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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Ponder This Hypothetical For a Minute


Summertime means hypothetical time when you are covering college athletics. And this little thought was bouncing around my head this weekend and I wanted to get a sense what everybody thought.  So I am going to play out a hypothetical that is not that ridiculous to consider and I want your thoughts on the question at the end:

2009-2010: Kentucky decides to stop trying the bury threes, instead pounds it into the post against West Virginia and dispatches the Mountaineers.  They overmatch Duke and Butler in the Final Four and win Cal’s first national title.

2010-11: Nothing changes (sure, UK could have easily won that title but that was a very fortunate run)

2011-12: Nothing changes

2012-13: Nothing changes (too many things went wrong to come up with a realistic hypothetical and that team was never winning the national title, Nerlens healthy or not)

2013-14: Nothing changes (young Cats surprising run and probably not a title team)

2014-15: An undefeated season is their destiny and UK gets past Wisconsin and Duke in the greatest Final Four in history

2015-16: Nothing changes (again, that team wasn’t realistically a title contender)

2016-17: Cats beat UNC in overtime, and easily dispatch Oregon and Gonzaga to win Calipari’s 4th title in 8 years


So, in an 8 year stretch Kentucky has won 4 titles, made another 2 Final Fours and then Calipari decides to hang it up.  All we changed were 1 bad game against West Virignia in 2010 and UCONN in 2014, a bad last 3 minutes against Wisconsin in 2015 and Luke Maye’s shot this year.  And none of those changes is a stretch.  Even when they played bad, they still had chances to win in all those games.

So, back to the hypothetical.  UK has won 4 titles in 8 years.  Calipari has retired.  Now the question:


If that scenario above actually happened, here is what the comparison between the 2 would look like:

CALIPARI (8 years): 4 titles, 6 Final Fours, 257 wins
RUPP (41 years): 4 titles, 6 Final Fours, 876 wins

I bring up this hypothetical because I have started to wonder, even with how it has actually played out with 1 title and 4 Final Fours, could Calipari actually be Kentucky’s greatest coach?  He will NEVER get to Rupp’s records simply because he won’t be here 41 years but Rupp was winning a title every 10.2 years and Calipari is winning a title once every 8 years.  Rupp went the Final Four 14% of the time.  Cal has gone to the Final Four 50% of the time.  Rupp did not go to the Final Four in his last 15 years at Kentucky and just once in his last 21 years.  Can you ever imagine a scenario where that would happen under Calipari.  Of course not.

And to top it all off, Calipari is doing this in a MUCH harder era to compete in college basketball.  Rupp didn’t coach in an integrated game for half his career, had little serious competition in the SEC, dealt with 8 and 16 team NCAA Tournaments and frankly didn’t have the various social media and public pressures that Calipari has.  And yet, if in some crazy world Calipari stayed here 41 years and kept the same pace he is on now, he would finish with:

5 titles
20 Final Fours
1,317 wins

So, again I ask: Is John Calipari the greatest coach in UK history?

Article written by Bryan the Intern

15 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Ponder This Hypothetical For a Minute

  1. WatchutalkinboutWillis
    8:07 am May 1, 2017 Permalink

    If we are doing hypotheticals we might as well say that Rick never left for the NBA, and he wins 4-5 titles more and he is the best coach in UK history.

  2. nybrasky
    8:09 am May 1, 2017 Permalink

    You can’t say “all you change” is 3 games when you’re also making the assumption that following each of those 3 games they win 2 additional games. Glad to see BTI sucking to his full potential this morning.

  3. Sentient Third Eye
    8:13 am May 1, 2017 Permalink

    In the immortal words of Adolph Rupp, ” If ifs and buts were cakes and nuts, we’d all be happy come Christmas.”

  4. t_f_licker
    8:13 am May 1, 2017 Permalink

    “Rupp did not go to the Final Four in his last 15 years at Kentucky and just once in his last 21 years.”

    Rupp made it to the championship game in 1966. Kentucky has never went 15 years without making a final four. The longest stretch was from 1998-2010.

  5. leshearer
    8:31 am May 1, 2017 Permalink

    Calipari is not accomplished to the point of being considered on the same level as Rupp. Not, even hypothetically. Cal is great in so many ways, but not as a coach of the game, at least at the level Rupp accomplished. He certainly can be, but let’s wait a few more years to see how that pans out.

  6. Jiminy Crickets
    8:43 am May 1, 2017 Permalink

    so what your saying is Calipari has had numerous teams that should have won a championship, but did not.

  7. GeraldFitch
    8:45 am May 1, 2017 Permalink

    Cool post bro…..

  8. Jiminy Crickets
    8:55 am May 1, 2017 Permalink

    “Calipari is winning a title once every 8 years”? we could say “Calipari is winning a title once every career coaching”.

    We could also say his 1996 Umass team should have beaten UK and would have easily beaten Syracuse. We could also say if Calipari fouled while up 3 and a few seconds left in the game, his Memphis team would have won.

    Wow, He could be a NC coach at 3 schools and have 6 titles. If UK had beaten UConn in 2011, and if 2014 could have beaten Uconn (a team UL drilled earlier that month) he could have 8 titles!!

    He may be the theoretical best coach of all time, or he may have caught lightening in a bottle with Anthony Davis and 3 NBA guys coming back for a second year along with seasoned vet Miller, and he may never win another one.

    • Eazy
      11:58 am May 1, 2017 Permalink

      He’s been to more final fours in the last 8 years than any coach. It’s not easy to win the title. I wouldn’t trade Cal for anyone. And I love how people bring up UL beating Uconn. That means nothing. We knocked that same UL team out of the tournament before losing to Uconn in the final. If wcs didn’t get hurt we easily win it all. Same with Alex in 15. People forget that. Also, Enes.

  9. Rod Crandler
    8:56 am May 1, 2017 Permalink

    Let’s say you run a free blog/site and it’s the off-season. Not much going on. So you try real hard to come up with goofy, fun stuff just to talk and write a post. Then say all the readers of the free site do nothing but pick apart your post and complain. Imagine that…

    • catsarerunnin
      12:29 pm May 1, 2017 Permalink

      Imagine one contributor of said free blog/site trying hard to come with goofy,fun stuff when it isn’t the offseason…..

  10. runningunnin.454
    9:24 am May 1, 2017 Permalink

    Rupp went to two FF’s in his last 14 years, 1958 and 1966.
    Actually it’s an exercise in futility to try to compare sports legends from different eras.
    Who was the greatest boxer…Dempsey, Louis, Marciano, or Ali?
    Who was the greatest slugger of all time…Ruth, Aaron, or Bonds?
    We’ll never know.

    • catsarerunnin
      12:31 pm May 1, 2017 Permalink

      Well obviously BTI knows. I mean he’s a wealth of useless information.

  11. AmazzzingLarry
    12:11 pm May 1, 2017 Permalink

    Let me get this straight, BTI is using events that never happened to justify that Cal is as accomplished as Rupp. You don’t get credit for games you didn’t win. If that were true, the Buffalo Bills would be ranked up there with the 49ers and Steelers as a football dynasty. Cal is fantastic, but falling short with teams that could have won it all should count against you, not go in your favor.

  12. Bluebloodtoo
    1:00 pm May 1, 2017 Permalink

    I like the idea of this, but the closing question of “Is Cal the greatest UK coach ever” based on “what could have been if he won 3 more (actually 7 more) games” just doesn’t work. Great idea, but you can’t ignore the data or postulate that the data might have been different and still support your theoretical question.