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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Did Calipari’s move doom Arizona?

    Arizona’s next basketball coach, whomever it may be, might need to win a few games to earn respect from fans, because it might not be love at first sight.

    As each hour passes, so does UA athletic director Jim Livengood’s opportunity to sign a top-tier coach with a flashy résumé.

    Time doesn’t appear to be a friend of Livengood. The coaching carousel has taken off so quickly, it may leave UA in the dust.

    That is, unless he’s got a secret weapon. Credit to Livengood: He’s kept a five-month, high-profile search a completely lips-sealed secret. Otherwise, the search could’ve been exposed, spoiled and ruined with report of So-And-So’s contract negotiations.

    Talk about exposed: Kentucky fired Billie Gillespie, and within 72 hours, reports leaked information that John Calipari was on the radar in Lexington.

    Except Kentucky can actually put up those ridiculous dollar amounts to get the deal done, regardless of speculation.

    UK’s narrow radar was locked, loaded and landed in a matter of hours. Not days. Not months. But hours after Gillespie flunked out of the Harvard Law School of college basketball. Several media outlets reported that Calipari agreed to a outlandish, eight-year contract at $31.65 million.

    Tucson felt those shockwaves. Like 31.65 on the Richter Scale.

    Calipari was considered one of UA’s top coaching candidates as a guy looking to upgrade a conference. It’s unknown whether Livengood legitimately considered Calipari, but the former Memphis coach probably affected UA’s search beyond just losing a potential candidate to succeed Lute Olson.

    Calipari mugged Memphis. He could be taking his – not the schools, but his – personal top-ranked recruiting class with him to Kentucky.

    So what does Calipari-to-Kentucky mean for Arizona?

    If Livengood doesn’t have a deal in place already – and he very well might – it means the market value could be skewed in terms of how much any college coach is worth.

    Calipari’s deal undoubtedly puts him as the highest paid college basketball coach in the country. Will other big names expect similar dollars? And in turn, will B-list names expect adjusted market values?

    What recession?

    According to Pennell, all eyes are on the money that UK is spending.

    “”I think a lot of guys in coaching right now are waiting to see how everything trickles down, watching the Kentucky thing to see what happens from there,”” Pennell said. “”That’s a whole different monster. They’re talking about Monopoly money, man, that stuff they throw around.””

    Aside from an economic standpoint, Calipari’s arrival at Kentucky should certainly keep Rick Pitino situated at Louisville – another dream A-list coach UA could’ve gone after. It’s no secret that Pitino and Calipari have a rivalry, and for Pitino to leave immediately after Calipari joins the UK-UL rivalry would make Pitino look scared.

    So where does that leave Arizona? Without two top-tier guys like Pitino and Calipari, who’s left on the board?

    Forget about the A-listers

    ? Don’t rule him out, but Mark Few would probably prefer the potential opening at Oregon, based on his emphasis on the “”quality of life”” factor when it comes to relocating. Few, an avid outdoorsman, would certainly be able to embrace the northwest’s nature a lot better than some desert. Last time I check, hunting season in Tucson occurs at the same time as snow season. Then again, money will be the bottom line.

    ? Despite Jamie Dixon’s West Coast ties, he’s not leaving Pittsburgh.

    ? And neither is Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, or Villanova’s Jay Wright, both coaches with current Final Four teams.

    B-list coaches would do just fine

    Here’s a hybrid of up-and-coming and already-sorta-established: Oklahoma’s Jeff Capel, Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl – both basketball coaches at football schools – and Xavier’s Sean Miller would “”win the press conference”” and more than satisfy fans for the time being. Granted, it’ll take a heavy cash buyout to lure a coach from a BCS school. But like I said, money will be the bottom line. And Capel would be the obvious favorite of this group.

    Safety coaches as last, last resort

    And those “”Just In Case All Else Fails”” coaches: St. Mary’s Randy Bennett, UNLV’s Lon Kruger, and the unemployed Reggie Theus. First on this list would’ve been VCU’s Anthony Grant, but he bounced for Alabama.

    If it were up to me

    Go strong after Mark Few and Jeff Capel. Both would win the press conference and have proven themselves.

    – Bryan Roy is a journalism sophomore. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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