BYU Cougars

Will Kentucky Lure A Big 12 Coach To Replace John Calipari?

Iowa State Cyclones men's basketball head coach T. J. Otzelberger greets Kansas State men's basketball head coach Jerome Tang (right) before the game in the Big-12 conference showdown of an NCAA college basketball at Hilton Coliseum on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, in Ames, Iowa.

Just when you thought college basketball’s coaching carousel had slowed, John Calipari came along and screwed it up by reportedly taking a job at Arkansas.

Perhaps this is revenge for Kentucky stealing Eddie Sutton all those years ago? Who knows?

Anyway, this could be an interesting development from a Big 12 perspective, only because you know the rumor mill is going to go wild.


Kentucky is a blue-blood job. It’s a high-pressure job. It’s a job only a few coaches are really built for.

The Wildcats will also look for the biggest name possible and will probably land it.

So who makes the most sense from the Big 12? Let’s break this down into three categories.

Who Kentucky Won’t Want

Eliminate the two new coaches — Oklahoma State’s Steve Lutz and West Virginia’s Darian DeVries. Both are good coaches but they’re not ready for that job yet. Kentucky won’t look at the two outgoing coaches either — Oklahoma’s Porter Moser and Texas’ Rodney Terry. If this was right after Moser took Loyola Chicago to the Final Four several years ago, he might have had a chance.

Count out Johnny Dawkins, who has led UCF to just one NCAA Tournament. Grant McCasland has just one year on the job at Texas Tech and I think that’s where he wants to be. Plus Kentucky won’t see him as the kind of ‘name’ coach it needs. For that matter, I think Kansas State fans can feel safe about Jerome Tang. I don’t see Kentucky trying to pry him away from Manhattan.

I’m curious about Jamie Dixon at TCU. He has a quality track record but I think in Kentucky’s eyes he would be viewed as a second-tier candidate for its job.


Want Him But Won’t Get Him

These are the coaches that will be on Kentucky’s short list but won’t get.

That starts with Kansas coach Bill Self, who has a lifetime contract and his own blue-blood fan base to deal with.

Houston’s Kelvin Sampson has the job he wants at this stage in his life and his son is his heir apparent.

I think Kentucky would love a coach like Baylor’s Scott Drew, but I’ll stick by what I said with the Louisville opening — I think Drew has the job he wants.


The Remaining Candidates

BYU’s Mark Pope is interesting because he’s a Kentucky alum. He captained the Wildcats’ 1996 national champions. He’s done good work at both Utah Valley and at BYU. He could be intriguing if Kentucky doesn’t get its first or second choices.

Same goes for Cincinnati’s Wes Miller. He doesn’t have the really big wins that Kentucky would be looking for. But hiring Miller would mean hiring a coach up the come-up that could have the chops to lead a program like this. It would also be seen as risky by boosters and fans.

Then there’s T.J. Otzelberger at Iowa State. Having serious Matt Campbell flashbacks? Probably. He’s here because he’s a legitimate candidate for the job, he’s had success and this is the kind of job that would certainly catch his attention.

In the end, I don’t think a sitting Big 12 head coach bolts for this job. It’s not because there aren’t quality candidates in the conference. I just think Kentucky will, ultimately, look elsewhere.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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