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Calipari Taking More Licks From SportsWriters

As we wrote yesterday, when the SEC office or a team of NCAA investigators come down on a coach, fans of that coach always cry “Witch-hunt!”

Likewise, when sportswriters and talking heads begin to hurl barbs at said coach, it’s the writers and the talkers who are in the wrong.

Of course, when you’re talking about John Calipari, only Andy Katz, Dick Vitale and a handful of others DON’T rip him on a regular basis.  Just like NCAA scrutiny, being called “The Prince of Darkness” by media members is part of the Calipari package.  Kentucky fans should expect it.

Among those chiming in on Coach Cal this week are Paul Finebaum of The Mobile Press-Register and Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Let’s start with the venomous keyboard of Finebaum.  In his view, Calipari needs to have a moving company on speed dial, just in case the Eric Bledsoe case blows up.

“Does it matter that everywhere Cal goes, a stench follows that is harder to scrub away than the oil sludge currently crashing into the Gulf beaches courtesy of BP,” Finebaum asked.  He continued with a number of shots at the UK program and its NCAA violation-peppered history before finishing with the following paragraph:

“Kentucky is laughing all the way to the bank — as always.  Cal knows the headlines will fade.  He remains the biggest thing to hit Kentucky since Colonel Sanders.  And another thing seems pretty certain.  He’ll win UK a national championship over the new few years and then leave.  Probably, as the NCAA vacates the title and the banners once again come crashing down.”

Schultz’ piece isn’t much more flattering.  “And speaking of bankrupt souls, there’s another shadowy figure up ahead.  It looks like, it could be… yes, it’s John Calipari.”

He then tosses out an interesting historical comparison for those who continue to say Calipari has never been personally implicated in an NCAA scandal.

“OK.  It’s true Calipari was not directly implicated at Memphis or UMass.  He may not be directly implicated here.  But isn’t that the way it always works?  Al Capone: tax evasion.”

Schultz also compares Calipari to Lou Holtz, a man who managed to land Minnesota, Notre Dame and South Carolina on probation without ever having to suffer a single penalty himself.



I’ll throw out one word of caution to all the folks blasting Calipari.  Yes, this new investigation fits perfectly with his history.  Yes, the fact that it’s happened before seems to make it more likely that this investigation will turn up some dirt.

But the dirt’s not been turned up yet.  Kentucky fans can take solace in the fact that the NCAA will need to prove one of the following before ruling Bledsoe ineligible after the fact:

1)  Bledsoe’s grades were somehow “fixed.”

2)  Bledsoe’s high school coach paid for his family’s rent.

3)  Bledsoe’s high school coach was asking for cash from colleges.  In that case, the investigation will turn from Bledsoe’s eligibility to who might have paid for his services.

I would say the odds are 50/50 at best that the NCAA will be able to reach one of those conclusions.

 




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