All right, it’s Monday, so let’s just get this out of the way early in the week:
Regardless of what happens Saturday at the Final Four – and potentially Monday in the national championship game – John Calipari is staying at Kentucky. People can talk about Calipari having nothing left to accomplish or prove at the college level – and there’s certainly some merit to that argument – but Calipari is staying.
Why? Because Calipari likes control. And money. And winning.
So all the Calipari-to-the-NBA talk is just that: talk.
“Here’s one thing that people who make that statement should understand,” CBS Sports college basketball insider Jon Rothstein said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “If John Calipari is going to return to the NBA, it is going to be in a situation where he has autonomy in the front office and he is obviously the head coach. That is something that he craves.”
He also craves winning, which is what he’s doing at Kentucky. Calipari, 56, has led the Wildcats to the Final Four in four of the last five years. He’s played in two national championship games, winning one against Kansas and losing one against Connecticut. This year, of course, he could make history by leading Kentucky to an undefeated record and a national championship – something that hasn’t been done since Bob Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers went 32-0 in 1976.
If Calipari accomplishes that, well, why not just try to do it again?
Oh, and did we mention the money?
“He is only going to go to the NBA if he has a chance to win a championship,” Rothstein said. “Because here’s something that you have to take into consideration: John Calipari gets paid better than NBA coaches right now, and there’s a good chance that regardless of what happens this weekend in Indianapolis, John Calipari will get another contract extension – and he’ll probably be paid in excess of $8 million a year. You don’t leave that type of a situation to go to the NBA unless you have a chance to compete for a championship.”
One coach who is definitely not going to the NBA is Rick Barnes, who was let go Sunday after 17 seasons at Texas. Barnes led the Longhorns to 16 NCAA Tournaments, three Big 12 regular-season titles and one Final Four (2003) – the program’s first in more than 50 years. He won 402 games at Texas, the most in school history, and became just the 13th active coach to break the 600-win barrier.
Barnes, 60, had four years left on his contact and is expected to receive $1.75 million in severance. He is reportedly interested in becoming the next head coach at Tennessee.
“I’ve gotten word in the last half an hour that that is a very plausible scenario,” Rothstein said. “I’m endeavoring to find out more likely details, but from what I’ve been told through my sources in the situation, Rick Barnes is likely to land this week, and he is likely to land quickly. If there’s one place right now that I would point my compass at to Rick Barnes landing, it would be the University of Tennessee.”
Shaka Smart, meanwhile, is rumored to be Barnes’ most likely replacement at Texas.