John Clay: Kentucky fans are right to have high expectations. John Calipari isn't meeting them.

John Clay, Lexington Herald-Leader on

Published in Basketball

When asked by the national media, or from someone outside the Bluegrass, the question always comes with a smirk.

“Obviously one of the things that makes your job tougher than some is the expectations that surround Kentucky,” a media member asked John Calipari in the press conference after UK’s 75-69 loss to Kansas State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday. “Do you empathize with the sense of frustration that I’m sure some Kentucky fans feel right now about kind of where things are?”

High expectations? You bet. Eight national championships. Over 2,000 victories. An arena that seats over 20,000. A loyal and dedicated fan base that will travel to the ends of the Earth to watch its team play. A generous budget for recruiting and staff. A head coach who is paid accordingly at $9 million a year. And who has a “lifetime” contract.

Those are advantages most programs only dream of having.

It all comes with a price.

As the old saying goes, to whom much is given, much is expected.


And John Calipari is not meeting those expectations.

This isn’t a “Fire John Calipari” column. Far from it. The man is a Hall of Fame coach. He has over 700 victories, six Final Fours and a national championship on his resume. He has been an excellent steward of the program, using it for good beyond just basketball.

I’m never going to count John Calipari out.

Ah, but he’s also lost three of his last four NCAA Tournament games. Kentucky hasn’t been to the Sweet 16 round since 2019, to the Final Four since 2015, to the ladder to cut down the nets on championship Monday since 2012.


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