Count Geoff Calkins and Charlie Pierce among those will not be rooting for the Kentucky Wildcats to take home the national championship trophy.
Calkins, a columnist for The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, wrote the following earlier this week:
Now that it's done, now that the NCAA Selection Committee has released its bracket, now that it's official that the Memphis Tigers will not be playing in the tournament this year, it's time that we, as a city of diverse people, come together to pull for one thing.
Kentucky, falling flat.
John Calipari, choking.
In the first round, if at all possible.
He later adds:
Calipari didn't just leave Memphis for a better job. He left for a better job and took the Memphis recruiting class with him. He wrote escape clauses into the players' letters of intent, he advised Memphis athletics director R.C. Johnson to keep quiet about the NCAA investigation, and then he used the star-studded recruiting class to land safely at Kentucky.
And the suck-up television analysts don't say anything about it. It's too messy, too unpleasant.
Pierce, a staff writer for the Boston Globe Magazine and a contributing writer for Esquire, is even tougher on Calipari in "The Sleaziest Coach in a Sleazy Game," a piece he penned for Slate.com.
Anyone who follows college basketball sooner or later develops a kind of ethical dementia. The sport is a perfect example of a functioning underground economy. Players have skills that CBS—to name only the most prominent parasite—values at something over $1 billion a year. Because this is not Soviet Russia, players find ways to get paid for these skills under the table, largely because a preposterous rulebook (and a feast of fat things called the NCAA) works diligently to prevent anyone from getting paid over the table. Since everybody involved in the sport has known this for decades, there's a lot of the old nudge-nudge, wink-wink going on ...
But even in this culture, which is pretty much what a dockside saloon in Singapore would be if it had shoe contracts and golf outings, John Calipari always has been notable for the baroque happenings that seem to surround his every move. Coaches who have barbered the rulebook like Edward Scissorhands look upon Calipari with a weird mixture of awe and disdain.
This may surprise you, but Kentucky fans who appear in the article's comments thread weren't terribly please with Mr. Pierce's observations.