John Calipari represents the very best or the very worst in his sport, depending on your point of view. And most people who follow the game have a point of view. Love him or loathe him, you cannot ignore John Calipari. He is the most interesting man in college basketball.
The guy who has led Kentucky to 36 wins without a loss this season fills the two greatest job criteria for a coach: He can recruit and he can coach. On top of that, his personality, his guile and his team have enlivened a lackluster college landscape that has been called “parched.” Calipari’s brass and bearing say, “Stay thirsty, my friends.”
He can stoke the intense flames of college hoop passion in Kentucky — highest TV ratings in the country, according to a recent survey — without getting consumed by them. He paints a bullseye on his own back, gathering the greatest talent and making the whole season a pass/fail test: It’s a national championship or a failure.