Blue Kentucky Seeks Memphis Greener Grass 03/30/2009Posted by sportretort in Sports.
Tags: adolph rupp, billy gillspie, coaching change, duke, john calipari, Kentucky, kentucky basketball, kentucky coach, louisville, memphis basketball, ncaa basketball, north carolina, ucla
Billy Gillispe has been fired as the coach of the Kentucky Wildcats after 2 seasons. His record there was 40-27. Tubby
Smith ran out of time after 9 seasons as Kentucky’s coach two years earlier. He could not reproduce his ’98 national championship. Smith’s record was 44-27 during his last 2 seasons at Kentucky. It now appears likely that current Memphis Coach John Calipari may be the next coach at Kentucky. Many people call Kentucky the best program in college basketball. With UCLA, Duke, and North Carolina, it is a can’t miss situation, they say. Indiana used to be in that group, but with their recent trials and tribulations, many have taken Indiana out of this group. My question is, why is Kentucky still considered the among the elite? Notre Dame has won 11 national championships in football, among most ever, but they are no longer considered the class of college football. Green Bay won the first 2 Superbowls, but no one would call them the class of the NFL today.
Kentucky annually has a winning record. It ranks second with 7 national championships, trailing only UCLA’s 11. It is those 7 championships that add the mystique. Adolph Rupp was one of the greatest coaches ever. He was the Kentucky coach for 41 years, and he won 4 championships (1948, 1949, 1951, 1958). Kentucky was the class of basketball. But that was over 50 years ago.
Since Rupp’s last championship in 1958, UCLA has won 11 championships, Indiana 5, North Carolina and Duke have
3 each and Kansas, Cincinnati, UConn, Florida, Louisville, Michigan State, and North Carolina State have two each (and North Carolina or Michigan State, both in this years final four, could add to their total next week). Kentucky’s 3 championships (1978 under Joe B. Hall, 1996 under Rick Pitino and 1998 under Tubby Smith) during that time does not appear that daunting. That 1998 championship also marks their last final four appearance. In addition, Kentucky has faced NCAA sanctions 3 times (1952, 1976 and 1988) in their history. Kentucky is a good basketball school, but with no championships or final four appearances in the last 10 years, they are hardly more than also rans when recruiting today’s high school players. 17 year olds don’t know who Rupp is. They don’t care that Kentucky used to be elite, just as they are unswayed by Notre Dame’s past in football. Smith and Gillispe were let go because they could not maintain the talent pool at Kentucky.
Calapari has had more success at Memphis than Kentucky has had during the same time frame. His 253-68 record in nine seasons at that school includes an appearance in the NCAA championship game last year. He may be the answer for this slipping program.