Since Mike Krzyzewski announced he will retire after this upcoming season, the internet has been ablaze with takes on what it will mean for the sport of college basketball. A common theme among national writers is that Kentucky, specifically John Calipari, is poised to benefit the most from Duke’s legendary coach stepping down. Yesterday, our own Aaron Torres made the case for the Cats to quickly fill the void thanks to Calipari’s thoughtful use of the transfer portal this spring and the potential boon from name, image, and likeness rights. CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander echoed all of those thoughts in a column entitled, “With Coach K’s retirement, John Calipari can become the face of the sport and dominate recruiting again.” There’s a lot of really good stuff in there; here’s a small sample.
Someone has to take the throne, and as competitive as Jay Wright, Tony Bennett and many other great coaches are, Calipari knows he’s about to become the face of college basketball. In order to keep that title he’ll have to win an ultra-high level deep into his 60s — the way Krzyzewski did.
You could argue the best thing to happen to the winter of Krzyzewski’s career was Calipari going to Kentucky. And now, as Calipari approaches his mid-60s, Krzyzewski’s retirement could afford him a similar benefit. With K’s window closing, another door opens for Calipari to storm through. Seldom has there ever been an opportunity that Cal didn’t take advantage of to maximum ends. It is again an opportunity to stake claim to a title he’s held, if not been defined by, since revitalizing Kentucky basketball: College Basketball’s Greatest Recruiter.
Last season showed us to be cautious with hopes and expectations, but it might have also served as the wakeup call Calipari needed to adapt once again. Just look at all he’s done in the past three months. Revamped the staff. Plugged holes with proven players. Reeled in a five-star guard. Add in the challenge of taking over as the face of college basketball and I like where this is going.