Is John Calipari Still Leaving Kentucky?

The story revolving around John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats basketball program is a bit strange at this point in the process. KSR (Kentucky Sports Radio) reported Tuesday morning that John Calipari has still not told Kentucky personally that he is leaving for the Arkansas job. Until that happens (or if it happens), UK cannot move forward with a coaching search.

KSR also revealed a bit of a coaching tier list. Kentucky plans on reportedly reaching out to the likes of Dan Hurley (UConn), Billy Donovan (Chicago Bulls), and Scott Drew (Baylor). Tier 2 candidates include Sean Miller (Xavier), Shaka Smart (Marquette), and Chris Beard (Ole Miss). News trickled out over the weekend that a billionaire donor supporting Arkansas was aiming to broker a deal with Calipari to leave his pressure-filled job in Lexington for a bit of a reprieve in Fayetteville.

Reports started flying out, insisting that Calipari was indeed taking the job. When a reporter caught Calipari walking his dog out in his neighborhood, he refused to comment on the situation. Of the candidates, Drew probably makes the most sense on the surface.

With a reported buyout of only $4 million, it’s a deal Kentucky can swing. Hurley most certainly isn’t leaving UConn, and Donovan probably isn’t leaving the convoluted land of College Basketball when he has a comfy NBA job in a major city. The expectations in Lexington are almost too high. As we saw with Calipari, once you reach the mountain top, the only way to go from there is down.

Despite churning out NBA players every single year, his teams have been quite mediocre because of a lack of success in the NCAA Tournament. If UK does move on from Calipari, the new coach will have to navigate these waters realizing that the pressure can be a warm embrace…only if you’re winning.