I grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts. My dad taught at Umass. I attended games at the old Curry Hicks Cage where Dr. J once played. I travelled to Albany in ’96 when the John Calipari-led team was the top seed in the East for March Madness.
And yet…I agree with Charles Pierce writing in Granland about just how much Coach Cal is exactly what is wrong with college sports. He takes disgustingly immoral to a whole new level. And no one seems to care.
Calipari is sui generis in the history of basketball brigandage. He has taken two teams — UMass and Memphis — to the Final Four and, according to the official NCAA record books, neither one of those teams exists anymore. Their participation has been Vacated because it subsequently was revealed that (a) things were going on at UMass that made that program one small step away from being an actual whorehouse, and (b) there was some jiggery-pokery surrounding who actually took the SATs for Derrick Rose.
A lot of coaches cheat. A lot of coaches lose control of their programs, or don’t care to exercise it in the first place. But, in the history of the game, only one coach has had two Final Four teams taken down. This is a remarkable historical achievement. When Kentucky gets close to winning this year, I predict that nobody on television will bring this up, although I’ll buy a cookie for the first analyst who says, “What’s the over/under number on Vacated? I put it at eight months.”
–Grantland, “Top Five March Madness Predictions”