Will new deal keep Cal in Kentucky?

May, 5, 2010
5/05/10
10:59
AM ET
That's Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart's plan, anyway. Yesterday, in the wake of a report that John Calipari was interested in the Bulls job and "would listen to a pitch from management," Barnhart announced that he was beginning discussions on a new contract for Calipari that would, in Barnhart's words, keep Calipari in Kentucky for the rest of his career. Forget that whole grades thing: Big Blue Nation has found its coach, and it does not want him to leave.

Fortunately for Kentucky, Calipari denied interest in the Bulls job to Andy Katz early Tuesday, and he later tweeted to that effect:
Throughout my career I've been mentioned for other jobs. Now that I'm here u won't hear about other colleges because I've got the best job. Every year you will hear my named mentioned for NBA jobs because I coached in the league before. I'm very happy at Kentucky.

OK then. So, issue settled? Calipari and Barnhart work on a new contract -- if it's going to have the years and dollars to keep Calipari in Kentucky until he retires, it's going to be a mammoth deal -- get it signed, and get the NBA rumor mill away from the school for good. Calipari ends his career at Kentucky and that's that.

The problem is that his tweets didn't exactly say that. There's no real commitment there. Just a word of warning, dismissive but not definitive. (To be fair, they came before the word of a new deal; that could change everything.) Still, there's no guarantee a new contract would bind Calipari to the Wildcats for life. A new deal could make it more prohibitive to leave -- Barnhart could tie in a buyout clause stating Calipari would have to pay back a certain percentage of his deal if he left for the NBA, and in return Calipari gets another record-breaking paycheck -- but there's still the chance that Calipari could be interested in leaving. (For example, if a Memphis-esque situation came down the pike -- not saying it will, UK fans, so take it easy -- coaching in the NBA would probably seem a lot more fun than coaching at a program hamstrung by NCAA sanctions. For example.)

The bottom line is that even with a new contract, there will always be that worry in Barnhart and UK fans' mind. The best thing Big Blue Nation can do is enjoy him while he lasts. Don't worry, be happy, etc. Until something actually happens, everything else is just sideshow.

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