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Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Calipari being treated unfairly

By Dick Vitale
ESPN.com

I am tired of the John Calipari bashing.

It seems like there are columns and radio talk show hosts firing away against the new Kentucky coach because of the NCAA's investigation into his former school, Memphis.

For those bashing the coach, take a break! How guilty is this guy? Do you really think he went out of his way to make sure someone took an SAT for Derrick Rose? Do you think he made sure an agent laid cash on Marcus Camby at Massachusetts?

This guy has been bashed and bashed, and in every case he has been cleared of involvement by NCAA investigators. Isn't that enough?

The answer is no for those that have a personal agenda. I feel there are some envious people, jealous of his success. Remember, he did not come up in a pedigree situation.

When you are talking about Calipari's former employers, Massachusetts and Memphis, he paid his dues and busted his butt. He worked so hard, playing games at all hours to get exposure for his programs.

Let's face reality ... they did not have the ammunition that Kentucky has ... big blue is one of the Rolls Royce programs in America. Just look at their practice facility; it is like a Taj Mahal. I love the passion of those fans in bluegrass country!

There is nobody else that could have done the job that he did with the Minutemen. Just look at the program before he arrived at Curry Hicks Cage. He was a Frank Lloyd Wright, an architect who build a program into prominence. His intensity, emotion, passion and ability to recruit stand out. He communicates exceptionally well with the modern day athlete.

Calipari has that salesmanship about him. He is one of the few coaches who can handle the pressure of that environment in Lexington. A guy like Rick Pitino did, and he could have won three championships in a row with a little break. Pitino is a future Hall of Famer who would admit now that he should never have left Kentucky for the NBA.

Calipari, like Pitino, has that magical personality to sell the Wildcat program. Unfortunately he has dealt with other issues prior to his first game in Lexington. It has already been a turbulent pre-season as he prepares for the 2009-10 campaign, and the bashers have had a field day.

I understand that coaches have to be accountable for the actions he is involved in. In this instance, he was not involved.

Enough is enough.

Let's give the guy some due. I know there are people who will scream if the NCAA infractions committee says Memphis has to take down that Final Four banner because of the Rose situation. People will say it is Calipari's fault.

The coach is guilty of one thing ... convincing talented players to perform at the schools he represents. These are players other people would have died to have.

I know I am going off, but I have been reading so many articles by people taking shots. I don't feel they are fair.