It has been confirmed that John Calipari did show interest in becoming the next UCLA basketball head coach. Unfortunately for the Bruins, he is staying in Kentucky and the Bruins now have to look elsewhere for a new head coach.
The rumors have been confirmed. The UCLA basketball team almost lured Kentucky’s John Calipari to Westwood.
In an article by The Athletic, Seth Davis stated that a source close to the situation had confirmed that UCLA not only talked with Calipari, but they made a very lucrative offer which was in the ballpark of $48 million for six years.
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Apparently, Kentucky did not think that UCLA would put a serious offer on the table which then prompted the UK athletic department to respond by giving Calipari a lifetime contract, closing the door on the Calipari fantasy with UCLA.
With another option off the board, the UCLA AD is now forced to look elsewhere. On Monday, it was reported by Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times that five other candidates are in the mix, with UCLA focusing their efforts on two frontrunners: Texas Christian’s Jamie Dixon and Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin.
Dixon is a disciple of former UCLA head coach Ben Howland who coached the team from 2003-2013. Currently, Dixon is in his third year at TCU with a 67-40 (.626) record. Dixon’s overall record, which includes his time at Pittsburgh, is 395-163 (.708). He is currently in the midst of an NIT run. When asked about being attached to the search, Dixon stated, “I don’t talk about rumors, speculation … no part of it. I don’t think it’s good for anyone involved. I stay consistent in that regard.”
Cronin has been the coach of Cincinnati since 2006 and has an overall record of 296-148 (.670). Cincinnati just had their ninth consecutive NCAA appearance, but their journey was quickly ended in the first round. In the last two years, Cincinnati has beaten UCLA handily as the two teams met for a home-and-home series. Back in December, the Bearcats handed the Bruins a 93-64 loss, giving former head coach Steve Alford one of the worst losses of his tenure.
If both of these candidates fall through then the backup options are said to be Shaka Smart (Texas), Randy Bennett (St. Mary’s) and former Bruin standout, Earl Watson (formerly of the Phoenix Suns.