Posted on: March 31, 2009 1:11 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2009 1:19 pm

No dog, or 'Cat, in the fight but...

My thoughts on the Calipari-to-Kentucky business:

Coach Cal is a great coach going to a great program, so in that sense it's a good fit.  Calipari does, however, have a past with a few question marks (in terms of rules violations) and has a distinct personality that I'm not sure translates perfectly to UK.  The thing is, when you're a premier program your list of acceptable hires is short to begin with, so if you can agree to terms with a guy like Calipari you have to get it done.

What does it mean for Kentucky?

Honestly, it's difficult to say.  It should bring stability and a new approach, on and off the court.  It probably brings in some players Kentucky hadn't counted on that could go a long way toward getting right back in the tournament and doing some damage.  But part of all this depends on what it means for Memphis.

So, what does it mean for Memphis?

I have already seen comments about Memphis's likely descent back into the regular ranks of CUSA as early as next season.  I don't see that happening, to be honest.  I certainly think they will be hard-pressed to keep the conference win streak in tact with a new coach, but they are still an attractive destination for coaches and players.  The new hire they bring in will not have the track record of Calipari, but they certainly have the clout to pull off a great hire.  The real question is: how much of that fantastic recruiting class bolts?  That will help answer what this means for Kentucky as well.  If Memphis can manage to convince a significant part of that class to return, and get another CUSA title with some damage done in March, it's possible that they could come out if this while hardly mising a step.  If the class exits, en masse, to follow the coach...along with a current roster member or two...then the program could be in serious trouble, for the short term at least.

So, the burning question for both schools is: which players were coach-loyal, which were program-loyal, and whose minds can be changed?  For Memphis there's the additional caveat: what recruits might their new hire bring along?

Every year when this coaching caousel begins, I get bothered by programs' lack of loyalty to their coaches, and by what a departing coach can do to a program.  I don't understand the win-or-be-fired mentality at the college level, because frankly while we're educating kids we should be teaching them about sportsmanship rather than giving them a "winning is everything" attitude.  This whole SOP extends all the way to recreational leagues for eight-year-olds, and frankly is part of why this nation's economy did what it did. (I won't go into the details of why I feel this way, as this is a sports site and I would have to leave the realm of sports to adequately explain my reasoning.)  Aside from that, it's a real shame that when a coach departs it has to come with a significant loss of players as well...leaving a program potentially in shambles.  I understand that the decommitting rules are in place to protect the kids - a noble goal - but I think perhaps they should be revisited.  Better minds than I could perhaps find a more equitable way to change coaches.

Posted on: March 7, 2008 8:14 pm

An extrapolation on the CBS Bubble Watch

I recently read the CBS version of the bubble watch, (here) and I thought it was pretty well done.  Kudos to Brian De Los Sanntos for putting the whole thing together.  Based on what I saw there, I put together a "bottom up" elimination scheme, leaving behind the teams to make the field.  Since there are 5 teams from nontraditional powers worthy of autobids, if they win their conference tourneys each one would "add a slot" up to 20 of the 26 teams.  There are a bunch of games this weekend whose outcomes will narrow the field.

My first six out, to get the bubble teams down to 20, are as follows:

1. loser of Dayton - St. Joseph's.  The winner should be able to squeeze in with a good A 10 tournament run, but the loser is out.
2. Western Kentucky. After being swept by South Alabama and falling to third in the Sun Belt, they're done.
3. Southern Illinois. They blew their chance short of an MVC crown.
4. loser of Arizona-Oregon.  Arizona sports the number 1 SOS but if they lose to Oregon I don't see how they've done enough with it.  Oregon needs this game even more.
5. loser of Florida - Kentucky.  There might be room for both, but I doubt it.  Play-in game weeks ahead of schedule.
6. Syracuse or Villanova.  I don't think there's enough room in the BE tournament for two teams to put together the kinds of runs these teams each need.  They'd practically need to play for the title, and I don't see that happening.  If this weekend goes a certain way, they could face each other Wednesday night in the first round instead.

So, that would get it down to a group of 20 teams, assuming Butler, BYU, Drake, Memphis, and Xavier all cut down some nets.  But wait!  One by one they all lost their tournaments!  Oh no!  Then I think the following teams would be out:

7. Maryland or VT.  Much like the Big East tournament, the ACC only has room for one (at most) bubble-saving run.  I don't see two of the top seeds going down to these two teams.
8-12.  This is a near tie between, in no particular order:
Rhode Island.  Too many losses too fresh in the minds of the committee.
Whoever fared better out of Syracuse/Villanova.  Both of these teams need a good run, and it's possible even the better of the two doesn't cut it.
Arizona State. That loss to Oregon may have done them in if too many surprises happen in the conference tournaments.
UAB.  They'd better beat Memphis if they want in.
Ohio State.  Not impressed even after the win over Purdue.  Another team that had better surprise this weekend.

That gets us down to 15, actually 14 because it was hard to separate teams 8-12 on my list.  I would say that New Mexico and UNLV, in that order, had better avoid disappointments or they're in the next-most trouble.

So, the 15 in would then be: Massachusetts, Arkansas, West Virginia, Baylor, Kansas State, Texas A&M, Illinois State, Mississippi, winner of Dayton-St. Joseph's, Winner of Arizona-Oregon, winner of Florida-Kentucky, Virginia Tech (or Maryland, but my bet is on the Hokies), UNLV, New Mexico, and someone from that 8-12 mess above.

Now, that group doesn't necessarily have the best 15 resumes of the mess right now, but some of the teams with slightly better profiles at the moment will necessarily lose between now and Selection Sunday by virtue of head-to-head matchups.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com