The latest news out of State is that Pack officials have met with John
Calipari, but that no deal has yet been struck, or at least has not been
acknowledged publicly. State
has apparently made a formal offer, but according to the Fayetteville paper,
it has not been accepted.
Caulton Tudor says of
course State should aim high, reflecting what Billy Packer said somewhat
when he said that anyone who wasn't competitive enough to want the challenge
shouldn't take on the job anyway.
And if you can hire a big name, by all means, why not?
Calipari would be a coup for State, and while he's an excellent recruiter,
his style also makes up for any talent gap. Think about what Pitino did at
Kentucky, when he took a bunch of scrappers and made them into a formidable
unit. The talent at State is better than that.
Herb Sendek's approach also seeks to overcome a gap in talent, but the
approaches are very different.
The argument Mike Gminski, among others, has put forth is that while State
has a tremendous tradition, the current reality is that it's not a great
program. And there is truth to that.
But the reality is that whoever succeeds at State - or anywhere - has to
overcome someone else's advantages. Certainly Coach K didn't have any big
breaks when he started, and Dean Smith was lucky to survive a few years at UNC
at a time when there was a strong desire to shut the program down entirely.
State is right to think big, and whoever takes the job should as well.
Incidentally, although the Boston Globe did attack UMass's graduation rate
when Calipari was there, the facts are somewhat different. Calipari has
done a better job of graduating players than we originally thought. In fact, we
hear he has done a better job than Sendek has done.
There are still a lot of odd things in his career, and we're not entirely
sold on him. But we don't think he's as awful as he appeared at first
The question now is if he will accept the offer. It would mean walking
away from Memphis and one of the great natural recruiting jobs in the
country. At Memphis, you can scout your next starting five and still make
it home for dinner. The talent available there is immense, and most of it
But the ACC has a lure too, and competing against Duke, UNC, Maryland, B.C.,
Wake, and Georgia Tech has to be strong, and with virtually everyone else coming
on, it's going to be an insanely good conference.
So: will he or won't he? We'll know soon.
Interesting point to ponder: though everyone will get excited should he come,
his record at Memphis is fairly similar to Sendek's record at State during the
same period. Sendek, however, has generally speaking performed better in
the postseason. Calipari did make it out of the Sweet 16 this season, but
lost promptly to UCLA.
Previously, his highlight at Memphis was winning the NIT.