The UCLA Bruins opted to make a change to their basketball program by parting with former head coach Steve Alford during the 2018-19 season. In turn, the attention shifted to a few candidates, but none stood out more than Kentucky Wildcats leader John Calipari.
While Calipari’s coaching career began with Massachusetts in 1988, where he stayed for eight years, he took over the Memphis program in 2000 after a four-year stint in the NBA with the New Jersey Jets. Calipari remained with Memphis for nine years before accepting the job with the Wildcats in 2009. Over 10 seasons with Kentucky, he’s posted a 303-70 record with the team still currently in the 2019 NCAA tournament.
But when the rumors and rumblings began that Calipari could be a top target for the UCLA job, they heated up at the worst possible time – roughly 24 hours before Kentucky’s tournament opener.
Original Reports Linking Calipari to UCLA
The first news of any interest came from Tracy Pierson of 247Sports, who cited various sources stating that Calipari has “serious interest” in heading to UCLA.
There is a great deal of buzz in the college basketball world about Kentucky head coach John Calipari possibly being the next UCLA coach.
According to various sources, the Hall of Fame coach is showing what some have described as “serious interest” in coming to Westwood.
Pierson goes on to cite that Calipari has “always liked the UCLA job” and that he “seriously reciprocated” the interest from the school.
It’s known that Calipari has always liked the UCLA job, loving Los Angeles and the lifestyle.
UCLA, in doing its due diligence since firing Steve Alford on New Year’s Eve in December, has had time to kick the tires on all the big-named coaches in the game to gauge interest. Calipari was one who seriously reciprocated.
From here, social media ran wild with the rumors and rumblings. But at least for the time being, they had to be silenced thanks to Cal himself and his comments.
John Calipari Shuts Down UCLA Coaching Rumors
The Kentucky coach left little question about where his heart remains and sent out a tweet before his team’s game on Thursday, and the message was a simple yet strong one.
“Before I go to bed, let me just say this: I’m coaching at the Univ. of Kentucky. In my opinion, there is no better job in the world to coach basketball. My plan and my desire is to retire at Kentucky. I think the university feels the same as I do and we’ve talked openly about it.”
“Now let’s focus on this game tomorrow!” Calipari said in two tweets.
It’d be tough for UCLA to lure Calipari from the Wildcats, but not impossible more than likely. If the Bruins were to make a legitimate run at him, it’d cost them a pretty penny to do so. In USA TODAY’s breakdown of highest-paid college basketball coaches, Calipari has a huge edge in total pay over the entire field. Here’s a look at the top five in total pay (not just school pay).
- John Calipari: $9,276,643
- Mike Krzyzewski: $7,048,206
- Tom Izzo: $4,157,562
- Tony Bennett: $4,150,000
- Bill Self: $4,066,857
Time will tell how this situation plays out, but for the time being, it’s hard to buy into Calipari leaving town this offseason, but crazier things have happened.