Grading John Calipari’s transfer to Arkansas for Razorbacks and Kentucky


John Calipari goes to the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Kentucky Wildcats are out there for a brand new males’s basketball head coach, and the school basketball world has been shaken to its core lower than 24 hours earlier than the nationwide championship sport between UConn and Purdue.

The Calipari bombshell dropped on late Sunday night time with a number of reviews confirming the legendary head coach is sure for Arkansas. The Arkansas job got here open earlier this week when Eric Musselman accepted the highest job at USC. The USC job grew to become open when Andy Enfield went to SMU after the varsity fired Rob Lanier. The teaching carrousel is all the time spinning in faculty basketball, and that is essentially the most explosive cycle but with arguably essentially the most excessive profile job within the sport instantly changing into obtainable.

Calipari was below immense strain after Kentucky was upset within the first spherical of the 2024 NCAA match by No. 14 seed Oakland. Below Calipari’s watch, the Wildcats had not been out of the primary weekend of the match since 2019. Whereas this system was nonetheless excellent within the common season, there was a robust push to fireside Calipari after the Oakland loss inside the Wildcats fanbase. As an alternative, Kentucky gave coach Cal a vote of confidence, however clearly he wasn’t going to have a protracted leash.

Now the 65-year-old Calipari goes to Arkansas in essentially the most beautiful piece of faculty basketball teaching information in years. Kentucky is dropping a head coach that led them to 4 Ultimate 4 berths and a 2012 nationwide championship. There are such a lot of layers to this transfer. To begin to unpeel them, let’s grade it from each measurement.

Arkansas’ grade for John Calipari rent

Arkansas hoops was in peril of slipping into one other darkish interval after Musselman bolted for southern California. That gained’t occur with Calipari in cost.

The Razorbacks have a proud custom that peaked with Nolan Richardson main this system to 3 Ultimate 4 berths and one nationwide championship within the ‘90s. The guaranteeing years have been tough earlier than Musselman got here alongside and powered the crew to 2 Elite Eight journeys and one Candy 16 look from 2021-2023. Arkansas had a down yr this season lacking the match, and Musselman bolted.

Arkansas tried to rent Chris Beard from Ole Miss and Jerome Tang from Kansas State, however struck out. It was some uninspiring choices, doubtlessly headlined by Chris Jans at Mississippi State. As an alternative, Arkansas is breaking the financial institution and swinging for the fences with Calipari. This program instantly turns into must-see TV.

Calipari is the best recruiter of his era. The record of future NBA stars who performed for him is everlasting, from Anthony Davis to Karl-Anthony Cities to Devin Booker to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to Tyrese Maxey. We may go on all day. Calipari had one other loaded class coming in at Kentucky, led by five-stars Boogie Fland and Jayden Quaintance. Will his 2024 class comply with him to Arkansas? That is still to be seen, however the Razorbacks know they’re getting an elite recruiter both approach.

For all of Calipari’s faults as an in-game coach, there’s nobody higher at constructing a star-studded roster. Arkansas immediately turns into an exhilarating program. Whereas Calipari must get to work rebuilding the roster, there’s nobody higher at doing that than him.

This can be a house run rent. Sure, his current early exits within the NCAA match have been extraordinarily irritating, however few coaches are higher at constructing a constant winner. The place Calipari goes, expertise has all the time adopted. Now will probably be coming to Fayetteville. Calipari gained’t have too a few years left in teaching at 65 years previous, however he nonetheless has sufficient battle to get Arkansas to the highest of the SEC and past a couple of extra occasions.

Grade: A

Grading Calipari’s exit for Kentucky

Is that this a catastrophe for Kentucky? It’ll after all all rely on who they land. That’s one other article for an additional day.

It actually felt like firing Calipari was the fitting transfer for Kentucky after the loss to Oakland. The requirements at Kentucky are simply too excessive to lose to groups like No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s and to Oakland within the match. There was just one drawback: the $33 million buyout owed to Cal if he was fired. Arkansas solved that drawback for Kentucky by hiring him away.

Kentucky has gone by means of a tough stretch earlier than, however by no means for too lengthy. Calipari instantly reinvigorated this system within the wake of the failed Billy Gillispie period, however the strain for a deep match run was going to be unbearably heavy subsequent season. This looks like the right time for a divorce.

Kentucky can clearly do far worse than Calipari. The Wildcats may very well be a down yr subsequent season until they hit a house run with this rent. It gained’t be straightforward. The fact is subsequent season was shaping as much as be an unenjoyable yr for Kentucky even with one other class of five-stars coming in. The timing is correct for everybody with this break up. We’ll know extra as soon as Kentucky hires his alternative.

Kentucky grade: B+