Cal jumps ship then de-commits

The following just appeared on the wire for Future Press International.

[Editor's note:  I just had to move this to the front page.  Who knows, maybe A Sea of Blue will become known as The Onion of the Big Blue Blogosphere. :-) ]

May 13, 2010

The bizarre world of college basketball got even weirder yesterday with the surprise turn of events that engulfed University of Kentucky mens basketball coach, John Calipari. The hastily scheduled press conference in Lexington, KY had the rumor mill running. The audience wasn't disappointed.

Calipari began the session with general statements about his dedication to the Kentucky program and the pride he felt with the accomplishments made during the last year. "We've taken Kentucky basketball back to it's rightful position atop the mountain," said Calipari. "We didn't hang a banner this last year, but we had an incredible successful year. The fans have been great and they were a big part of a memorable year."

Then Calipari reached into a gym bag, and pulled out a Chicago Bulls hat. "Sometimes we have to follow our dreams," he offered as he put the hat on. "I always tell my kids to follow their dreams. Well, I have dreams, too. So I've accepted the position of head coach for the Chicago Bulls."

The audience was stunned, but Calipari's family, seated next to him, began to applaud. His son, Brad, seemed stunned. Perhaps, he was worried about the scholarship offer he had to play for his father at Kentucky.

Calipari quickly brushed off questions and said that he would have more to say about details later, but that he needed to talk to lots of people and share his decision with them.

Calipari was seen talking on his cell phone for about 15 minutes with an extremely pained look. Friends later said that he had called Mitch Barnhart, the Athletic Director for the University of Kentucky to tell him of his decision.  During the conversation, Barnhart reportedly told Cal that while his decision made a few hundred people happy, it made millions unhappy.

Coach Cal, as he is affectionately known by his players and fans, then huddled in a corner with family and a few friends. His family seemed to be upset, and a contentious discussion was clearly taking place. The contract making Calipari the Bulls coach was never signed.

That was last night. Then today comes the announcement that Calipari has de-committed from the Chicago Bulls. The blogosphere is fully engaged in the story with claims of impropriety thrown at everyone involved. Keven Stelley, noted sports columnist, thinks that Barnhart may have gone over the line. "This was Cal's moment. It was his chance to celebrate," said Stelley. "But Barnhart didn't know when to quit. What he did may not have been illegal, but it smells bad. Real bad. And Barnhart looks kind of sleazy, too."

Defenders of Barnhart say that he has done nothing wrong. That he didn't do anything that most ADs in the country would do. According to an athletic director at another school who wished to remain anonymous, "Ah, heck. Barnhart just wants to keep his guy. I'd do whatever it took to get and keep the five star talent."

So, now what happens? Who knows? Is Cal going to keep his verbal commitment and head to Chicago? Or will he return to Kentucky? Or will he open up his recruitment entirely and start over again?

Stay tuned. Maybe there will be an announcement later this week. In the world of basketball coaching, this is the way the ball bounces.

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