I originally wrote this as a response to posts on the Memphis Commercial Appeal's website. You can see the original here.
Right off the bat, I would like to apologize for some of the comments and name-calling that I have seen from some UK fans. I hope that you take that more as the attitude of people who spend too much time on the internet (regardless of allegiances) than of most Kentucky fans.
That being said, I am amazed at the change I have seen in the posts here-especially from those who are calling out Coach Cal on his hypocrisy, allegiances, maturity, and "classiness." On this post alone, I've seen people express hatred toward him (the same people who were talking about how much he meant to them PERSONALLY, as well as the community, only 2 days ago), create complex metaphors for each others' stupidity, and even wait for each other at bars to pick a fight. It actually makes me think about retracting my earlier apology for other UK fans.
The truth of the matter is that Calipari followed his dream. It may be hard to understand or accept, but that's the way it is. Sources have been quoted as saying he was offered close to $7 MIL to stay in Memphis, but as he said- it isn't about money. Someone on this board put it best when they said what hurt the most is that he wanted to be somewhere else more than he wanted to be in Memphis. Being left because of someone's character flaw (i.e. greed) is much easier to deal with than just not being wanted anymore- just ask anyone who has been left by a partner they truly cared about. But, just as in relationships, if you really cared about them at all then you will forgive them and wish for their best interests and happiness in the future. If your response is only anger and seeking revenge, then you were only in it for your own benefit to begin with.
As to the accusations that he is raping/gutting the program, it is true that he is leaving much less than what he had coming next year. But that's just it- HE had it coming to Memphis next year. Without him, the promise of 2010 would never have been. He's not taking anything with him that he didn't bring with him in the first place. As for the money used for recruiting, those players were still recruited to see and experience what the University of Memphis had to offer, and are still welcome to attend for the experience that is there. He was talking about Beale St, Graceland, barbecue, Sun Studios, and blues; not My Old Kentucky Home, thoroughbreds, bourbon, Ashley Judd (jk), and bluegrass. That which is Memphis is Memphis, with or without him. If the school and community can't stand on their own, then there needs to be a long look taken to see why that is. Let's be frank. Memphis has a reputation as one of the most racially divided, poor, violent, dangerous, corrupt, and unkempt cities in the US. I don't say these things to be hurtful, but that is the REPUTATION (deserved or not) that exists. I will say from my stays there (I spent a total of about 4 months there during my officer recruitment days and grew up about 3 hours away) and from high school friends who have lived there, Memphis does have a lot to offer and can be endearing at times. I am a HUGE blues fan and love barbecue more than I should and have had some great times in Memphis. I will also say that it is the ONLY city I've ever been regularly nervous about my personal safety just walking down the street (despite living in some less-than-desirable parts of Chicago over the past 5 years, and a few weeks in Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv). I have to wonder if you weren't TOO dependent on Calipari to try to fix things rather than taking on some responsibilities to fix things on your own.
Despite the "redneck" comments I've seen, Lexington has been ranked as the "10th Most Educated City in America" by the US census bureau, "5th Best Place for Business and Careers" by Forbes magazine, has a median income of $39,318, has immaculate city streets, and is surrounded by pristine half-BILLION dollar horse farms with fields that look better than most country-club golf greens.
As for the comments regarding Kentucky fans and the "running off" of coaches, most of it is media hype. Rupp retired. Joe B. Hall finished his career at UK as well. Sutton...well, we all know. I don't think anyone is arguing Kentucky should have kept him after that mess. Pitino was the savior and left to save the "Roman Empire" of the NBA, the Celtics, after 9 glorious years (it took him 6 years to get a championship, and we didn't run him off). Tubby got a Championship and we gave him 8 more years to get us back to the Final Four. When he realized he wasn't going to be able to deliver, he left of his own accord. Gillispie's indescretions (both on and off the court) have been EXTREMELY under-publicized and well hidden to save face. We don't expect to win it all every year. Heck, we don't expect it every 5. But we do expect to be a part of the national discussion every year. As your own Laird said, "To my generation, its kentucky. To his generation, its KENTUCKY." It is unacceptable for an entire generation to see us as just another school in a BCS conference. We have 7 National Championships and the most wins of all time, for goodness sake! Our tradition deserves to at least be recognized by this generation.
The Italian thing? Anyone not from Memphis would have no clue that there was an Italian population there and it would not be unheard of for him to think it would be a problem before he came- it comes with the city's reputation.
I understand that it hurts and I feel for you true Tiger fans. But I don't think you can blame Calipari or say he in any way acted out of line in this situation or intentionally mislead anyone. Assistant coaches almost always follow head coaches, practically every LOI in the nation contains a release clause for coaching changes, he never promised to retire at UofM, and he stuck with a school in a mid-major conference in a city with self-acknowledged social, financial, and security issues despite the calling of bigger names in bigger BCS conferences for 9 years. He only left for the biggest of big names- his "dream job." Love them or hate them, you true hoops fans (as differentiated from those who only follow the local team) know what the name "Kentucky" means. Surely you can understand the lore that goes along with this choice. Basketball has developed too fully and become too global to develop school names to that level anymore. The window of opportunity to build a Kentucky, North Carolina, UCLA, Kansas, or Duke has passed- and Calipari knows that. Sure, there may never be a John Calipari Fieldhouse, but the Wildcats very well may play on Calipari Court in Rupp Arena someday. That is the closest that any coach can ever achieve anymore- and he has an entire state praying that he can put his name on that long-storied hardwood in the house that Rupp built.