CBS Sports is currently running a series of articles to analyze the next steps for college basketball programs that currently employ Hall of Fame coaches.
On Wednesday, Gary Parish shared his thoughts on John Calipari’s future at Kentucky and potential replacements after he has moved on.
Upon reading the headline, one could easily assume that this is an effort to stir up rumors about Calipari’s departure. That is far from the case.
Parish actually discussed, at length, why he thinks Calipari will coach the Kentucky Wildcats for a long time. Part of that is due to Kentucky paying him so much money, which should not only keep Calipari coaching, but also prevent him from leaving for the NBA.
This season, and every season through 2024, he’s scheduled to make at least $8 million annually, which is more than almost every NBA franchise pays its coach. Combine that reality with the idea that Calipari would only ever leave Kentucky for a built-to-win situation in the NBA, and the odds of him getting an offer featuring the type of job and salary that would make him jump seem low. Consequently, I think he’ll ultimately retire at Kentucky.
Parish goes on to say it’s reasonable to think Calipari coaches at least until his contract is up in 2024 and he may even coach into his 70s.
Regardless of his opinion about the length of Calipari’s tenure, Parish still went on to name some potential replacements for Coach Cal. Here is his list:
- Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City Thunder
- Chris Holtman, Ohio State Buckeyes
- Shaka Smart, Texas Longhorns
- Eric Musselman, Nevada Wolf Pack
- Sean Miller, Arizona Wildcats
Of these possible suitors, he was most convinced that Billy Donovan and Shaka Smart could be actual candidates with little left to prove.
Donovan is a former UK assistant who has been pursued by Kentucky previously -- initially when Tubby Smith left Kentucky for Minnesota in March 2007. Ultimately, he decided to stay at Florida back then. But if the timing worked, and his NBA career stalled or slipped, it’s not hard to envision Donovan returning to college. And keep this in mind: Kentucky is one of the few places that could give Donovan a pay raise to leave the NBA.
If Smart continues to recruit well at Texas, and eventually wins big at Texas, he would be an obvious candidate for Kentucky or any other big job. And he’d have to seriously consider an offer from UK because A) it’s Kentucky, and B) the athletic director who hired him at Texas is no longer the athletic director at Texas.
All of the others on the list either have significant baggage or a lot to prove. And given Parish’s timeline of potentially another decade of Calipari at Kentucky, there is a chance the next Kentucky head coach is not even a mainstream name yet.
Are Kentucky fans ready to start thinking about the next guy in line? Or will it always be too soon for Calipari to leave his post?