NCAA Infractions Committee because the NCAA Clearinghouse made the error, the Infractions Committee said the Clearinghouse couldn’t be trusted to be accurate. Really?? They are the same people! There is so much more to the Rose case too which screams of incompetence, it is amazing that this got as far as it did without a smoking gun. But, that is another story.
Despite what the Barstool Pundits believe, in both the UMass and Memphis situations, the NCAA did not rule that John Calipari committed any infractions. Therefore he is not punished, so the NCAA had each school’s Final Four vacated.
The question still stands – Is he that good? There is no doubt that he is ‘that good’ of game coach, ‘that good’ of an ambassador to the community and the media. But, is he ‘that good’ of a recruiter to land top players at little schools. Or, is he just ‘that good’ at hiding it all; the Ronald Reagan of college hoops, which nothing sticks to? Since my agenda is to enjoy college hoops and not rip people down without evidence because they ‘seem shady’, I will believe the first one.
Reverend M.J. Raycroft
The First Church of Bracketology
I highly suggest reading two stories:
1. Matt Vautour’s (UMass beat writer) article about vacating Final Fours:
2. Mike Decourcy (College Hoops correspondent to Sporting News) article about how Memphis should not get penalized: