Wave of the future
The news of Kentucky giving John Calipari a lifetime contract is an interesting talking point.
Let's consider the layers and the ripples.
First, I wondered this weekend — after another title-less spring — if there were small pockets of Big Blue Nation that were wondering if Coach Cal had peaked.
Coach Cal was the first to grab the one-and-done, even at Memphis. Now, several of the elite programs are embracing the one-and-doners and while UK gets its fair share of 5-stars, Duke and UNC and several others are swimming in that end of the pool too. Also, how will Cal's and UK's approach change when the one-and-done rules are changed by the NBA.
Second, UK's river of talent under Cal — or Honest John as Chas called him Monday — makes the question "Have the Cats underachieved in the last decade" not only fair but appropriate?
Cal is great. As an in-game bench guy, he's underrated in my opinion. But the results — considering his skills and the talent — have not been linear. More on that in a moment.
We are not among the group that believes, Alabama football or UK or UNC hoops will always be good because they are Bama or UK or UNC. Is is easier there? Yes.
But ask Mike Shula or Billy Gillespie or Matt Doherty if that job is an automatic ticket to success.
I think Cal has earned a lifetime contract. He's on the short list with Saban and Coach K and Roy and Izzo of guys that have earned that. Add Boeheim to that list too.
There is no more valuable person in sports than a dynamic and successful head college coach.
All of the professional sports have some measures in place that try to generate parity. Sure, the Popovichs and the Belichicks and the big spending of the Red Sox and the Yankees can lead to long-term success, but those are the outliers.
Popovich, while excellent, was in place when The Admiral got hurt and the Spurs were dreadful. That led to San Antonio winning the lottery and getting Timmy Duncan. Belichick, while excellent and deservingly among the all-timers, found a golden ticket in round 6 named Brady.
The great college coaches are game changers for an entire university — look at what Coach K and Saban have done for instance — and whatever they make, they are underpaid. Even if they underachieve at times.
But the environment, the expectations, the success and the pride and passion that successful and elite college programs can generate are unmatched in ripple effect in all of sports. The Miami Dolphins are going to make money regardless of who is coaching them or how many games they win. The University of Miami needs a dynamic football coach so that The U. can be The U. and football can make every other program better.
Giving Cal a lifetime deal is a smart move for UK, regardless if you think he should have more titles or not. He's a known entity and his decade of averaging 30-plus wins proves that.
And this will just be the first deal like this. In fact, here's betting when news broke, Alabama was calling Saban to see if he was interested in something similar.
College hoops essay
Is March Madness too mad?
Stick with me.
We love the tournament. Seriously, we love, Love, LOVE the tournament. We all do. It's great drama and great theater and has the great hook of cheap invested interest with brackets that offer the perfect extended wager that is not a season-long prop bet.
But for all the great things that the tournament is, it is arguably the worst way to determine a champion.
The randomness and finality of the tournament — the first and most meaningful one-and-done in the sport to be honest — mean that we crown the hottest team and not the best team this time of year in college basketball.
Ask Auburn, which likely would lose to UK seven or eight times out of 10 but was good enough on the day it matter.
Again, we love the tournament, and in no way I am saying that this thing is broken or in need of fixing. But. there's always a but. (And according to some, I am always a butt wait, strike that.)
Could the tournament be better with best-of-three series on that second weekend? Or at the Elite Eight round and to the end?
First, let's strike the "Well, what about the Masters" and the time frame question. The tournament could move up a week if needed.
Every other sport this side of football has best-of-blank series. College football's field is so small that it eliminates the randomness of March. The NFL has the biggest home-field advantage and the most conforming rules toward parity so the randomness is curtailed as much as possible.
Again, the tournament is not broken. Not close. Just a thought about potentially making it a better way to determine a champion.
Ah, Augusta. Nothing better. Seriously.
It's the best venue in all of sports. It's the best atmosphere — for all of it history, beauty, pressure, way fans are treated, you name it — in all of sports.
A true bucket list place for even a casual sports fan.
We are a week away from Masters week. And yes, we will have our ever popular Masterfully Mastering the Masters Masterpiece contest. Details to come.
First, according to this story from CBSsports.com golf writer Kyle Porter, this looks to be the smallest field since 1997, when some dude named Woods won his first major.
Next, speaking of Tiger, he is one of a baker's dozen of players Vegas lists at 25-to-1 or better to win the green jacket next week.
Here are the front-runners in Vegas' eyes:
> Rory McIlroy: 8-1
> Dustin Johnson: 10-1
> Justin Rose: 12-1
> Tiger Woods: 12-1
> Justin Thomas: 14-1
> Jon Rahm: 16-1
> Brooks Koepka: 18-1
> Rickie Fowler: 18-1
> Jordan Spieth: 20-1
> Tommy Fleetwood: 20-1
> Jason Day: 25-1
> Bubba Watson: 25-1
> Francesco Molinari: 25-1
It makes sense that Rory is the favorite. Dude is golfing his ball right now, and simply put, he and DJ are the two dudes on the planet — and this includes Tiger — who, if they are clicking, no one or no course has anything for them. Period. Cue Bill Paxton from Alien: "Game over man."
On that list, Rickie at 18-to-1 is an intriguing play. Dude always plays well. Same for Bubba at 25-to-1. Course sets up very well for both of those cats. And Molinari at 25-to-1 seems like a great price considering how that dude has responded in the biggest events of the last year.
This and that
— Speaking of contests, congrats to Mike R. for his Oregon-UNC entry in the First 1 Out, Last Double-Digit In contest. Email me at email@example.com so I can send you your prize.
— Dannnnnnnggggggg. Hixson right-hander Jack Julian was DEAL-ing on Monday. Julian, a MTSU signee, dropped a six-inning perfect game that featured 15 Ks — including the final 14 hitters he faced — against Red Bank on Monday. Egad, that is doing work. Kudos young fella. That's awesome sauce. Here's more from TFP prep ace Patrick MacCoon.
— This is some amazing content for WWE. Amazing.
— OK, here's news that former UTC assistant and current Missouri State head coach Kellie Harper is in play to be the next Lady Vols coach. I like Kellie and think she is a very good coach. This is not an endorsement or a vote against Harper. This is a statement that the days of needing to hire "within the family" are as dated as 8-tracks and BetaMax. Find the best fit who can re-energize one of the most storied programs in all of college sports. Period. Whether they played for Pat or went to Gonzaga.
— Tom Dundon, the owner of the Carolina Hurricanes and the dude pledged $250 million to the AAF, continues to mention shuttering the league if the NFL players union does not offer young players from the NFL practice squads. It seems like a strong-armed and somewhat nonsensical negotiating tactic — if that's all it is — since the NFL nor its players have a vested stake in the league. Here's some more.
— Here's TFP ace sports columnist Mark Wiedmer on Belmont coach Rick Byrd, who stepped down after 33 years. You know the drill. Weeds writes college hoops, we read Weeds' writings on college hoops.
True or false. It's Tuesday, after all.
True or false, Honest John Calipari deserves a lifetime deal from UK.
True or false, March Madness is a bad way to determine a champion.
True or false, Augusta National is the best venue in all of sports.
Feel free to offer a few if you are so inclined.
As for today, April 2, let's review.
Sir Alec Guinness would have been 105 today. Rest easy Obi Wan.
On this day in 1968, 2001 A Space Odyssey premiered. Wow.
In 1977 on this day, Fleetwood Mac's Rumors hit No. 1 and stayed there for 31 straight weeks. Kids ask your parents what an album is.
We had this discussion on Press Row on Monday and it applies today in the wake of Honest John getting a lifetime contract.
Rushmore of current men's basketball coaches. Coach K and Brother Roy are 1-2. Who gets the other two spots. Go.