Our good 'ole buddy Jay Bilas recently did an interview on azcentral.com. It's a pretty decent barring the absurdities that spewed from Bilas in one section of the interview:
azcentral.com: "Given his past, was hiring Calipari a risk?"
Jay Bilas: "Well, I don't really look at it that way. John Calipari never had an NCAA issue. People say, 'Well, he's had two banners vacated.' Over what? UMass had the 1996 Final Four banner vacated over a kid taking a kid money from an agent. How's a coach going to stop that? He can't control that, and it's ludicrous for people to suggest that he can. The other thing, with Derrick Rose, Rose was considered ineligible, and Memphis is supposed to catch that when the clearinghouse and the testing authority didn't raise an issue until the weekend of the Final Four? What are they going to do? I don't know of any school, anywhere, that would've held a player out with that kind of flimsy evidence."
To say that Calipari never had an NCAA issue or didn't know what was going on in his program is like saying Microsoft didn't know about the dreaded Xbox 360 Ring of Death, but the real kicker is Bilas more or less claiming that Kentucky has nothing to worry about. This is the same Kentucky program that has been at the center of NCAA sanctions no less than five times in its rich history. Don't worry about that?
Calipari is the only man ever to roam the earth that had two Final Four banners confiscated. He even beat out the Godfather of NCAA scrutiny, Jerry Tarkanian.
But don't worry. Calipari's relationship with the highly influential street agent World Wide Wes isn't a problem. They only trades cooking recipes, not recruits. Surely the NCAA won't look at that. Memphis lost 38 victories, a runner-up trophy, their Final Four appearance, banners, and a few million dollars, but don't you sweat it, Kentucky. You, too, can have a vacated Final Four just like Memphis and UMass.
The sweetest thing about Coach Calipari is when the heat is on he possesses an awesome willingness to fully cooperate with the NCAA, because he knows nothing, did nothing wrong, and will leave for another job that pays more.
In 1996 Calipari left UMass for the New Jersey Nets to the tune of 16 Million, and now after the Memphis bomb it's on to Kentucky for 34 million. It's the most wonderful state of ignorance by a person that I have seen since former Enron official Ken Lay defrauded millions.
And I get it, Kentucky fans. No one can technically say Calipari did wrong, but it's real shady in here. As the old saying goes, "Where there's smoke, there's fire". Calipari didn't start the fire, but he smells like smoke and it's enough to make anyone with casual intelligence cough up a lung from the fumes.
Bilas is used to this game, so I really shouldn't be shocked by his remarks. His Duke alma mater was able to keep Corey Maggette around. Maggette got his cash through an AAU coach while still in high school; the funds filtered down from agent donations. His amateur status was deleted, hence, he should not have been able to play for Duke's 1999 Final Four team. Bilas doesn't see the dirt in that either.
With Calipari at Kentucky's helm the school will look like ringers, but the worries won't happen immediately. It should be a fun ride for Kentucky until Calipari jumps ship (and he will according to his history). That's when the skeletons in his closet could choke out the potential accomplishments in Kentucky's future grasp.
The microscope is on now more than ever. For almost the first time in his life, Calipari will be going into the home of recruits also visited by Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski. It's a different ball game for Calipari and he won't be able to use the same old bag of tricks. Yes, Jay, Kentucky needs to worry.