Many may have already put Kentucky coach John Calipari in the list of ace coaches in America prior to Monday. Perhaps because of his bravado or the way he routinely pulls in the best one and done talent in college basketball, Coach Cal has stood out more than others.
However, prior to Monday’s 67-59 win over Kansas in the national championship game, Calipari was not deserving to be on the dais with college basketball’s top program leaders. Now he can join the ranks of Krzyzewski, Williams, Izzo, Boeheim, Calhoun, Pitino, Donovan, and Self.
Each of those individuals had titles under their belts. Now Calipari does too. The fact that he avoided pitfalls with his most talented team ever was something that absolutely needed to happen.
2012 could not be a repeat of 2008, when Calipari’s very skilled Memphis team lost to Self and the Jayhawks. Even the coach who weaved through stops at UMASS, Memphis, and a forgettable NBA tenure before reaching the zenith of college basketball knew how much this one meant to him going forward.
"I don't have to hear the drama. I can just coach now," Calipari said in the postgame press conference. "I don't have to worry. If you want to know the truth, it's almost like, 'Done. Let me move on.' "
Not only did Calipari silence his own critics, but also he eliminated a whole other argument with the win. Now, those who doubted if you could get championships recruiting players bound to leave for the Draft after their freshman seasons can doubt no more.
The main guys on this Kentucky roster are all first or second year players. Five of them will likely go in the first round of the NBA Draft. Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist might be the first two players selected.
As much premium as people put on coaching, talent ultimately wins out at the end of the day. No coach in America knows that better this morning than Calipari.
People still will try to criticize the Xs and Os of Calipari but it does not matter. There are even some doing so regarding last night’s performance, where he admittedly pulled his guys back in the second half and maybe did so too early trying to hold onto victory.
Critique will now only fall on deaf ears. That is what happens when you climb the mountaintop in college sports. Coaches become invincible and essentially living legends at their respective institutions.
When you collect the best talent in the country and win at the highest level with those groups, one does not need to be the best teacher and in-game manager. Calipari has been the best recruiter in the country for some time, but now he has the total package.