Posted on: March 30, 2009 11:33 am
Edited on: March 30, 2009 11:44 am

A Kentucky/Calipari update

Barring a breakdown in negotiations, the Kentucky job is John Calipari's to take, and the Memphis coach could verbally accept an informal offer in the next 24 hours, a source close to Calipari has told CBSSports.com. Meantime, The Commercial Appeal is reporting that Calipari met with the Memphis players Monday morning, and that "the players left the meeting convinced Calipari would take the job."

As of Monday morning, Kentucky still had not officially asked permission to speak with Calipari, but that's probably moot. The only reason to request permission is if an administrator wants to speak with another schools' coach, and sources have told CBSSports.com that Calipari is dealing with a third party representative working on behalf of Kentucky in an informal capacity, not necessarily UK "officials".

Sources added that Calipari spent Saturday night in Chicago visiting former Tiger and current Chicago Bull Derrick Rose. One of those sources said a meeting with a third party representative of UK could've taken place that night, or early Sunday morning.

Kentucky is searching for a replacement for Billy Gillispie.

He was fired last Friday after two seasons.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 29, 2009 11:45 pm

Kentucky could meet with Calipari on Monday

Memphis coach John Calipari has let Kentucky officials know that he's interested in the school's vacant head coaching position, and he could talk with UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart as early as Monday, a source with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com on Sunday.

Kentucky fired Billy Gillispie on Friday after just two seasons, and CBSSports.com immediately reported Calipari as a legitimate candidate despite the Memphis coach telling local media he planned to remain at Memphis for a 10th season. Multiple sources close to Calipari have said there's no guarantee he would take the Kentucky job if offered, but those same sources have privately insisted for weeks that if Kentucky showed interest Calipari would listen.

One possible problem with jumping to Kentucky, some have claimed, is that Calipari has the nation's top recruiting class lined up, and he would not want to leave that behind. But those close to Calipari believe it's possible to take parts of that recruiting class to Kentucky -- specifically unsigned prospects DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall -- and that if Calipari could pair it with Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks the Wildcats might threaten for a Final Four next season.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 28, 2009 7:18 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2009 12:03 pm

Your daily Kentucky update

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- It's relatively slow on the Kentucky front, which could be a clue that Mitch Barnhart is in a holding pattern of sorts, waiting for somebody to finish his season, somebody like -- oh, I don't know -- Tom Izzo.

Could it be Izzo?

Of course, it could be.

But would Izzo take it?

Honestly, that question is a little tougher to answer, although I can tell you with a degree of certainty that folks who insist Izzo would never consider leaving Michigan State are wrong. He would absolutely consider it. What I'm less sure of is whether Izzo would be able to pull the trigger when the trigger needs to be pulled, or if he'd think about leaving, talk about leaving and genuinely want to leave before ultimately rejecting an offer because he simply can't do it.

Either way, know this: An industry source told me Saturday that Barnhart has identified "about six" coaches he believes could "handle" the job on and off the court, and that Izzo is absolutely one of those guys. The source added money won't be a problem, although it should be noted that money won't likely be what lures the next Kentucky coach to Kentucky because every legitimate candidate is already rich.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 27, 2009 9:07 pm

Billy Gillispie has a stalker

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- I'm all for being a persistent reporter, but some TV guy in Kentucky probably took it too far Friday when he stalked Billy Gillispie through a building in an attempt to get ... actually, I'm not sure what he thought he was going to get. But if the goal was to look like a jerk on camera, well, congratulations are in order because the local TV guy certainly achieved that.

Click this link to see it.

Tell me what you think.

And for all you other coaches out there reading, let me say this: If you're going to fake being on the phone to avoid talking to reporters -- like Gillispie seemed to be doing -- I'd advise you to at least say some words every few seconds. Otherwise, you're just a dude with a phone stuck to your ear, and that looks kind of silly.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 27, 2009 5:51 pm
Edited on: March 27, 2009 5:52 pm

If you missed the press conference ...

The following is the text of Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart's opening statement from his press conference.

Barnhart fired Billy Gillispie on Friday.

Hello everyone, thanks for coming on short notice. During my tenure here at Kentucky, I have watched and appreciated the passion Kentucky fans have for our basketball program. This is a cradle-to-grave love; it is deeply rooted and creates a sense of pride across the Commonwealth. Kentucky basketball influences when weddings are held and causes its followers to get in a car and drive 12 hours to Omaha on a Monday night. I also understand this rich and proud basketball program belongs to the people of Kentucky and its millions of fans around the world. Coach (Adolph) Rupp started something that is now bigger than any one person. Coaches, players and administrators get the privilege of serving this program simply as caretakers for a brief moment in its history. I will continue to maintain the principles we have established since coming here, most importantly ensuring the quality of the student-athlete experience. It is my responsibility to ensure that the University of Kentucky continues to be a special place in the hearts and minds of our fans across the nation, and that the right pieces are in place to return the basketball program to a championship level and continue those proud traditions of success.

 This is not a place I thought we would be at this point, or one that I would want to be. However, after long and deliberate discussions, President (Lee T.) Todd and I have decided we must charter a new direction for the University of Kentucky men’s basketball program. Unfortunately there are times when a situation and the people involved do not create the right chemistry or right fit. It is our belief that is where we are and where we find ourselves with Kentucky basketball today. For that reason, we decided to not bring Coach Gillispie back to lead our men’s basketball program.  We firmly believe that moving in a different direction will be in the best interest of everyone involved with this program. It is my responsibility, and I understand that, to hire the coaches, a coach that embraces the fans and the national attention at Kentucky and is committed to the principles of our program. The University of Kentucky and its dedicated and passionate fans deserve a coach that understands that this is not just another coaching job. We obviously did not achieve the results we all desired on the floor this season. Those results can occur when you are trying to grow a program, we clearly understand that. However, it is as important to represent the Kentucky program and the basketball program, more specifically, in a manner which best utilizes our incredible tradition, assets and platform.

 It is my evaluation that we have not done all we can to manage the entire scope of the program and all that we expect. There is a clear difference in how the rules and responsibilities overseeing the program are viewed. It is a gap that I do not believe can be solved by just winning games. It is a philosophical disparity that I do not believe can be repaired and again, the chemistry is just not right. These situations are always very difficult and individuals and their families are traumatically impacted. I’m sorry for that. I would like to thank Coach Gillispie and his staff for the effort they gave the last two years. Billy has a great passion for the game of basketball and I truly wish him and his staff the best in the future.

 So now we must move forward. We will share some of the details of the search process as they develop and as we can. We understand the challenge and importance of finding our next caretaker for this very special basketball program. It is to be done with great concern for the welfare and image of the student-athletes, administration and students of the University of Kentucky, its fans and the people of the Commonwealth. Like everyone else who loves this program, we desire for Kentucky basketball to be a part of the championship picture every year; that is our goal. We will work to that end while representing the University of Kentucky with pride and professionalism. Thanks  and I’d be glad to answer a few questions…”

Posted on: March 27, 2009 4:49 pm

Donovan will not be a candidate at Kentucky

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Billy Donovan is staying at Florida.

A source close to Florida told CBSSports.com that Donovan will not be a candidate for any college job that is open or might open later this offseason, Kentucky included. An official statement is expected later Friday.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 27, 2009 4:03 pm
Edited on: March 27, 2009 5:46 pm

There's a big gap between Donovan and Ford

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- With Billy Donovan out of the picture , Kentucky must now turn elsewhere.

Tom Izzo?

That would be excellent.

John Calipari?

That would be tremendous.

But I'm less sure about Travis Ford, and I like Travis Ford. He was great at Oklahoma State this season; that school is lucky to have him. But the reality is that Ford has coached nine Division I seasons at three different schools and been to just two NCAA tournaments, which doesn't suggest he's guaranteed to succeed anywhere, much less somewhere like Kentucky. He might . Or he could miss the NCAA tournament three straight years like he did at UMass. It's hard to tell, and that's my point.

Mitch Barnhart should be less interested in gambling on a UK graduate -- which some are reporting is possible -- than securing a guaranteed home run like Izzo or Calipari or Jay Wright or any number of guys. Some day, Ford might be in that class. But he's not there now, and that should make Barnhart hesitant, because if he completes another questionable hire that goes bad then the next UK press conference might not be to announce a new coach in two years, but a new athletic director with a better track record of success.

Posted on: March 26, 2009 4:55 pm
Edited on: March 26, 2009 6:51 pm

What's up with the Gillispie situation?

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Even here in FedExForum, with four of the best teams in the country gathered for Friday night's games, the question I've been asked most today doesn't involve Blake Griffin or Tyler Hansbrough, or even Ty Lawson's toe. No, the question I've been asked most -- by coaches and other media people -- is this: When is the Billy Gillispie thing going down?

Answer: Soon ... barring a major change of plans.

Multiple sources -- and by multiple, I mean like 70 -- have told CBSSports.com that Gillispie will almost certainly never coach another game at Kentucky, that it's simply a matter of making it official. The prevailing thought is that a humbled Gillispie could possibly save himself by acknowledging missteps and promising to better embrace the celebrity that goes hand-in-hand with coaching at Kentucky, but people close to Gillispie insist he's "too stubborn" for that, and that he'd take his $6 million buyout and walk away before ever greatly altering his personality.

So why the wait?

Sources have said UK would like to have a replacement lined up before it moves on Gillispie, that the ideal scenario has the school introducing its next head coach less than 48 hours after Gillispie is asked to resign.  More than likely, that means athletic director Mitch Barnhart is spending today trying to determine -- through intermediaries, of course -- if Florida's Billy Donovan will really jump, and if he won't then the next two likely candidates are Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Memphis' John Calipari, both of whom are still coaching their teams in this NCAA tournament and thus unavailable for the time being.

Here's a prediction: Kentucky will get one of those three.

Which one?

I'll let you guess, for now.

But any list that includes a fourth option is probably a list one name too long, because Barnhart will do whatever it takes to make a home run hire, well aware that he can't take a chance on a relatively young option and risk another mistake. Another mistake will cost him his job, but Donovan, Izzo or Calipari would extend it for years, no question.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com