The student news site of George Rogers Clark High School

Smoke Signals Student Media

The student news site of George Rogers Clark High School

Smoke Signals Student Media

The student news site of George Rogers Clark High School

Smoke Signals Student Media

Calipari and Kentucky are moving on

UK graphic

After 15 years, the John Calipari era in Kentucky has come to an end. 

John Calipari was hired in 2009 following a disastrous 2 years of Billy Gillispie. Before Kentucky, Calipari crushed the college basketball scene while coaching at UMass and Memphis. He was the perfect fit for Kentucky and he crushed it instantly. 

In Calipari’s first 3 years at Kentucky, he brought the program back to its former glory. He led the program to back to back SEC Championships in 2010 and 2011. In the NCAA tournament he earned 3 Elite Eights, 2 Final Fours, and a National Championship with a NCAA record 38 wins. 

In the 7 years to follow, Kentucky remained a strong program. Calipari coached Kentucky to 4 straight SEC Championships from 2015-2018, as well as 4 Elite Eights, 2 Final Fours, and a National Runner-up. In 2015, Kentucky won 38 straight games before falling to Wisconsin in the Final Four.

Kentucky was a force to be reckoned with, winning at all levels of the game. They were poised and ready to make another tourney push. Unfortunately, that tournament never came after Covid-19 forced a cancellation. This was the turning point. 

In the 4 years to follow, Kentucky has been a shell of its former self. The Cats have gone 1-4 in the SEC tournament. To make matters worse, Kentucky is 1-3 in the NCAA Tournament and flat out missed it in 2021. This includes embarrassing losses to 15 seeded St. Peters and 13 seeded Oakland. The past 4 years have been fail after fail after fail after fail. It was time for a change.

On April 9, John Calipari released a video announcing he is leaving Kentucky and joining Arkansas.

There are a few reasons for the departure. One reason stated by Calipari is he felt the program needed another voice and it was time to step away. Another reason being speculated is Calipari felt he had lost the support of fans and the boosters at Kentucky. Whatever the reason may be, he is gone and a new voice is needed. 

Kentucky asked around all over the basketball world. Candidates included Baylor’s Scott Drew, UConn’s Dan Hurley, and Alabama’s Nate Oats among others. Eventually, a decision was made.

On April 12, Kentucky announced the hiring of BYU Head Coach and former Kentucky player, Mark Pope. 

Pope was a team captain for Kentucky under Rick Pitino and won a National Championship in 1996. He is loved by the program and he loves it back.  

Pope led BYU to a pair of NCAA appearances, but failed to win a game either time.

Reactions have been mixed to the hiring. Some would rather still have Calipari. Some would rather we tried other options like Auburn’s Bruce Pearl or the NBA Chicago Bulls’ Billy Donavon. Some are more than happy with Mark Pope.

Kentucky is excited for a change and the potential to get back on top. Mark Pope has the charisma and personality to get fans on his side and back him up. He can lead us back to where we need to be. 

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About the Contributor
Ben Cantrell
Ben Cantrell, Sports Editor
If you are reading this, you are in the presence of greatness. This is Ben Cantrell. He is a junior here at GRC, and his favorite things to do are play sports, watch sports, and talk about sports. Who could guess that his favorite thing about GRC are the sports. One thing about Ben is he can not be scared by people. The only person who scares him is a person holding a snake. Besides that, he is very lighthearted and a fun person to be around. Ben is excited about his future in this well-respected program and knows he can make an impact (probably something to do with sports.)

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