Whenever I try to think of Conference USA without John Calipari, I can’t help but think of the rock band Journey without Steve Perry.
People still pay to see them play. But it’s not the same.
C-USA was built on basketball, on the great teams of Louisville and Cincinnati and DePaul and Marquette and Memphis and, yes, UAB.
Then came the Great Raid of 2005, when the Big East swooped in and cut out the heart of C-USA. It’s no secret Calipari wanted Memphis to go, too. He knew the handwriting was on the backboard, that without those basketball powers C-USA would lose its standing as a multi-bid major basketball power conference.
I have a feeling if Calipari could have taken Memphis with him to the Southeastern Conference on Wednesday, he would have.