There has been some buzz about Kentucky head coach John Calipari becoming a top candidate for the vacant UCLA basketball head coach position, but how legitimate are these claims?
Since the UCLA basketball team parted ways with Steve Alford back on New Year’s Eve, Bruins fans have been making their wishlists as to who they would like to see take over as the head coach of the most storied program in the country.
Last month, reports emerged that Virginia’s Tony Bennett was at the top of the list, a list that included a who’s who of qualified, successful and proven coaches. The fact that a name like Bennet, among many others, is being considered shows that the UCLA Athletic Department wants to cast a wide net and not bumble the process as they did when they brought in Alford.
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With fans growing tired of mediocrity, UCLA wants to make a big splash with their next hire and put the Bruins back atop the college basketball world where they rightfully belong.
That seems to be the case with not just the list they have put together, but also with candidates that have not previously been named. One of those being Kentucky’s John Calipari.
Bruin Report Online, which likes to get a jump on stories like these, published a piece today that addresses those claims. “According to various sources, the Hall of Fame coach is showing what some have described as “serious interest” in coming to Westwood.”
Aside from trying to decipher if this is a credible claim, it gives UCLA fans a lot to think about. First off, is Calipari the right fit for UCLA? In the last few weeks, the majority of UCLA basketball fans have expressed displeasure every time the name Rick Pitino has been uttered due to the baggage he accumulated at Louisville. Though Calipari has baggage of his own, it is nothing compared to Pitino. Additionally, since he has been at Kentucky, Calipari has not had a single issue.
Secondly, if Calipari is a serious candidate who is reciprocating interest, this proves that UCLA is in fact still one of the top coaching destinations in the country. I would even go as far as to say that if he is hired, UCLA is the top coaching spot in the country. The only reason an elite coach will leave one blue blood for another is simply because the latter is the premier program in the country.
Third, this continues to show that UCLA is serious about resurrecting the basketball program. This is not another coaching search where the Bruins end up with some mid-major coach that had some success but is mostly unproven. This is a search that is swinging for the fences.
Just like the hiring of Chip Kelly with the football program, UCLA is again flexing their muscles and showing that they are, in fact, the ultimate destination for college coaches and athletes.
But with that being said, nothing is set in stone. Yet. Until it has been made official by the UCLA athletic department, if at all, this is still just buzzworthy banter.