As John Calipari enters his 11th season in Lexington, and Brad Calipari has departed the program, it’s fair to wonder just how much longer he’ll coach.
The guys talked about this on the radio show a few weeks ago, and it really made me think. Honestly, I have no idea. I’m not sure any amount of time will surprise me, but it all could depend.
There’s no doubt that being the head coach at Kentucky takes a few years off your lifespan. And I think it’s safe to say Cal was a bit surprised he’s even made it this long.
“I remember asking Coach Hall, ‘How long a run is this?’ And he said, ‘About 10 years,’” Calipari told 247Sports. “The life span of a president, an athletic director, this level of coaching it’s usually about 10 years. After that, stuff gets harder and harder.”
And he recognizes the toll that the job has taken on him, not only mentally but physically as well.
“The thing that happens is that you still see yourself a certain way until you look in the mirror. Then you say, ‘What the hell happened there?’” Calipari said. “Everywhere I go I joke, ‘I want you to go look at the picture of me at the press conference when I first took the job and then look at me now and you’ll feel bad for what you’ve done to me. All you people.’ That is not that long ago. But this is one of those all-encompassing jobs.”
Joe B. Hall made it 13 seasons. Tubby lasted exactly 10. Not to mention, Hall was 57 and Smith 55 when they left. Cal just turned 60 in February.
It’s a difficult job that requires a year-round commitment. There’s the season, recruiting, and offseason workouts. The grind never stops. But while 10 years at Kentucky and 60 years of age might be the two most immediately glaring numbers, that’s not the number we should be paying attention to. It’s 20.
“I didn’t think I would be coaching in my 60s, mainly because of the pace I was going,” Calipari said. “But then again, it took me 20 years to get a job like this so I’m not as anxious to leave and will probably stay much longer than I ever thought I would stay in coaching.”
But it’s not just about the basketball. We all know how much Cal loves helping people. He takes his players to help less-fortunate people everywhere. And he also helps his players achieve their dreams, in turn possibly changing a man’s and a family’s life.
To put it simply, Cal’s tenure at Kentucky has turned into a billion-dollar industry.
“If I ever get to a point where I’m not feeling that I’m having that kind of impact, that the program is not having that kind of impact, then that’s when you start thinking,” Calipari said.
But when will that point be? 5 years? 10 years, to make it an even 20? That’s the biggest question. But it almost certainly won’t be another 20.
“If I could. I may not physically be able to,” Calipari said. “We’ve got guys trying to coach until they’re 80. I don’t know how I’ll feel trying to coach in my 80s.”
Calipari’s legacy is etched in stone. He brought Kentucky back to life. He’s been inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. He’s won a national championship. And he’s changed countless people’s lives for the better.
Maybe, he’ll step down after the next title. Maybe, it’s five years, or 10. Personally, I’d guess it’s between those two figures. But hopefully, it’s not soon.
What do you all think? How much longer will John Calipari coach at Kentucky?
Follow me on Twitter: @nickwheatley23