Posted on: July 23, 2008 12:51 am
LAS VEGAS -- Any UMass fans wanting to watch their new coach (Derek Kellogg) work against their old coach (John Calipari) in a scheduled game at Memphis on Nov. 17 are probably gonna have to stay up late to do it if things go as planned, because right now the plan is to tip it off at 12 a.m. ET, after ESPN's Monday Night Football telecast.
"That's what I hear," Kellogg said, though he added he didn't think everything was finalized just yet. Either way, this is happening barring some breakdown and Calipari is already trying to think of ways to get fans to FedExForum for what will be an 11 p.m. tip local time on a Monday, which isn't good for anybody with a normal job that requires their presence Tuesday mornings.
"We're going to have to turn it into an event," Calipari said.
One idea he's bouncing around is to have the Monday Night Football game broadcast inside FedExForum on the jumbotron and trying to get everybody down to watch the game and party in the building for three or four hours before tipoff. I suggested he hand out free tickets to patrons of the Flying Saucer, a nearby pub that has a "Pint Night" every Monday and always draws a crowd.
"That might work," Calipari said.
It's no surprise ESPN would come to Calipari with this unconventional idea, by the way. There's a natural storyline with him coaching against UMass for the first time since he led the school to the 1996 Final Four, and that's always good for television. Also, Calipari did four "midnight games" when he was at UMass because he values national exposure over anything else, which is why he's leaving Las Vegas Wednesday morning to fly to Los Angeles to co-host the Best Damn Sports Show Period the next two nights.
In other words, ESPN knew Calipari might be the one guy who would go for this crazy plan.
Because it would mean extra national exposure for the Memphis program.
And that's what is most important to Calipari, regardless of the time.
Posted on: April 19, 2008 10:58 am
Edited on: April 19, 2008 11:01 am
Proof that Derek Kellogg is likely to land the UMass job came Friday when Tony Barbee withdrew from consideration.
On the surface, Barbee's withdrawal makes no sense.
Barbee is a UMass graduate and man who has been successful recruiting the New England area. So the former Memphis assistant and current UTEP head coach was an obvious candidate to replace Travis Ford, particularly when considering Barbee was a finalist for the job when Ford was hired three years ago.
But Barbee withdrew Friday before the process even really got started.
Why, you ask?
Multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com it wasn't as much about Barbee not being interested as it was about Barbee being told he probably shouldn't be interested any longer by his former boss John Calipari. In other words, the sources said Calipari strongly suggested -- which is a nice way of writing "pretty much demanded" -- Barbee get out of the way of Kellogg, a Memphis assistant who, like Barbee, is a former player at UMass under Calipari.
So why does this suggest Kellogg is the UMass frontrunner?
Because it seems out of character for Calipari to run the risk if upsetting a former player and assistant like Barbee by preventing him from landing a job at his alma mater -- for more money, it's worth noting -- unless Calipari had some sort of assurance from the UMass administration that Kellogg is very much in play. There is no other way to view this. Which is why it was no surprise that Kellogg spent Friday interviewing with UMass officials within hours of Barbee publicly withdrawing, and why it'll be less of a surprise if he is named Ford's replacement at UMass early next week.
Posted on: April 17, 2008 12:33 am
Edited on: April 17, 2008 12:39 am
UMass athletic director Jack McCutcheon told The Republican newspaper Wednesday that head coaching experience would be looked upon "favorably" as he searches for Travis Ford's replacement. If that's true, John Calipari might be able to avoid the unenviable task of trying to aid one of his former players in pursuit of the opening without angering the other.
Here's the deal: Tony Barbee and Derek Kellogg both played at UMass under Calipari and are two men who would like to return to their alma mater under the right circumstances. In other words, they are friends and former colleagues (they both worked on the same staff at Memphis from 2000-2006) now interested in the same job, which puts Calipari in a tough spot because it's reasonable to assume he will be heavily involved in assisting the school he led to the 1996 Final Four.
So what should Calipari do?
Push for Barbee, one of his closest friends in the business?
Or push for Kellogg, one of his closest friends in the business?
There is no good answer, obviously, but McCutcheon might've given Calipari an out. If head coaching experience is a prerequisite or even a strongly desired attribute, Calipari can fairly push Barbee because he has been UTEP's head coach the past two seasons while Kellogg just finished his eighth year as a Memphis assistant. So that could be Calipari's rationale, the deciding factor he uses based upon the idea that it is already the deciding factor McCutcheon plans to use.
Of course there are other viable candidates with previous head coaching experience -- like Tom Herrion (former Charleston head coach/current Pitt assistant), Kevin Willard (Iona head coach), Fran McCaffrey (Siena head coach), Tim O'Shea (Ohio head coach) and Tom Moore (Quinnipiac head coach). But before Calipari can push his preferred candidate against any of those candidates he has to decide who his preferred candidate will be, and the good news for the Memphis coach is that McCutcheon might've aleady done it for him.