So let's go over the list of candidates:
Tom Izzo, Michigan State: Unless Barnhart listens to me, this will be the next candidate he approaches. Izzo certainly meets the first criterion and might meet No. 2, though I doubt it. But he'll say no, so what's the point? Izzo is a Michigan (state) man, and more important, he's a Michigan State man, and most important, he's not leaving the Spartans for any job but one in the NBA. Just my opinion.
Rick Barnes, Texas: Barnes is a great recruiter and a good, if not great, coach. So he passes the first test. Would he be embraced by Kentucky fans? Right or wrong, their perception of Barnes is that he plays a grinding style. That was once true, but ask Southern California or Kansas if Barnes' most recent Texas team grinded. Had these Longhorns grinded, they'd have reached the Final Four. They just weren't tough enough. Anyway ... I think Barnes would say no. He already has an elite job, minus the pressure. They love him in Texas, where he took his team no farther than Tubby Smith took Kentucky in the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Barnes is too smart to come to Kentucky.
John Calipari, Memphis: Great coach, great recruiter. Would he say yes? I'm guessing he would, but that's no sure thing. He can stay where he is and coast to 25 or 30 wins every year for the rest of his career -- and don't say he can't win a national title at Memphis, which he has led to consecutive Elite Eights. Would Kentucky embrace him? Some fans would love him. Some would hate him. Right about now, Kentucky doesn't need more division.
Tom Crean, Marquette: Longtime college basketball guru Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News thinks Crean is the perfect hire. Others no doubt agree. I don't. Crean's awfully good, but I can't call him great just yet. Sorry. Just can't do it. And why would Kentucky Nation embrace him? He has been forever dying to follow Tom Izzo, not Tubby Smith. If he got the UK job -- and he'd say yes -- Crean would surely profess his love for Kentucky ... but would Kentucky believe him?
Mark Few, Gonzaga: Be serious. Wrong geography.
Jay Wright, Villanova: Didn't I ask you to be serious? Kentucky already had one city slicker, Rick Pitino. They don't need another (and you know I like you, Jay Wright).
Billy Gillispie, Texas A&M: Here's the guy. Tactically, Gillispie is a great coach, right up there with John Beilein and, well, John Beilein. The year before Gillispie got to UTEP, the Miners were 10-22. Two years later, they were 24-8. The year before he got to Texas A&M, the Aggies were 7-21. In two years, he went 48-17. And before all that, he was known as Bill Self's ace recruiter. Wow. Now then ... socio-politically, Gillispie is everything Kentucky fans want in a coach: a good old boy who looks and sounds just like they do. I'm from Mississippi. I know a redneck coach, and a redneck fan base, when I see it. My neck's red too, y'all. And finally ... Gillispie would accept the job. If he has caller ID on his phone and someone -- anyone -- from the Lexington, Ky., area code calls him today, Gillispie will answer not with "hello" but with "yes."
So pop the question, Kentucky.