Friday, May 29, 2009

Pack: Better off without Calipari?

The events of the past three weeks demonstrate why N.C. State fans should be disappointed they didn’t get John Calipari as their coach.

They also demonstrate why fans should be glad Calipari didn’t come to N.C. State in 2006, when the school hired Sidney Lowe to replace Herb Sendek.

After leaving Memphis to coach Kentucky, Calipari put the Wildcats back in the national headlines. Securing a commitment from extraordinary Raleigh Word of God Academy point guard John Wall earlier this month cemented a recruiting class that analyst Dave Telep said has a chance to be remembered as one of the best ever.

Immediately, Kentucky has been pegged as a favorite to get to its first Final Four since 1998. But this week damaging news has emerged about the program Calipari left behind.

According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the NCAA is requiring Memphis to appear before the infractions committee June 6 to answer charges of major violations. Reports say former guard Derrick Rose is accused of knowing fraudulence or misconduct on his SAT. If true, that could force Memphis to vacate its 38 wins and trip to the NCAA title game in 2007-08.

An associate of a player also is charged with not paying for some of his trips aboard the team charter plane to road games. Kentucky fans supposedly are reassuring themselves with the fact that Calipari is not named in the probe.

But this could be the second Final Four trip a Calipari-coached team has vacated. An agent scandal involving player Marcus Camby voided Massachusetts’ trip to the 1996 national semifinals.

Three years ago, Calipari turned down an offer from N.C. State and accepted a contract extension at Memphis. The Wolfpack instead hired Sidney Lowe, who had no college coaching experience and has yet to direct N.C. State to the NCAA Tournament in three seasons.

Unlike Calipari, who has been an instant recruiting sensation at Kentucky, Lowe got off to a slow start as he learned the recruiting landscape with the Wolfpack. But Lowe has signed his deepest and most complete class yet heading into 2009-10, and doesn’t have major NCAA violations as part of his legacy.

Under Lowe, N.C. State posted the highest Academic Progress Rate of any school in the ACC this spring. That’s in part because Lowe did an admirable job keeping Sendek’s former players in the program proceeding toward graduation.

At Kentucky, Calipari is at least three players over the NCAA limit of 13 scholarships for next season, meaning some of the players he inherited from Billy Gillispie are unlikely to return.

No doubt, Calipari will bring a lot of wins and national attention to the Wildcats. But the scandal that seems to follow him might not be worth it.

N.C. State might be better off without him despite Lowe’s shaky start in the won-loss column.

- Ken Tysiac


Valvano_cheated said...

Thanks for the best laugh I have had in a long time. Why would ANY coach consider that dead zone in Raleigh to coach at? That team sucks. They fired the best coach they ever had outside Coach Case a few years ago, and now they want another high profile person to step in? LOLOLOLOL

Anonymous said...

Hate, hate, hate...Obviously somebody did. Lowe is our coach and long been a member of the Wolfpack family. Kids graduating, fans excited, progressing his recruiting skills, and NOT needing to bend/break the rules to do it. Fear the blazer dukees, tarholes and weacons. Our return to the top is coming.

Anonymous said...

NC State has expectations that are WAY too high. They are always going to run a distant 4th behind Duke, UNC and Wake Forest. If their fans ever thought for a minute that Calipari was seriously considering that move, they need a reality check. One great season under Valvano doesn't pull you guys out of the basement.