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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Can You Ever Envision Cal’s Program Dipping


Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute: despite the fact that John Calipari seems more and more destined to retire at the University of Kentucky (thank you Cleveland), he probably doesn’t have more than 5 more years at this school.  It’s just too much of a grind for a coach anymore.  The fact we might get 10 years out of Calipari is a minor miracle.  But what is truly miraculous about the Calipari-era is 2 fold for me:

1. That the first 6 years have included 4 Final Fours and 1 National Title


2. I can’t envision the program ever not being elite under Calipari

Now, you might argue that this is Kentucky and the right guy would never let this program dip.  But the fact of the matter that EVERY UK coach not named Rick Pitino let the program dip before they left the job.  Take a little look:

Rupp: Rupp did not go to a Final Four in his final 6 years in Lexington, which included one season at 13-13.  He lost 13 games in his final 2 years, which is a lot more considering his teams were playing 7-10 less games a year than they do now.  While Rupp was forced out because of age, his program wasn’t dominating when he left.

Hall: Probably the weakest argument but Hall’s last team went 18-13 and without a surprise run to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament, that team would have been quite a massive disappointment.  It’s not that his team didn’t have talent though.  They went to the Final Four the year before and won 32 games the year after, but Hall lost 8 or more games in 3 out of his last 4 seasons.

Sutton: Of course Sutton’s demise was through probation but he obviously left the program on a low

Tubby: The strongest argument, Tubby definitely left the program on a low note after 2 incredibly frustrating seasons.

Gillispie: No explanation needed

Some of these guys left the program in worse shape than others.  Hall left the cupboard quite full when he left but fans didn’t exactly love him at the time.  Rupp’s entire career is what is focused on but the end was hit or miss.  And Sutton, Tubby, and Gillispie left the program on very shaky ground for many different reasons.

But here is my point: I can’t imagine John Calipari leaving this program in some kind of mediocre shape.  It doesn’t mean that he hasn’t had bad season.  Of course the 2013 season was a disaster and had he left after that year, I wouldn’t write this post.  But for whatever reason, I just can’t see UK struggling again under Calipari.  The recruiting and talent are just too good.  He dominates the conference.  He dominates his rivals.  He has many of the fans wrapped around his little finger.  And beyond unforeseen circumstances like probation, he’s going to leave the program on strong footing.

Maybe it is just my age and having dealt with Tubby and Gillispie, but you always got the sense with those guys that if everything didn’t fall just perfect, the program would fall apart.  With Calipari, it seems like bad things have happened (Poythress injury i.e.) and the program just keeps on trucking.  The amount of great talent that did not choose UK this offseason would have crippled a Tubby Smith team.  Instead, Calipari still has a Top 10 team.

Do you feel the same amount of confidence I do that no matter when Cal leaves, UK will be strong?  That there is no way Calipari leaves on a low note with the program?

Article written by Bryan the Intern

18 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Can You Ever Envision Cal’s Program Dipping

  1. UK Terry
    9:13 am June 9, 2015 Permalink

    Cal’s last team at UK will probably end on a high note. But with the history of his players leaving after 1 or 2 years, the next coach likely will inherit an empty cupboard that will not reload as quickly as Cal has been able to do.

    Kentucky will always be Kentucky, meaning that they will always attract top notch talent, but it will take a known quality head coach to step in and not miss a beat.

    • Tomas
      10:56 am June 9, 2015 Permalink

      I agree with you. When ever Cal leaves the new guy is going to have a short period to refill the roster. The best case scenario is Cal has a few guys like Marcus Lee, Tyler Ulis, and Alex Poythress to help the ease the transition, but that is going to be hard to guarantee. I have some legitimate concerns for the program when Cal leaves. But that is normal, Duke should have the same concerns for when K decides to hang it up, same for Michigan State, Louisville, and Carolina. That is part of being a big time program, just have to hope Mitch has a plan.

    • cracka
      11:39 am June 9, 2015 Permalink

      one thing that could really help with that is if there is a 2 year rule in place when he leaves

    • symphonist41169
      11:42 am June 9, 2015 Permalink

      Coach Krysjpldivnmmewsi will never leave because he’s a vampire.

    • Ha!
      11:56 am June 9, 2015 Permalink

      ^^ Still here. I thought you hated this site and its writers?

    • symphonist41169
      12:45 pm June 9, 2015 Permalink

      You shouldn’t concern yourself with what I like or dislike, douchebag.

  2. JAKentucky
    9:47 am June 9, 2015 Permalink

    What helps with Cal’s legacy and our memory of the past few years are the 11-loss, 8 seeded team that fought it’s way to the championship game and the 9-loss, 4 seeded team that surprised us with a final four berth. What if Brandon Knight’s team lost to Princeton in the first round (remember it took a Knight last second shot to win it)? And then what if Randle’s team lost to Wichita State as they probably should have? What made those two teams memorable were the fact that they had unexpected postseason success. Those years were incredibly frustrating throughout but we remember them well because they had great success towards the end of the year.

    If anything that’s what I appreciate the most about having Cal at the helm. He’s going to recruit well enough to put together special teams (wall, davis, last year) but those teams that struggle and fight and surprise us with big time finishes are what keeps us happy as a fan base and to an extent keeps Cal’s job even safer than it already is.

    So to answer the question, yes, I could see Kentucky slip in the Cal era because they already did for three of the six years he has been here, it just took a few good bounces and some great finishes to alter our memory of how frustrating those years COULD have been. We very well could be looking at 3 elite teams and 3 bad (to Kentucky standards) teams in the Cal era, but instead we have 4 final fours, 1 elite 8, and 1 year to forget.

    • cracka
      11:47 am June 9, 2015 Permalink

      i’m not sure how much of it is a surprise … every year Cal reminds us that we’re starting all over with a young team … everybody forgets after the tournament how rough we were in the beginning of the year … remember those close games Cal’s first team had? the 2012 championship team had some pretty rough games, too. except for last year, we usually count a lot on freshman who are getting their first experience with conference road games and tournament games … they have to learn on the fly.

  3. jr
    9:54 am June 9, 2015 Permalink

    I love Cal, and I bleed blue in the best way. We missed out last year, no way having that much talent and not winning it all, but you just never know how a coach wil leave a program. Cal is just like anyone else. You get tired, and when you finally say this is it, you are just not the same mentally.

    • J-Dub421
      1:38 pm June 9, 2015 Permalink

      The best teams don’t always win the title. In fact they rarely do. I think the overall #1 seed in the tournament has only won the title about 3 times in the last 20 years. How did Ben Howland not win a title at UCLA when he had Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love??

  4. inside info2
    9:57 am June 9, 2015 Permalink

    What UK Terry said. Cal would not retire on a low note for the program (NIT first round loss). His ego is too big for that. However the players he recruited for the following season woud likely not end up signing with UK after he leaves. So unless Mitch lucked into a slam dunk hire — remember, Coach Cal was way down on the list and was hired after several no’s from other coaches–our program would take a dip. I don’t think it would stay there. If we didn’t get Sean Mller, we would likely get a good up and coming coach like his brother Archie. We likely wouldn’t get a Top 3 recruiting class every year but would still be ranked pre-season most years.

  5. ClutchCargo
    10:03 am June 9, 2015 Permalink

    I think Cal knows himself well enough to admit when he’s losing his edge and just walk away when the time comes. Not all of the previous coaches could do that.

  6. catfan4life
    10:40 am June 9, 2015 Permalink

    I doubt any great coach will take the job behind Cal unless he has a couple of abysmal seasons by UK standards. I just don’t see why people are so enamored with the Millers. Neither of them have won anything of note. AZ has been recruiting almost as well as UK, but he has little to show for it. His recruits leave the program not nearly as ready for the NBA as UK players by Cal. Maybe we will have to hire an up and coming coach, but please not a MIller.

    • inside info2
      11:00 am June 9, 2015 Permalink

      I agree with you about Sean. However I don’t think there are any other “big name” coaches we would have a shot with.

      However, Archie seems to overacheive with much less talent. So he might not be a bad get.

    • symphonist41169
      11:46 am June 9, 2015 Permalink

      By the time Cal hangs it up Brad Stevens will be tired of the NBA grind & ready to get back into the college coaching ranks. Mitch should start making subtle overtures toward him in 2-3 years in anticipation of Cal calling it quits in 4-5 years.

  7. Kyreds
    11:00 am June 9, 2015 Permalink

    This year may be Cal`s worse year ever. I think they will lose 12 games & wont contend for anything!

    • Ha!Ha!Hoosiers!
      11:58 am June 9, 2015 Permalink

      Meanwhile, in Indiana, they won’t do shit…..

  8. highandtight
    12:55 am June 10, 2015 Permalink

    Again with the tubby hate. He was/is a great coach. He was the best hire at the time and great for UK basketball. He was/is not a great recruiter, but he got the most out of the teams he had. That 98 game against duke is one of the greatest coaching jobs ever. Only an idiot thinks he could have done a better job. Stop the hate!