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The Score - Anthony Schoettle

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Sports Business

UK's Calipari shows IU what it has in Crean

May 21, 2010
KEYWORDS Sports Business

University of Kentucky Coach John Calipari shows all that is right with IU Coach Tom Crean.

While I’m not convinced in the effectiveness of Crean’s offense or his recruiting tactics, at least the Hoosier faithful don’t have to go through all the off-season hand wringing that Kentucky is enduring right now.

It’s just the sort of thing you get with guys like Calipari and Louisville’s Rick Pitino, who are constantly looking for the BBD (Bigger, Better Deal) and aren’t too fond of telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

I had to laugh this morning when no less of an authority than Dick Vitale said on ESPN that Calipari flatly denied that he is looking to jump to the NBA after one year at Kentucky. Vitale said, “People need to get into reality. All this speculation is just a waste of time.”

I think Vitale himself may need a reality check. How many times have high-flying coaches said one thing publicly and turned around and done the exact opposite?

I’m sure if Calipari is considering leaving UK, a mouthpiece like Vitale is the last person he’d tell.

Though IU Athletic Director Fred Glass didn’t hire Crean,  he told me recently regarding the school’s basketball coach, “We absolutely have the right guy.”

I'm not here to address the Xs and Os, but from a business perspective, I see where Glass is coming from.

In Crean, IU has a stable, straightforward guy you simply don’t get with a lot of college coaches these days. Yes, I know Crean knocks down about $2 million annually in cash and prizes from IU, but it seems a relatively small price to pay when you stand him next  to Calipari.

To catch you up on the latest drama in Lexington, word is that a character by the name of William Wesley, who slides along the underbelly of college and pro hoops orchestrating deals of all types and declining interviews, is putting together a deal to get Calipari delivered to the same NBA team that signs LeBron James.

World Wide Wes as he is known in basketball circles has a long history with King James, including ushering him (just after his high school graduation) to the World Basketball Championships in Indianapolis in 2002 to assure he met all the most important people in the basketball kingdom. As a side note, former Indiana Pacer Jalen Rose claimed yesterday he coined the nickname World Wide Wes.

It should also be mentioned that Calipari has piloted two teams to the Final Four that had to later abdicate those wins due to player eligibility issues. Something a certain former IU coach pointed out recently.

It’s rare in the ego-driven world of big-time sports to get a straight shooter. Indiana college basketball has three notable folks of this ilk. I could have just as easily written this post about Purdue’s Matt Painter or Butler’s Brad Stevens.

But neither of those two are under fire for their win-loss record as Crean is. The IU coach will likely be under more pressure as more losses mount this year. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day.

Glass is convinced in time Crean will rebuild the powerhouse program that IU knew under Bob Knight.

I’m not convinced of that yet. But I do think Crean tells the truth. I think he’ll stay devoted to the Cream and Crimson and retire from the school if given half a chance.

And that’s something to consider for all those folks who were clamoring for IU to hire Calipari two years ago.

Perhaps IU administrators should have buddied up with World Wide Wes, and lured Calipari to Bloomington.

If they had, though, you'd have to wonder where the program would be now?

And what price would it pay for that decision down the road?
 

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