John Clay

Ten predictions for John Calipari’s second decade as UK basketball coach

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As perhaps you’ve heard, John Calipari has been the Kentucky basketball coach for an entire decade.

He begins season 11, the 2019-20 season, with another stacked roster and a lifetime contract, though he jokes that if he starts losing games he will have a very short life. And he’s not kidding.

But let’s say for the sake of argument — and the purposes of this column — he sticks around as Kentucky coach for another decade. (At least.) So, for the sake of argument — and the purposes of this column — here are 10 predictions for what will happen during Cal’s second decade as the commander in chief of Kentucky basketball.

1. Calipari will win another national title. How could he not? The coach is always in position, always contending, knocking on that Final Four door, thanks to both his recruiting and coaching skills. It stands to reason then that if he’s done it once, he can do it again, which would make him the only coach besides Adolph Rupp to win multiple national titles at Kentucky. What is hard to imagine is Calipari coaching the Cats for 20 years with just one title. Defies the law of averages.

2. Pro Day will expand to Pro Week. Calipari was the first coach to stage his own preseason combine for NBA scouts and the SEC Network. Others have followed, the copycats. So surely Cal will have to expand the idea from one day to a full week, complete with Wunderlic scores. You heard it here first.

3. In Calipari’s next contract, the coach will demand that an athletics department employee be designated to take his trash cans up from the curb in front of his home so wife Ellen will stop trying to embarrass him on her now wildly popular Instagram page. She is sure to find other ways to embarrass him, however. Surely there are endless possibilities.

4. Brad Calipari will become an assistant coach under his father. This seems inevitable what with Calipari’s son, now at Detroit Mercy, professing the desire to go into coaching once his college playing career is complete. Could one day a Calipari be succeeded by a Calipari as UK coach? And what would the Calipari daughters think of this?

5. Calipari will find a way to best exploit whatever NCAA rule change may be coming down the pike, starting with California’s “Fair Pay to Play Act” through the change that allows high school stars to enter the NBA Draft. Cal lives to stay one step ahead of the pack.

6. Calipari will never again have another player like Anthony Davis. Oh, Cal is sure to recruit more great players. There will be more lottery picks, future pros, and NBA All-Stars. But there will never be another one quite like AD. Face it, he was/is just that good.

7. Kentucky will continue to play teams that should have won the last game in which they lost. This will continue to be a Calipari pregame press conference staple with the coach saying that “Team X had Team Y beaten” last time out, though Team X somehow lost to Team Y by 20-or-more points.

8. The rivalry with Louisville will return to its previous stature when first Denny Crum and then Rick Pitino were the Cardinals coaches. This will have little to do with Calipari, and much to do with Chris Mack, who in just his second year is making U of L Athletics Director Vince Tyra look like a genius.

9. Speaking of Pitino, Calipari will finally convince the former UK coach to return to Rupp Arena where Calipari will have convinced the Big Blue fan base to afford Ricky P a warm welcome. Time heals all wounds. Though nominated, Cal will not win the Nobel Peace Prize, however.

10. Kentucky will still not play Indiana. Dick Vitale will tweet. Possible scenarios will be discussed. But the Cats and Hoosiers will continue to go their separate ways as long as Calipari is the Kentucky coach. Not going to happen.


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John Clay is a sports columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader. A native of Central Kentucky, he covered UK football from 1987 until being named sports columnist in 2000. He has covered 20 Final Fours and 37 consecutive Kentucky Derbys.
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