Bashing Southeastern Conference basketball has been easy fodder this season for pundits. The young league provided critics all kinds of ammunition, starting with its next-to-nothing impact in the NCAA Tournament.
Suddenly, the arrow might be back pointing up. That’s how much the SEC would benefit with the game-changing hire of Kentucky possibly luring John Calipari away from Memphis. This won’t elevate a football-crazy league to the hoops stature of a Big East or an ACC, but it’s a needed jolt for the conference during this downtime.
Calipari would bring Kentucky the kind of instant credibility that it lost under Billy Gillispie. Not only does Calipari have more NCAA wins (25) than any other SEC coach, he provides a villain element that makes him a fan attraction in every arena that he plays.
Remember how SEC crowds reveled at the possibility of beating Rick Pitino-coached Kentucky teams in their building? The hostility directed at Calipari bringing Big Blue into any enemy house would be equally palpable.
He’s a more polished version of Bruce Pearl, the vocal Tennessee coach who wears ugly orange blazers and isn’t afraid to go shirtless in public. A guy like Calipari, who fancies himself as anti-establishment, going to Kentucky at this time would be a perfect fit for the Wildcats and the SEC.