Three of ESPN’s writers took turns shedding light on head coaches Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Calhoun and John Calipari as three of the toughest legends to replace. Although Calipari, unlike the other two coaches mentioned, has only just begun his legacy at the University of Kentucky– his stamp on the program has already been made. The idea of finding a replacement to fill the big, needle-moving, triple-header exploring, NBA draft class producing, national championship winning shoes that he wears as the wildly popular head coach of the Wildcats is a scary one. Dana O’Neil breaks down just how difficult the challenge will be eventually for Mitch Barnhart, assuming Calipari doesn’t discover a way to produce a hologram of himself to coach at Kentucky for the rest of time.
“Mitch Barnhart– or whoever is the Kentucky athletic director when Calipari calls it quits– has the toughest job in college basketball.
As his short-lived predecessor proved, being a successful UK coach takes more than just the ability to run a good offense. It’s about salesmanship and glad-handing, about showmanship and arrogance, about schmoozing the 90-year-old in rural Paris with the same fervor you’d use for the big donor in Lexington.
To be successful there, you must embrace the insanity of it all–and Calipari has bear-hugged the craziness, the perfect Barnum to this basketball mad-circus.”
While it is much too early to start discussing the potential heir to the throne Calipari has already constructed in his short time in Lexington, the task will be difficult. When Kentucky calls, coaches listen. That much is certain. Finding a coach who wants to try his hand at the mecca of the college basketball world seems simple enough. Some coaches might shy away from the pressure, but plenty of others would embrace the opportunity. The real question might be whether or not a more perfect fit has ever existed (at least in the last 20 years), or will ever exist again, than the marriage between the Kentucky program and John Calipari. The man knows how to milk every advantage and resource that working at a place like the University of Kentucky has to offer. He has set the bar high for every coach that will follow.
No need to worry about any of that for now. The fact that Calipari will be a hard coach to replace is a compliment to the job he has done so far in his three years and the great place in which the program currently stands.
Dana O’Neil is looking ahead though. And she had this to say about the future of replacing Calipari:
“It’s not like there is an obvious heir apparent here, a former player or appropriately groomed assistant who could easily slide into Calipari’s vacated seat. A well-established head coach would have a hard time walking into that shadow and of those on the up-and-coming list, none has the personality or the presence to match Coach Cal’s.”
O’Neil suggests that Mitch Barnhart start funding the research to find a clone. To read the full article by O’Neil, as well as the link to the articles about Calhoun and Coach K, click here.
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Bill Keightley Report : Never to be forgotten.
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