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Kentucky Lures Calipari As Next Head Coach

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The major news outlets are all runnin’ with it, and so will we. Memphis head basketball coach John Calipari will leave for the University of Kentucky, less than a week after UK tossed Billy Gillispie to the curb. The official announcement should be Wednesday, and it won’t be an April Fool’s joke.

Calipari brings a Final Four résumé (and national championship game experience, even) to Lexington — and perhaps his highly-rated recruits for next year. In return, Calipari will get enough money to take a luxury bath in dollar bills for the next eight years ($35 million overall, reportedly).

Calipari enters a storied basketball program that never quite warmed up to Gillispie and leaves behind a very successful program built up at Memphis. While the UK Wildcats lost in the NIT to Creighton in the second round, the Memphis Tigers reached the NCAA tournament this year as a 2-seed and made the national championship game last year as a 1-seed.

Whoever inherits the Memphis job will likely receive bloated expectations to remain a national powerhouse in the weak Conference USA. Said coach will likely come from a successful mid-major program, and that spot will be filled by a young up-and-comer, and so forth. Conversely, the expectations for Calipari will be stratospherically high as well. They’ll probably want him to win it all next year.

The Battle of Lexington and Concord was the site of the “shot heard ’round the world,” but that was Massachusetts. Kentucky’s version of Lexington fired the first bullet in the college basketball coaching carousel. So let the cascading coaching food chain begin!

Related: After this hire, Jay Skipworth wonders if college basketball needs a minority hiring rule similar to the NFL’s.

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