Burch: Kentucky "Wanted To End The Conversation"

Sorry, UCLA. After signing a lifetime contract with Kentucky, John Calipari isn't going anywhere.

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
April 02, 2019 - 10:35 am
John Calipari Houston Kentucky NCAA Tournament

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John Calipari has signed a “lifetime contract” with Kentucky, and many in Big Blue Nation were not surprised. 

“This has been in the works for a while,” Big Blue Insider Radio’s Curtis Burch said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “The reports that came out that UCLA was really interested – he said he gets calls after every season. There were figures that UCLA had thrown at him. It’s probably just a thing where (Kentucky) wanted to end the conversation.”

Probably a smart thing to do for a coach that has reached seven Elite Eights and four Final Fours in 10 seasons.

“He’s been asked about it after every season, it feels like: Is this NBA job going to lure you away?” Burch said. “This year it was actually another college job, which was a slightly new wrinkle to this whole deal. But I think they wanted to, as best they can in coaching circles, kind of end the discussion and just make sure that everybody knows Calipari is going to finish his coaching career in Lexington.”

Coaching at Kentucky, of course, is not easy. The tradition is one of the most storied in college basketball, and the expectations are high, if not unrealistic, every season.

“There’s just a ton of pressure,” Burch said. “Every season, expectations are a chance for a Final Four and national championship – and that’s what he wants. That’s what he said his goal was every season: to be in the hunt every year. It’s utterly ridiculous, but the Final Four drought – it’s been a while.”

Indeed, Kentucky has not reached the Final Four since 2015 – and many fans aren’t happy about it.

“There’s a lunatic fringe in almost every fan base, and Kentucky is no exception,” Burch said. “The lunatic fringe is probably a little bit bigger in Kentucky because the fan base as a whole is so big. There’s a vocal minority of people who are very critical of him like a lot of coaches, and he has to deal with that. But the upside is the fact that there isn’t a ton of marketing he has to do. Kentucky kind of sells itself for the most part.”

It remains to be seen how long Calipari will remain at Kentucky, but he figures to steer the ship for the foreseeable future.

“He said he would retire at 60 and that he would never make it past 10 years at Kentucky – and he is going to surpass both those things going into next season,” Burch said, chuckling. “But that was initially when he took the job. He’s reset those expectations. Ten (more) years is a possibility. He continually says coaching at Kentucky is like dog years: every year is seven years. And so, if he goes 10 more seasons, that would put him at 140 years coaching. That’s a long tenure.”

Click below to listen to Burch’s interview in its entirety.