MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Dr. Shirley Raines, R.C. Johnson and Sheri Lipman --- i.e., the Memphis president, athletic director and legal counsel -- got all dressed up Thursday and spent the afternoon answering questions on live TV about the NCAA's decision to strip their Tigers of the 2008 Final Four.
Meantime, former coach John Calipari was, well, let's just go straight to Twitter.
"Went 2 breakfast w/ Michael McCallister this morning. He's the CEO of Humana [Louisville's biggest employer] and a great golfer by the way. Also met w/ Matt Thorton of Thorton convenience stores. He makes his management team read one book a month."
Then, a few minutes later.
"Had a great tour of The Mercantile Gallery Lofts in downtown Louisville."
So while the Memphis administration was planning an appeal, the former Memphis coach who oversaw the program during the time it committed major violations was one time zone east, meeting with the people who will undoubtedly help him achieve greatness at Kentucky. And this is how college basketball works. If a coach makes a mess, it's fine as long as he A.) keeps his hands technically clean, and B.) gets out of town before the you-know-what hits the fan. Do those things, and there are no tangible repercussions. Hell, you might even get a $32 million contract from another school yearning for success at whatever cost.
That said, Calipari still took a hit Thursday.
He might not acknowledge it or even care.
But sooner or later this story will cease being about Memphis and fully become about Kentucky and Calipari, and it'll hardly matter that he was never directly implicated in the scandal at UMass or Memphis. Our memories don't operate that way, and for proof I offer Ohio State.
|John Calipari can expect criticism the rest of his career. (US Presswire)|
(And I'm not talking about football, by the way.)
What about UNLV?
My guess is that you think Ohio State was dirty under Jim O'Brien, UNLV was dirty under Jerry Tarkanian, Oklahoma was dirty under Kelvin Sampson and Georgia was dirty under Jim Harrick, but that you don't think of Ohio State, UNLV, Oklahoma and Georgia as independently dirty.
Because society doesn't attach filth to programs as much as it does coaches, that's why. And that's the hard reality Kentucky will battle going forward -- that whatever it accomplishes under Calipari will be met with a roll of the eyes by pretty much everybody outside of the Commonwealth. It doesn't matter whether that's fair or right or whatever. That's the way it's going to be, and I'll go ahead and predict no less than 150 anti-Calipari columns if Kentucky marches to next year's Final Four, which is very much possible given a roster featuring John Wall, Patrick Patterson and DeMarcus Cousins.
And forget about the Hall of Fame.
Sure, Calipari will have Hall of Fame credentials, and it could be argued that he already has them. But I can't imagine a scenario where a man with two vacated Final Fours is inducted. So the new Kentucky coach who so badly wanted to be accepted as part of the establishment is now forever reduced to outsider status, and I couldn't help but chuckle when I told a friend about Calipari's Tweet discussing his meeting with Matt Thornton, who, remember, "makes his management team read one book a month."
"Maybe Cal should read a book a month, too," my friend replied. "He could start with the NCAA rulebook."
That's just one of many shots levied against Calipari on Thursday.
Rest assured, they won't stop anytime soon.