There are very few constant-pressure-cooker jobs in the world of sports. Two of the most intense ones are in the Bronx, N.Y., and Lexington, Ky. The leader of the New York Yankees has to face the media and all the tabloids, on a regular basis, while getting scrutinized for every move he makes. It's a difficult challenge.
In college hoops, it takes a special person to run the Kentucky Wildcats' program in front of Big Blue Nation. Kentucky fans expect nothing less than a consistent winner and anything less is a nightmare.
When you look at the Yankees and the Wildcats, both have the perfect men in place leading the way. Joe Girardi and John Calipari both fit to perfection what those jobs are all about.
Not many can handle the pressure cooker that those jobs create. There are only a select few who can get the job done in those situations. I felt that Rick Pitino was an ideal choice when he led the Wildcats. He has a marvelous way of dealing with people. In the mid-1990s, he won a national championship and might have won another if Derek Anderson was not injured. Tubby Smith finished it off in 1998 when he won the title after replacing Pitino when he went to the NBA to coach the Celtics. Pitino will tell you that leaving Lexington was a big-time mistake.
I know that people will say that Calipari and Girardi are paid well to do the job, but consider that every day, they wake up and face pressure as their teams must perform at the highest level. Anything less and they would be ripped from top to bottom. They have to dot every "i" and cross every "t" under the microscope that constantly hovers over them.
It takes a special person to handle this kind of intensity. You need a radiant personality and a will to take the pressure head-on.
Girardi has done a super job as Joe Torre's successor. And Calipari has been marvelous; just ask the people in Big Blue Nation, baby!