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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Does the UK job burnout a coaches career?

John Calipari has been very vocal that his time at Kentucky is not going to be a long term thing, which I took to mean 15- or 20 years.  I have always said if we can get 10 years out of Cal that will be a HUGE success for the fanbase and the program.  Because as Cal has also said, the basic day to day activity of the job is unlike any college basketball job in the country and is truly a grind.  Guys like Caliapri, and Rick Pitino when he was here, seemed to love that aspect of the job, while Tubby and Gillisipie it seemed to be a negative. 

But what I have always wondered is just what kind of effect the Kentucky job has on the basic energy and passion a guy has for coaching.  With the incredible grind the UK job has become, we saw the passion absolutely leave Tubby and just exploded the problems on Gillispie.  Now Cal talks about it often.  While Kentucky will always be considered an elite job at the college level, does it actually have a negative impact on a coaches career?  Take a look at the past 4 UK coaches and how they did at Kentucky and post-Kentucky: 

UK Stats: 88-39 overall (69.3% win), 48-24 conference (66.7% win)
Post-UK: 374-164 overall (69.5% win), 158-99 conference (61.5% win)

-Sutton battled alcohol issues at Oklahoma State and then had an embarrassing stint at San Francisco before finally calling it quits.  He did make it to 2 Final Fours at OSU, but that was spread over a 10 year period, in which OSU missed the tournament twice and did not get out of the first weekend another 5 times.  Just looking at Sutton’s face shows you a man with some fatigue in his life.  And despite all of that, he has probably had the best post-UK career of any of these coaches.

UK Stats: 219-50 overall (81.4% win), 104-28 conference (78.8% win)
Post-UK: 245-96 overall (71.8% win), 71-33 conference (68.2% win)

-Pitino bolted for Boston for big cash, and was a complete disaster there.  He returned to Louisville in hopes of guiding them to the success he had at Kentucky.  That surely hasn’t happened, although he has made a Final Four….in 10 years.  He has also sent that team to the NIT twice, and put the school through a very bad publicity era with his Karen Sypher ordeal.  Another guy who, when looking at him in the face, appears to have aged a little quicker than his actual age should suggest. 

UK Stats: 263-83 overall (76.0% win), 120-40 conference (75.0% win)
Post-UK: 80-53 overall (60.2% win), 32-40 conference (44.4% win)

-Tubby was basically pushed out at Kentucky, and was brought in to Minnesota to revive that program.  While recruiting has increased there, the wins have not come very quickly, and 4 years into that tenure, Tubby is running in place.  He has also had public spats with the administration and players about facilities and behavior.  It just seems to me Tubby has lost that elite mojo that he had at Kentucky for many years, and now is just coasting towards retirement, even though he is just 60 years old.

UK Stats: 40-27 overall (59.7% win), 20-12 conference (62.5% win)
Post-UK: TBD

-Obviously, Gillispie doesn’t have any concrete stats from his time at Texas Tech, but if recent reports about confrontations with staff in Lubbock are any indication, then things are not looking good.  Wheras the other guys listed above came to Kentucky with clean records and energy, Gillispie had his problems before Lexington, so its not real clear how much his 2-year stint actually burned him out. 

Now, some could argue the reason those records are worse is that Louisville and Minnesota are worse programs than Kentucky, and it has nothing to do with the coaches.  But, Pitino built Kentucky from the pits to where they are now, so why hasn’t he been able to do that at Louisville.  Minnesota went to the Final Four in 1997, so that program can do it, but Tubby seems nowhere to getting them there.  Gillispie is off to a bad foot at Texas Tech.  Sutton had some success at Oklahoma State, but no consistent success.  Did the Kentucky job affect how these guys did after they left?

Article written by Bryan the Intern

29 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Does the UK job burnout a coaches career?

  1. bpowell
    9:09 am August 26, 2011 Permalink

    The job is definitely a grind. However, the big factor in those records is that it is easier to win at Kentucky. If John Calipari, the best in the business, went to Minnesota, his record would slip.

  2. ThankfulCat
    9:11 am August 26, 2011 Permalink

    You have to understand it. You have to embrace it. You also have to be the kind of coach that attracts top players and can develop them.

    that’s why Cal fits

    that’s why tubby didn’t

  3. BigBlueStreeb
    9:25 am August 26, 2011 Permalink

    Pitino could have stuck it out, he just didn’t. I hate Pitino with all of my fiber but the guy was just as good as Cal at the job, maybe even better. I think the effect happens to be that the places that these guys are at are NOT Kentucky. I agree with #1. I don’t think the job burned them out, I just think that they went to second or third tier programs where as UK is at the top. Winning at Louisville, OSU, Minnesota or Texas Tech is a chore and that has probably aged them more than Kentucky ever did.

    The only exception to that is Sutton because he was getting hammered and cheating while at UK.

  4. Big Worm
    9:37 am August 26, 2011 Permalink

    Each of these guys has their own different reason for ending up where they are now.

    Burnout can’t happen unless you were on fire in the first place.

    Technically, only Pitino of this group was ever on fire.

    Therefore, if your premise was to be proven based on numbers then it has been dissolved (without a puff of smoke).

    It appears as if Pitino has burned out, but reality is in college basketball “the Kentucky Effect” has as much of an effect on a good coach as a good coach can have on a great program. (EX: Had Pitino stayed at Providence or gone directly to UL and never coached UK, he most likely wouldn’t have had the success he had chosing to come to KY).

  5. turkeyblue
    9:38 am August 26, 2011 Permalink

    Wow – Those two pictures of Pitino – one a UK and the other at UL – I guess that’s what the Clap does to you. It’s like the before and after of Obama – he will look like Fred Sanford when he’s through.

  6. Pete
    9:38 am August 26, 2011 Permalink

    Wasn’t the Minnesota Final four vacated for cheating?

  7. David
    9:40 am August 26, 2011 Permalink

    The fact that Tubby ever had “elite mojo” was due to the fact that he was the coach at Kentucky. His record before AND after UK is not elite.

  8. bluesince66
    9:45 am August 26, 2011 Permalink

    While Tubby did an outstanding job his first year at UK he can thank UK for his NC. Never made a final four before or after UK. Pitino on the other hand saved the program, but again probably owes thanks to UK, because he’s not been near as succesful at UL.

  9. JackB
    9:59 am August 26, 2011 Permalink

    When was Tubby pushed out at UK? He was not going to be fired. He could have returned. But he spoke with Minnesota contacts and sent the wink-wink-nudge-nudge that he would take the job in February while he was still coaching UK.

    Unless BTI knows something I do not, Tubby was not pushed out. Some fans were unhappy and he was underperforming his last few years, but he still had a job here. He decided to get away from the pressure and went to a job with almost no expectations for a Big 10 school. The only Big 10 jobs with less expectations would have to be Penn State and Northewestern.

  10. GummyBear
    10:00 am August 26, 2011 Permalink

    7.. You are mistaken. Tulsa’s first ever S16 appearence under Tubby and did it back to back. Then UGA’s first ever (and only) back to back S16 appearences were under Tubby.

  11. JackB
    10:06 am August 26, 2011 Permalink

    I agree with GummyBear. Tubby did will at school (Tulsa and UGA) that did not do well often. He did great in 1998 regardless of whose players he coached. On the downside, he failed to make the Final Four despite having perhaps the best team in the country three times thereafter – though he made the Elite Eight two of those times. He hasn’t done much at Minn though.

  12. nashvillecatsfan
    10:10 am August 26, 2011 Permalink

    Those pictures were probably taken 12-15 years apart. Considering that, I don’t think he aged too badly. I know I look a lot older than I did that many years ago, as do just about everyone else I know. The guy is almost 60. How young do you expect someone to look at that age.

  13. True Blue
    10:34 am August 26, 2011 Permalink

    Maybe Donnovan is smarter than any of us has given him credit for in that he turned this job down early in his carreer knowing from being a part of the program that the burnout would eventually set in and effectively kill his career prematurely.

  14. John
    10:47 am August 26, 2011 Permalink

    Honestly, the character and moral fabric of the coach is as much at play rather than whether or not UK burns the coaches out. Eddie was a drunk, and his drunkenness was amplified. Same for Gillispie. Tubby was mediocre at Georgia, and I still wonder why the University didn’t shoot for a higher caliber coach when Tubby was hired. No offense to Tubby, he’s a great man. I just don’t see evidence that he ever had the desire to put the time in it takes to maintain (he didn’t have to build what was already there) an elite program. Pitino’s a bit harder to figure out, but I think 9/11 played as big a part in his decrease in production than anything. Calipari on the other hand has the twin pillars of ability and desire as we are all witnessing the positive fruits from his labor. It may be just that he has good PR people, but I’ve not heard the rumors about Cal’s lifestyle that we all heard about Pitino and Gillispie, and to a lesser extent Tubby.

  15. CSR
    10:50 am August 26, 2011 Permalink

    I’ve never witnessed such egotistical, self-absorbed, and self-entitled people in my life.

  16. ?
    10:55 am August 26, 2011 Permalink


  17. David
    11:06 am August 26, 2011 Permalink

    10 – I didn’t say that Tubby did a bad job at Tulsa or Georgia, he did a fine job. I wouldn’t classify a couple of Sweet 16 appearances as elite, however. Here are the numbers:

    Tubby’s record before/after UK: 204-114 for a .642 winning %.
    Tubby’s record at UK: 263-83 for a .760 winning %.

    .642 is not an elite winning %.

  18. Allen Iverson
    11:21 am August 26, 2011 Permalink


  19. KevinKat78
    12:03 pm August 26, 2011 Permalink

    This is really silly! Sutton was a high profile coach for many years. He coached a great number of games. He should be tired. He won a lot of ball games. Pitino had it made at UK. He handled the job very well. Boston probably broke him much worse. Tubby also had it made except for pressure to win at UK that should have been there. Billy Clyde doesn’t fit into this article at all. I think Cal can handle UK as well as anybody. Sure looks that way to me. I think he’s better than Pitino by far.

  20. Odd Man Out!
    12:12 pm August 26, 2011 Permalink

    I’d have to agree…a couple Sweet 16s aren’t elite by any stretch! Truth is, Tubby was, is and will always be a middle of the road coach. Even being at UK where the facilities, fan base and pretty much everything else needed to win is provided…other than the players…he could never get back to the FF.

    Pitino…he made a mistake leaving but thought it was the right move at the time. I’d be surprised if he wouldn’t have wished he’d never left UK for Boston.

    BCG…not sure what the hell anyone was thinking when he was hired. I didn’t know him, ever hear of him or even know what his coaching experience was…surely that man’s background check came back with a few “Highlighted Area”? WTF? He’s gone…that’s all that matters!

    Sutton…pressured to win and win fast. Nothing against Joe B but the program was in decline (yeah I know, FF the year prior, etc, etc, etc)…whatever, Joe B was done and he wasn’t going to do anything else with UK. Hire Sutton and he needed to win early, win big…he was dumb and cheated. He’s gone…again, all that matters!

    @15…it’s UK, are you serious? This is normal, everyday life for UK fans!

  21. What?
    12:27 pm August 26, 2011 Permalink

    Another Tubby debate?

  22. Calipari'sInYourEar
    1:38 pm August 26, 2011 Permalink

    If we’re going to talk about black coaches that are elite then let’s talk about Mike Tomlin with the Steelers.

    4 years as a coach, 2 Super Bowls, 1 ring.

    That’s a friggin coach. Tubby isn’t in his league folks.

  23. _
    1:58 pm August 26, 2011 Permalink


  24. schwing
    2:53 pm August 26, 2011 Permalink

    tubby was in no way “pushed out” of the program. it’s bad enough we have people disconnected from the program who try to make that claim, but from a “news/blog/opinion” site that claims to adore the program, the statement is completely unacceptable.

  25. True Story
    3:08 pm August 26, 2011 Permalink

    BTI…. ugg… the UK job helps talented coaches excel… without UK… they… didn’t. It’s the Kentucky effect. It’s called having the best facilities, the best fan support… the best everything. It makes you better… it even makes you better than you are.

  26. True Story
    3:11 pm August 26, 2011 Permalink

    BTI, love your work, but today I have to ask, does the “T” in your name stand for Tipton?

    6:49 pm August 26, 2011 Permalink

    Coaching UK basketball might be a grind, but it doesn’t mean a coach wished he didn’t coached at UK. It’s the best years of a coaches life!

  28. Realist
    7:52 pm August 26, 2011 Permalink

    When did Cal say this was a short-term deal?

  29. Dave
    5:48 am August 28, 2011 Permalink