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Calipari Is Literally Worth Every Penny

Yesterday, we appeared on WKJK-AM in Louisville.  During a discussion with Kentucky play-by-play man and show host Tom Leach, we pointed out that John Calipari’s new mega-contract with Kentucky is simply a wise investment by the school.

With every win Calipari puts on the board — and we’re talking about the ones the NCAA allows him to count — exposure increases for UK.  That’s exposure for the school, not just the hoops program.  Winning brings exposure and exposure brings revenue (and even new students). 

That was our take anyway.

Turns out, Coach Cal has now detailed that very thing on ESPN Radio:

“Our licensing revenue doubled last year and half of that double goes back to the general fund for our campus, $4.5 million in licensing.  The other thing is we had 14,000 applicants for 4,000 positions for the freshmen, which is the highest in the history of the school.  What you hope is you’ve added value… for everybody, not just me.”

When Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2007 and it was announced he’d make about $4 million per season, fans and media members gasped.  “How can any school pay a coach that much?”

“Mal Moore can answer that,” writes Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News.  Saban has taken the Tide to BCS games (more money, more exposure), won a national title (more exposure), led the school to a stadium expansion (more money), and driven up merchandise sales (more money). 

That big money UA and UK are spending for their top o’ the line coaches?  It’s actually smart money.  The schools are getting good returns on their investments.

There’s a reason so many of us feel guys like Calipari and Saban are “worth every penny” of their huge contracts — the bottom line proves they are.

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New Names Appear On The Arkansas Coaching Watch List

For the final month of John Pelphey’s tenure in Fayetteville, many Arkansas fans kept their eyes on the Missouri Tigers.  Mizzou head coach Mike Anderson is a “40 minutes of Hell,” pressure-defense, Nolan Richardson disciple.  Anderson is the man many Hog fans want leading the UA program next season.

Of course, there are many other fans — and quite a few impact boosters — who do not want any part of Anderson.  Why?  Well, did we mention that he’s a Nolan Richardson disciple?  UA and Richardson had a harsh split and despite the fact the ex-coach returned for a game this year, many hard feelings remain.  Some fear that bringing in Anderson would re-open the door for Richardson to try to exert some influence over the program.

But Anderson — as we’ve noted more than a few times — might not be a viable option in the first place.  The Tigers’ coach has already turned down more lucrative offers (from Georgia and Oregon) in the last couple of years to remain at Missouri.  He’s already put his lesser money where his mouth is.  And earlier this month he actually called a beatwriter for The Columbia Tribune to say: “I plan on being at Missouri for a long time, retire here.”

If Arkansas chooses to make a run at Mizzou’s coach and can’t convince him to move six hours to the Southwest, where will UA turn?  And, no, we still don’t buy the Tubby Smith-to-Arkansas talk (though Kentucky play-by-play man Tom Leach told me during his radio show yesterday that he wouldn’t be surprised to see the ex-Wildcat coach land in the ACC).

From Day One of the search, the names Mark Turgeon (Texas A&M), Buzz Williams (Marquette) and Frank Martin (Kansas State) have been floating around.  Harry King of adds the names Greg Marshall (Wichita State) and Mick Cronin (Cincinnati) to the list today.

Former Kentucky coach Billy Gillispee’s name has made its way around the rumor mill a couple of times, but Arkansas AD Jeff Long said this week that the Razorback job “will command a sitting head coach at a high level.”  That doesn’t describe Gillispee’s current situation.

So do any of those names — Turgeon, Williams, Martin, Marshall and Cronin — really guarantee success?

On the “big name” front, Tim Floyd (and his NCAA baggage), Bill Self (Kansas) and Jamie Dixon (Pittsburgh) have also popped up in messageboard chatter.  Enough so that they’ve made one blog’s “rumor” list. — the Rivals site covering Arkansas — tosses out a few more potential candidates: Scott Drew (Baylor), Steve Lavin (St. John’s), Billy Kennedy (Murray State), Shaka Smart (VCU), and Doc Sadler (Nebraska). 

Obviously, the fanbase will clamor for Anderson, Self, and/or Dixon.  But we’ve discussed Anderson’s apparent desire to stay put (and the political battles his hiring would bring).  Self won’t leave Kansas for Arkansas (or any place else) regardless of the Big 12′s shaky future.  And Dixon turned down perennial power Arizona last year.  Why would he jump at the Razorbacks’ opening now?

If the Hogs don’t land one of those big three, then there will be question marks about UA’s new hire.  Arkansas fans tired of Pelphrey will tell you that anyone on the above list would be an improvement, but the truth is, UA canned Pelphrey in the hopes of returning to the glory days.  Would guys like Turgeon or Williams or Cronin guarantee such a rebound?  The jury’s still out on that one.

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