John Calipari, fresh from workout (or sauna), speaks with media prior to Notre Dame road trip.
On Thursday, University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi announced she was leaving U of L to become the president of Penn State University. That same afternoon, Louisville school officials confirmed reports that athletics director Vince Tyra had also submitted his letter of resignation effective a day earlier.
Coincidence or not, the thought of Bendapudi and Tyra simultaneously deserting a sinking ship had to resonate within the minds and hearts of everyone in the Bluegrass. After all, who among us hasn’t been at least slightly amused or bemused concerning the ongoing shenanigans raging down I-64?
Regardless of reasons for the top brass leaving, one thing remains clear. It can’t be easy on your head basketball or football coaches when there’s so much instability at the top of the food chain. You feel bad for Chris Mack and Scott Satterfield—forever looking over your shoulder to see who’s wielding the axe.
Not so for Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari. Regardless of which school, the guy’s had stability at the top of the administrative level. Sure, current UK president Eli Capiluto succeeded Lee Todd just a year into the Calipari regime, but since that time, his president and athletics director have been rock solid in stature and scope.
“Well, everywhere I’ve been it’s been pretty consistent,” Calipari confirmed when asked directly about the situation. “Well, when I was at UMass, Michael Hooker left to take the North Carolina job. But that was late in our run. Memphis was pretty steady and here, so I wouldn’t know what it feels like to have to go through that not knowing stuff.”
And just when it looked like Coach Cal was ready to offer some heartfelt words of encouragement and empathy to his fellow coaching colleagues, his “coach speak” kicked in as he defused and demurred.
“But I’m not staying up (with that stuff),” he said with a dismissively sly grin. “Look, I barely watch a bunch of college games. If I’m home, I’m watching The Last Alaskans. That’s back on. Life Below Zero was great last night for the first show. Building Alaska is not bad. Off-the-grid stuff, which is probably where I’ll move when I’m done coaching. I’ll be off the grid somewhere in Alaska. You won’t even know I’m still alive.”
Dressed in a ratty, white-cotton, sweat-soaked T-shirt with a towel draped over his shoulder, it looked like Calipari was already halfway to Alaska in body and spirit. But all True Blue fans know that stability at the top of the current UK administration means lifetime job security for this head basketball coach.
While on the grid, that’s worth a heck of a lot.
Dr. John Huang is a columnist for Nolan Group Media and editor-in-chief of JustTheCats.com. He is the author of three books, CUT TO THE CHASE, KENTUCKY PASSION, and FROM THE RAFTERS OF RUPP. If you enjoy his writing, you can follow him on Twitter @KYHuangs.