THE CALIPARI CONTRACT EXTENSION — More money, more pressure. Rick Bozich of the Courier-Journal writes: “Money will buy you headlines, such as the ones that the University of Kentucky stirred Monday by agreeing on an eight-year, $36.5 million contract with John Calipari. You’ll fly on more private planes, sign more recruits with five stars attached to their resumes and play in a Ritz-Carlton practice facility. You’ll have advantage after advantage after advantage. Then March will arrive – and Morehead State will outplay the University of Louisville and its $3 million-plus coach, VCU will thump Kansas and its $3 million-plus coach and Butler will outlast Florida and its $3 million-plus coach. It happens – and it’s going to keep happening.”
COLLEGE BASKETBALL’S MOST OVERPAID COACHES — Jason King of Yahoo Sports gives his list of the sport’s luckiest coaches in terms of dollar signs. Ex-UK guard and current Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford makes the list. Jason writes: “The former Kentucky guard is making $1.8 million per year in Stillwater, where he recently concluded his third season with a second-round loss in the NIT. Oklahoma State made the NCAA tournament the previous two seasons under Ford but failed to advance past the first weekend. From 2005-08 Ford was the coach at UMass, where he failed to lead one of his teams to the Big Dance. So tell me: Does two NCAA tournament trips in six seasons justify $1.8 million? I don’t think so either.”
THE COVETED ANDRE DRUMMOND — The star prospect won’t join the college ranks early, after all. Andy Katz of espn.com writes: “There had been plenty of chatter about the possibility that Drummond could be ready for the Huskies in the fall, but that point is moot. He hasn’t committed to UConn, either. He’s a serious player for Kentucky, North Carolina and Florida. And according to ESPN’s recruiting site, he’s still considering Pitt, Georgetown and Duke.”
– Next Cats has the pertinent information on UK target Anthony Bennett.
ENES KANTER AND THE WHAT-IF PERCEPTION — Good piece from the Kentucky Kernel’s Aaron Smith on Enes Kanter and what his pro career could mean to UK. Aaron writes: “Would a Kanter-led UK have actually reached the potential we place on that hypothetical squad? The next stage of his career – his time in the NBA – will affect how we answer that question. Right now, we can assume Kanter does what he declared he would have done: “dominate” the college game, and subsequently, take UK to the next level. There’s no reason to project Kanter achieving anything less than his fullest potential while at UK, because he didn’t play any games to suggest otherwise. Now he will, as he starts his NBA career off with Utah. Now we see what type of player he really is and what he really can be.”
CLIFFORD SNOW’S MOVE FROM UK TO U OF L — Our old friend and former colleague Chip Cosby caught up with ex-UK director of football operations Clifford Snow, who is now U of L’s director of football operations. Chip reports: “Snow has a history with both UK Coach Joker Phillips and U of L Coach Charlie Strong, serving as director of football operations at South Carolina when both Strong and Phillips were assistant coaches there. Snow worked with Strong for four years in Columbia compared to just one with Phillips. Snow said that he and Strong had discussed working together again if Strong ever became a head coach. And a door opened when U of L director of football operations Ryan Solesky left for another job. Phillips granted Strong permission to interview Snow, who accepted the job shortly thereafter. And Snow knew the move would make some waves. ‘I’m sure there are fans who are thinking, ‘What is that moron doing?’ he said.”
SOUTH CAROLINA WINS OPENER — The Gamecocks knock off Florida 2-1 in 11 innings in the opening game of the CWS championship round. Game two is tonight at on ESPN. Neil White of The State writes: “USC first baseman Christian Walker started the winning rally by singling off Florida reliever Nick Maronde with one out. Walker, who had three stolen bases this season entering the game, swiped second on a hit-and-run play, and when catcher Mike Zunino threw the ball into center field, Walker headed to third. That’s when the improbable happened again. Center fielder Bryson Smith attempted to throw out Walker, and the ball sailed wildly out of play. Just like in USC’s 3-2 win in 13 innings over Virginia last week, a second error led to the winning run.”
– Florida pitcher Nick Maronde is the former Lexington Catholic star.
– The magic keeps on coming, writes Ron Morris of The State.
– The Gators will be looking to escape elimination tonight, writes Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun.
RUSSELL WILSON SNUBS AUBURN — The former North Carolina State quarterback turns down the national champs and decides to transfer to Wisconsin. Following in Cam Newton’s footsteps was apparently not all that appealing. And as a post-grad, Wilson will be eligible immediately. The AP reports: “Still, Wilson’s arrival could fill a glaring need for the Badgers, who must replace the solid play of quarterback Scott Tolzien after their run to the Rose Bowl. Wilson could make the Badgers a favorite in the conference. Wisconsin’s offense failed to score a touchdown in the spring game in April as prospective starters Jon Budmayr and Joe Brennan both struggled under center. Joel Stave appeared to be the sharpest quarterback of the bunch in the spring game, but he is a true freshman.”
– Kevin Scarbinsky thinks it’s a short-term loss but long-term gain for Auburn.
– Georgia redshirt freshman leaves team for personal reasons, reports David Paschall of the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
NO COACH FAVORS 22-GAME BASKETBALL SCHEDULE — Every SEC hoops coach is crowning a true champion, but none are in favor of a true round-robin schedule to determine that champ. Jerry Tipton of the H-L reports: “Future schedules became an issue after the SEC decided last month to do away with divisions beginning with the upcoming 2011-12 season. SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said he would form a committee to explore how many league games each team will play beginning with the 2012-13 season. Stallings said he surprised himself at the Spring Meeting by suggesting a 22-game SEC schedule. Earlier this month, Kentucky Coach John Calipari said a 22-game SEC schedule would be “disaster” to navigate.”
– Basketball divisions gone, now what? asks Mike Strange of the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
THE CONTRARIAN RICK STANSBURY — The Mississippi State coach was outspoken yesterday in his desire to keep the division format for SEC basketball. Reports Brandon Marcello of the Clarion-Ledger: “Despite every coach in the Southeastern Conference disagreeing with him, Rick Stansbury isn’t quieting down. Mississippi State’s veteran coach still doesn’t like that the SEC has abolished divisions. ‘How’s it better?‘ Stansbury asked during a teleconference with SEC reporters Monday. ‘… If that’s the case, then why did the Big Ten just go to divisions (in football)? What’s their reasoning?'”
– Trent Johnson shuffles his staff at LSU, reports Scott Hotard of The Advocate.
BAMA BASKETBALL TO BEEF UP SCHEDULE — I’m bullish on Bama basketball. I’d put the Tide in the No. 3 slot behind Kentucky and Vanderbilt for next season. Plus, Anthony Grant gets it. He wants exposure. Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News writes: “UA has not officially released its men’s basketball schedule for the 2011-12 season yet, but the names that have trickled out in various other places show that the Crimson Tide is serious about adding big-conference muscle to its non-league slate. UA will appear in a November tournament in Puerto Rico that will also include Purdue, Maryland, Temple, Colorado and, in a possible rematch of last March’s NIT final, Wichita State. The Crimson Tide will host Georgetown in the SEC-Big East challenge. If that isn’t enough beef, UA will play away from home against Dayton (a very difficult stop in addition to being Grant’s alma mater), Kansas State (in Kansas City) and Georgia Tech (in Phillips Arena, tentatively). Oklahoma State will come to Birmingham to face the Crimson Tide.”