As excited as the BBN is for the official start of another college basketball season, there’s at least one person who doesn’t love the timing of this year’s No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup. That person is John Calipari.
“I’m anxious to see really where we are right now, [but] I wish we didn’t play this game the first game of the year,” Calipari said. “But I’ve said that before. Why don’t we have a couple of games under our belt before we do this? But, you know, everybody agreed to do it.”
Later in Sunday’s press conference, he took it a step further. Why isn’t the annual Champions Classic played over the summer as a way to promote the sport as a whole?
“That is the best way – in a dead month – to promote college basketball. And you do it late July, early August when you have a chance to really have people see your teams… It’s, again, something I’ve been talking about for seven years, eight years. The NBA Summer League; the [Big 3] stuff, the Tournament. I mean, it’s all in a segment that should be college basketball for those couple weeks.”
Currently, if a team wants to play in July or August, they have to go overseas like Kentucky did with the Bahamas. Even then, the NCAA only allows a college team to take a foreign trip once every four years. When teams are allowed to go, Calipari says players spend their “free” time sleeping on the bus due to the exhaustion of travel, practice and games. There is no time for site seeing or museum tours.
“We’re all taking foreign tours because it’s educational,” Calipari joked. “Did I say that? I lied. I admit I lied. It’s not educational – it costs $250,000 to go to Spain, Italy, Croatia, wherever you want to go. Let’s just do this stuff here. Why? Everybody gets to play in August… How about this: take one day a week off up until that point and you don’t add any time. It’s the same amount of time and you’re playing games [on] television.”
The television people would like that too.
“You think the SEC Network would like content in August? How about that? You think all these other networks – the ACC, the Big Ten, the Pac-12, ESPN – they all would like content? It wouldn’t just be us playing – you’re televising the whole league,” Calipari said. “Now you’ve got another 50 [or] 60 games.”
Watching 50 or 60 more college basketball games a year? I’m sold.