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Would Coach Cal ever talk to another college program?


The point is often made that John Calipari and Nick Saban have much in common.  Both coaches recruit at the highest level, succeed at the highest level, and their importance to their respective states transcends that of simply being a coach.  Plain and simple, Alabama and Kentucky fans, probably to a fault, hang on their every word and (even rumored) move.  That fact explains why some Bammer fans are feeling a little less than comfortable after news broke this week that Nick Saban’s agent spoke with regents from University of Texas about potentially replacing Mack Brown.

First of all, I don’t believe that Nick Saban will leave Alabama nor do I believe that this news is of any serious consequence to fans of either program.  However, if there is a program in college football that could make Saban an offer he can’t refuse, it would be Texas.  This got me thinking about John Calipari.  Is there a college basketball program out there that could tempt Cal to leave the Big Blue Nation? I think not, but let’s take a look at a few factors that would influence such a decision.

  1.  The Money. Tradition be damned, the dollar bills would be the most persuasive argument Texas could make in their flirtation with Alabama’s head man. Nick Saban, who makes $5.6 million a year, is the highest paid coach in college football.  Rumors of what Texas may be willing to pay Saban have ranged as high at $10 million a year–a salary that couldn’t be matched no matter how many arms and legs Bama’ fans would be willing to donate.

    Calipari, the highest paid coach in college basketball, makes nearly $5 million a year.  In college basketball, Cal’s salary is (mostly) the exception, not the rule.  He is making football money that most other schools would have an extremely difficult time paying a basketball coach.  But does a school exist that could/would produce the awe-inspiring money offer that Texas would be capable of extending to Saban? Probably not.  Football is the driving economic force at nearly every school. Traditional “basketball” schools with the allure of a football program like Texas–Duke, UNC, Indiana, UCLA, Kansas, Louisville–would not have the outrageous resources available to make such an astronomical offer that would be required to even tempt John Calipari. Texas has billionaire boosters that simply don’t exist in college basketball.

  2. The Region. Texas, like Alabama, is a football crazed state.  The fans from the top of the sport (Cowboys, Longhorns, Aggies, etc.) to the bottom of the sport (high school football is scary in Texas) have a rabid obsession with football, an interest that may exceed the love that the state of Kentucky has for basketball.  This obsession, along with a variety of other factors, has led to what is  probably the most talent-laden football state in the country.  There are enough high-caliber athletes in the Lonestar State to staff multiple, elite football programs without a coach ever needing to exit it’s borders.  In football, having talent in your backyard is essential to success at the highest level possible, an oft overlooked factor in Kentucky’s football woes.  It is an uncommon event for an elite talent to go very far from home when choosing a college in football. Saban wouldn’t have to try very hard to find talent in Texas and this would be an attractive factor for him, although the talent in Alabama is no slouch.

    This is not usually the case in college basketball.  The talent in the state is usually of very little importance, much to the chagrin of Kentucky fans that want to “put Richie in”. In fact, I would wager that when considering a high-exposure college basketball job, a perspective coach puts very little weight on the in-state basketball talent–a factor that I expect weighs heavily on the mind a similarly situated college football coach.  This is especially true for John Calipari, as has been demonstrated by his cross-country travels this past week.  Cal knows that he can pull basketball players from California to New York with very little trouble and because of this, no basketball program would be able to entice him with a pitch on the in-state talent.  The late, great, RJ Corman’s jet makes the world Coach Cal’s oyster.  

  3. The Exposure. Alabama has no problem with exposure, let’s make that clear from the get go.  Texas, however, is a national powerhouse that has unlimited potential when it comes to branding and exposure.  From the Longhorn Network, which is simply insane when you think about it, all the way down to the universal “hook-em horns” hand gesture, perhaps no program of any type in the country can generate the coverage that Texas can when doing well.  Even Alabama.

    Once again, I think that it would be nearly impossible to find a program that could surpass the exposure provided to John Calipari at Kentucky.  The Kentucky brand exposure that Calipari has maximized since his arrival has surpassed, in my opinion, even Duke’s.  Every young and talented basketball player in country wants to have the chance to play at Kentucky.  While Coach Cal has definitely been the most important part of this, it would not be possible for him to do it at a place that doesn’t provide a platform at least equal to Kentucky’s.  In my biased opinion, I don’t think that platform exists. 

In football, there are some places that could tempt a coach like Nick Saban away from the power program they are already at when they are doing extremely well.  In basketball, if a coach is succeeding at Kentucky in the way that Coach Cal is, I don’t think that any college team could pull him away.

Article written by Matt Wheatley

22 Comments for Would Coach Cal ever talk to another college program?

  1. 9-asty
    9:36 pm September 21, 2013 Permalink

    You guys are pretty bored this weekend and have nothing good to write about, huh?

  2. WildcatFaithful
    9:48 pm September 21, 2013 Permalink

    Short of politics, or the NBA (Cal’s been there – done that), I can’t see any college program (UNC, KU, dUKe ect…) tempting him to leave Lexington. Have not felt that way about a UK BB coach since Joe B.

  3. Bluegrass Kings
    9:56 pm September 21, 2013 Permalink

    What if Texas decided to spend some of that football money on basketball?

  4. Bill
    10:19 pm September 21, 2013 Permalink

    I say we go ahead and raise his salary just to play it safe.

  5. crazycatfan
    10:28 pm September 21, 2013 Permalink

    #4 – Let’s go with that!!!

  6. Sgt Jimmy
    10:42 pm September 21, 2013 Permalink

    I don’t believe any college will be able to lure Cal away with the exception of UCLA. If they make up their mind to get him, they will put whatever money it takes. UCLA is the only program that can compare to Kentucky. A championship there would secure Cal’s legacy and place in the Hall of Fame. The NBA is another story.

  7. Chief slapaho
    10:54 pm September 21, 2013 Permalink

    With all due respect Sgt Jimmy UCLA hasn’t been an elite job for a long time. They are the IU of the west coast.

  8. Catsfan
    10:56 pm September 21, 2013 Permalink

    Money at this point in either of their careers is not what drives these gentlemen. They want to win, win NC’s and leave a legacy. Saban and Calipari are at the top of the food chain where they are and both have all the support and facilities they need to not only recruit nationally, but to continually have the top class’s.
    I just don’t see another college that either of these coach’s would leave for and that includes Texas.

  9. louie
    10:56 pm September 21, 2013 Permalink

    Yawn. Sometimes it might be better to write nothing at all. Cal will not leave Kentucky for another college coaching job. And he will not fly to Jupiter and build a home. You can take those two to the bank. Is KSR now a fictional site? Just sayin,…..

  10. PIKE PLEGE OF 2010
    11:23 pm September 21, 2013 Permalink

    Wheatley you suck and this is exactly why everybody wanted you out a week after bid day.

  11. UKBLUE
    11:45 pm September 21, 2013 Permalink

    The other thing that could afford Cal is an NBA team, and Cal wouldnt do that unless he had control of picking the players. One thing Cal & Pitino havo in common: they are both teachers, are better in college, and neither system works in the NBA.

    What is going on, the writing on KSR is getting really bad. Sometimes less is more; really if there isnt anything to post then why post something bad just to put up a post?

  12. SECtvdeal
    12:16 am September 22, 2013 Permalink

    Why do UK fans always try to compare basketball to football. No one outside Kentucky cares about basketball. More people pick soccer as their favorite sport over college basketball. No one cares. Move on to football

  13. Michael
    12:24 am September 22, 2013 Permalink

    I for one don’t mind reading articles like this on KSR. It’s a bye week for football. Basketball is more than a month away. What do you all expect??? I wish people would quit crying. Some of you all (UKBLUE, louie) remind me of those dbags who complain at restaurants because the waiter didn’t put enough ice in their iced tea. WAAAA WAAAA!!!

  14. kadizkat
    7:37 am September 22, 2013 Permalink

    I’m with you Michael!

  15. RealCatsFan
    7:58 am September 22, 2013 Permalink

    Plus one on what Michael said. UKBlue wrote that “sometimes less is more” – that should also apply to comments bitching about the writing on the site. It’s a bye week people; there just isn’t that much to write about that hasn’t already been written. If the KSR writers didn’t post these articles, the same people would be complaining that there isn’t enough new content on the site.

    That being said, the people writing the articles should spend an extra five minutes and quickly proofread what was written before hitting that “submit” button. I see a lot of careless grammatical mistakes in otherwise decently written articles. Just a suggestion, folks.

  16. Byron
    8:12 am September 22, 2013 Permalink

    Stop looking at things through your blue glasses. Fact is every coach could leave even Cal or Saban. I don’t think they would leave for another college program. The pros could offer something no college could match, ownership. Any elite coach was offered 25 percent of a team would have to take it. I could see that happening before I see Saban or Cal making a lateral move.

  17. Tide
    8:47 am September 22, 2013 Permalink

    I don’t know why you think Alabama couldn’t afford to give him 10 million a year when the athletic department is making 120-130 million a year. In 2010 Alabama made 130 million and spent 98 million, theres plenty of money in Tuscaloosa to make Saban a ten million dollar offer. Also a big chunk high profile coach’s salary comes from media contracts, just look at coach cal’s deal.

  18. O'bama Kerr
    8:52 am September 22, 2013 Permalink

    In re Saban potentially ever leaving Bama, it is important to note: Texas is NOT in the SEC. That would weigh heavily on his ego and decision. It is more probable he would court the job in order to get a pay raise in Tuscaloosa.

    In re CAL ever leaving KENTUCKY: College hoops is a business and he’s a business man. If he chooses to bolt, for whatever reason, and while the proposition is a difficult one, he can be replaced – and ball will go on, God willing, ad infinitum in Lexington.

  19. Alumni Gym
    11:15 am September 22, 2013 Permalink

    Texas has exactly ONE national title since 1970. That’s right, ONE. Alabama trumps them in EVERY category.

    (1) Tradition- Not even close, and Alabama’s is the best all time to boot.

    (2) Exposure- No one outside of Notre Dame gets more exposure than Alabama, and these days, even that’s debatable. Plus, Texas plays in the Big-12, and Alabama plays in the SEC. Game over, Rover.

    (3) Fan support- Are you kidding? Alabama fans are as die-hard, loyal, and rabid as any fan base on planet Earth.

    (4) Facilities- Alabama has the best in the country. I’ve seen them this summer. They are unreal.

    (5) Money- This is a wildcard, true, but what in the world makes you think that Alabama boosters couldn’t come up with another 4 or 5 more million a year? That’s absurd. They could in a heartbeat, and likely would. Hell, if Saban wins it again this year, look for a BIG raise anyway.

    (6) Being a legend to top all legends- You don’t quit a job of this magnitude when you are on a roll like this. Saban has a chance to be considered the greatest coach in college football history, with the greatest dynasty. You don’t walk away from that to rebuild a program that has an inflated view of itself.

    (7) Recruiting base- Alabama ALREADY recruits all over the south and midwest, including in Texas. Hell, they land #1 recruiting classes all the time, and the times they don’t, they are always top-5. Don’t think that ol’ Nick is worrying about that, champ.

    And by the way, Coach Cal makes a base of 5.2 million, not slightly less than 5 million.

  20. Donaldtruman
    11:24 am September 22, 2013 Permalink

    Hey people bitching about the article -how about you just scroll past it instead of taking the time to comment on it. I for one, enjoy reading hypotheticals while I take my Sunday hungover dump.

  21. catfan4life
    12:23 pm September 22, 2013 Permalink

    Yes better proof reading would be a good idea for KSR writers and I have emailed Matt about that very thing. A great many people have no clue of the difference between their, there and they’re pronouns. KSR writers are certainly guilty of those mistakes and it takes away from their articles. Having said that, it is really difficult to write an article once per week let alone every day or every other day.

    Perhaps you naysayers should write a GREAT article and send it to Matt and see if he will post it. To be fair to those horrible KSR writers you should write an article on an aspect of football or basketball that has yet to be written about. Go ahead and just try it! I double-dog dare you!

    I thought the article has merit as a topic. Questions like that need to be asked especially if it promotes thoughtfulness! I guarantee you AD’s have already asked that question of their programs so why shouldn’t we as fans do the same?

  22. what
    1:04 pm September 22, 2013 Permalink

    Texas as a state may be diehard when it comes to football in general, but U Texas “fans” are anything but when it comes supporting a less than BCS caliber team. They are pathetic. Or should I say…apathetic.