Gibberman: Calipari is one of the best
The Kentucky Wildcats were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament by West Virginia 73-66, but they are not going anywhere.
With John Calipari's history, UK will be right back at the top next year in the mediocre SEC. The guy can sell anything (plus he doesn't care about breaking rules and leaving a school in shambles after he jets). Take a look at his freaking website, it is unbelievable.
Calipari gets it; he knows how to market himself to the players, fans, boosters and media - he keeps everyone happy.
There is not a more entertaining coach when he does his quick hits on Sportscenter or is interviewed at halftime of a game. He respects the job the media does; he answers questions honestly and openly.
For him to get busted at Kentucky something is going to have to be really public, because no one is going to be out to get him.
Calipari's record over the last five seasons has been historic. When reading the stats over remember they are skewed because he was in a weaker conference with the Memphis Tigers; during the four years at Memphis there was only one other NCAA Tournament berth from Conference USA:
2009-10 Kentucky 35-3
2008-09 Memphis 33-4
2007-08 Memphis 38-2
2006-07 Memphis 33-4
2005-06 Memphis 33-4
That adds up to 172-17 (1 Final Four, 1 Runner up). I wanted to put Calipari's dominance into perspective. Here is a list of coaches I came up with that I thought might have a comparable five year stretch:
Tom Izzo-Michigan State 1997-98 to 2001-02: 134-25 (3 Final Fours, 1 NCAA Championship)
Coach K-Duke 1997-98 to 2001-02: 164-19 (2 Final Fours, 1 Runner Up, 1 NCAA Championship)
Bill Self-Kansas 2005-06 to 2009-10: 161-27 (1 Final Four, 1 NCAA Championship)
John Wooden-UCLA 1968-69 to 1972-73: 146-4 (5 NCAA Championships- has to be remembered even though UCLA was insane it was easier to win the Championship because the tournament only had 16 teams during those seasons)
Bobby Knight-Indiana 1971-72 to 1975-76: 125- 20 (2 Final Fours and 1 NCAA Championship)
Rick Pitino- Kentucky 1992-03 to 1996-97: 154-23 (3 Final Fours, 1 Runner Up, 1 NCAA Championship)
John Thompson- Georgetown 1982-83 to 1986-87: 144-29 (2 Final Fours, 1 Runner Up, 1 NCAA Championship)
Jerry Tarkanian- UNLV 1987-88 to 1991-92: 152-22(2 Final Fours, 1 NCAA Championship)
Roy Williams- North Carolina 2004-05 to 2008-09: 157-26 (3 Final Fours, 2 NCAA Championships)
Adolph Rupp- Kentucky 1946-47 to 1950-51: 159-15 (3 Final Fours, 3 NCAA Championships)
Mark Few- Gonzaga 2001-02 to 2005-06: 136-25 (No Final Fours)
Dean Smith, Lute Olson and Gary Williams didn't even come close. Surprisingly, when I looked at their coach records, none of them ever had back to back 30 win seasons.
The only person from the list whose record is clearly above Calipari is John Wooden.
For me, the best comparison on the list is Jerry Tarkanian. Tark was with a school from a weaker conference in UNLV (just like Calipari's four years with Memphis) and he did not mind bending the rules for success.