Kentucky is off and running this year, taking a 3-1 record into a high-profile showdown against Gonzaga On Sunday. The Wildcats’ lone loss came at the hands of michigan state on Tuesday, but the hot start hasn’t stopped speculation about John Calipari’s future in Lexington.
USA Today writer Dan Wolken, who covered Calipari while he was the coach at Memphis, made quite a prediction about how much longer Calipari might have at Kentucky. The Wildcats, of course, were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the first round by No. 15 seed St. Peter’sbut have started fast this season as they try to avenge that loss.
Still, Wolken said March Madness success will be a big factor in determining Calipari’s future.
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“If the narrative sets in that he’s maybe a little outdated with some of the things he’s doing, he’s washed up, he doesn’t have the same juice he had in the program, it’s going to go downhill quick,” Wolken said on “The Gary Parrish Show” Friday. “I think if he doesn’t — I’ll put this prediction out here right now — if they don’t get to the Elite 8 this year, I think he’s got one more year left after this and then I think it’s over. ”
In addition to the 3-1 start, Kentucky is also seeing plenty of success on the recruiting trail. The Wildcats currently have the No. 1 class in the nation, according to the On3 Consensus Team Recruiting Ranking, led by four top-10 recruits. Center Aaron Bradshaw is the highest-rated player in the group, coming in as the No. 3 player in the nation, according to the On3 Consensusa complete and equally weighted industry-generated average that utilizes all four major recruiting media companies.
Dan Wolken: There’s a lot of pressure on John Calipari at Kentucky
However, Wolken said the pressure appears to be growing around Calipari. Although the loss to Michigan State isn’t a big reason why he’s concerned, he still thinks this year’s postseason will help make the future clearer.
“I’m not going to judge Kentucky or think less of Kentucky based on (the loss vs. Michigan State),” said Wolken. “But big picture, I do think there’s a lot of pressure on Calipari. I think the clock is ticking, I really do. They’ve got to be really good at the end of this year — they’ve got to advance far in the tournament — or else. I’m not saying he’s going to get fired, but the narrative is going to set in.
“And there’s already things going on there that are weird, like … he refuses now to go on Kentucky Sports Radio, Matt Jones’ show, which is the most listened to radio show ever in Kentucky. … Five years ago, wasn’t he on there all the time? He would do that show all the time because that’s how he would communicate to a significant part of the fanbase. So if he is now basically turning on guys who very much supported him heavily the first part of his tenure there, it shows you where his head is at right now. He does feel like he’s under siege.”