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John Calipari among most powerful college basketball figures

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According to college coaches, Calipari and Coach K are by far the most powerful in the sport.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In the latest installment of CBS’ Candid Coaches Series, Gary Parrish asked college basketball coaches to vote on who they think are the most powerful people in their sport and comment as to why they think that.

To no one’s surprise, John Calipari and Mike Krzyzewski were head and shoulders above anyone else. Here is the list:

  1. Mike Krzyzewski- 43.7%
  2. John Calipari- 20.4 %
  3. Jim Delany- 8.7%
  4. Bret Just- 6.8%
  5. Jay Bilas- 5.8%
  6. Adam Silver- 1.9%
  7. David Gavitt- 1.9%
  8. Rick Pitino- 1.9%
  9. William “World Wide Wes” Wesley- 1.9%

After Cal and K, nobody else really matters in the scheme of things, especially among the coaching ranks. Nationally, those two are the faces of college basketball; not Roy Williams, not Rick Pitino, not Bill Self, or Jim Boeheim. The other fan bases can be as mad as they want, but the fact is Cal and K are known worldwide.

Coach K has Team USA to thank for that while Cal has been college basketball’s most outspoken and trendsetting coach. Plus Cal has personal relationships with some of the biggest names in the NBA (players and coaches alike) and there is no one that can market himself or his program like Cal.

Here is what Cal’s peers say about him:

He's under 60, in the Hall of Fame and is recruiting the very, very best of the best. His name is floated for every NBA job out there. ... He's famous figure outside of just college basketball. People know him, and what really made it happen for him was the 30 for 30.

He's successful, a trendsetter, outspoken and polarizing. Even if you you don't follow college basketball, you know Coach Cal.

He's changed how people do things. He's changed the mindset of parents and of players. He's made everyone up their game in terms of facilities and doing everything first class and trying to be big time. He by far has the most power in college basketball. Even Coach K has changed what he does because of what Calipari's doing.

While I’m not going to argue Coach K’s spot at the top, I’m glad that someone pointed out the fact that K had to adjust to the way Calipari shifted the paradigm in college basketball. Before Cal did it, nobody was recruiting one-and-done players almost exclusively. Now Duke is almost a carbon-copy of what Calipari is doing at Kentucky. K also adopted the in-program NBA workouts that Cal ushered in; and now even Rick Pitino is hosting one this year for Louisville although I can’t imagine why.

Calipari is going to continue to be a trendsetter and now that the recruiting battles between him and K are starting to become more one-sided in favor of Duke, he’s going to have to pull something new out of his sleeve to continue to be on the cutting edge of college basketball.