Kentucky had just beaten Duke in a high-level college basketball game Tuesday when Wildcats coach John Calipari’s thoughts turned to the next opponent.
“This is one game,” Calipari said, “but if we lose to Wright State, you people in Kentucky will think I should be fired.”
WSU (1-2) indeed heads to Lexington for a game Friday that does not figure to be ultra competitive. Kentucky needed a home game and WSU happily took about $90,000 to play the role of sacrificial lamb.
Calipari and Wright State actually are old acquaintances. When WSU was looking for a coach in 1997, Calipari recommended Ed Schilling, his good friend and former assistant at UMass and with the NBA’s New Jersey Nets. Schilling lasted six seasons, and when he was fired in 2003 after failing to make athletics director Mike Cusack’s dream of a top-50 program come true, Calipari wasn’t happy about it.
“You want it to be top 50, you have to invest,” Calipari told Dayton Daily News reporter Dave Lance at the time. “It’s not just a building, it’s not just bricks and mortar. It has to be an investment. What you’re probably trying to do is get 125, or 150. That’s where you’re trying to take the program.
“I’m disappointed for Wright State as well as Eddie because it’s just hard to get coaches who are as good as he is.”
Calipari almost visited Wright State early in Schilling’s tenure when somebody came up with the idea for “An Evening with John Calipari.” The event was canceled due to lack of interest.
Schilling left WSU with a 75-93 record and has not been a head coach since. He rejoined Calipari as an assistant at Memphis and now is Steve Alford’s top assistant at UCLA.
More recently, current WSU coach Billy Donlon was miffed when guard Julius Mays transferred to Kentucky after two years to play his senior season for Calipari.
“If I was in his shoes, would I have made a different decision?” Donlon said at the time. “Absolutely. I believe in loyalty.”
Browns assistants bask in the limelight
Remember when it took one person to coach a position group in football? Well, those days are long gone, evidenced by the Browns employing an outside linebackers coach.
On their last workday before scattering to the winds to enjoy their bye week, nearly every assistant coach was made available to the media Wednesday.
As could be expected, nothing too enlightening emerged, although veteran beat writer Steve Doerschuk of the Canton Repository seemed to do the best job making sense out of the nonsense, as he often does.
A few highlights as one assistant coach after another strode to the hot seat:
• Outside linebackers coach Brian Fleury said Craig Robertson is the “heart and soul” of the defense. Not so sure Robertson should be pleased with this considering it’s one of the league’s worst units, but oh well.
• Offensive line coach George DeLeone, who took over after Andy Moeller’s alcohol-fueled domestic incident led to his firing, traced rookie Cam Erving’s mistakes in Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh to how hard he was playing.
“He was all over the field,” DeLeone said.
• Tight ends coach Brian Angelichio was asked about sixth-round draft pick Randall Telfer, who has yet to see the field due to injury. Seems he soon might. Meanwhile, he apparently excels just sitting there.
“He’s been awesome in the meeting room,” Angelichio said. “His preparation has been great, been taking notes.”
• Wide receivers coach Joker Phillips joked a little about newly named starting quarterback Johnny Manziel. Or maybe he was serious.
“You think of Johnny, and there is nothing he couldn’t do,” Phillips said. “I bet he could start in the NBA. He could play shortstop. He is just one of those type of athletes. He is a great athlete that could probably play anything.”
The Browns will be happy if Manziel does a convincing imitation of an NFL quarterback over the next six weeks.
Gammons was wrong, but Chapman’s going
Last weekend, Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons said he had been told by four sources that a trade of Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman would happen by the end of that weekend.
It hasn’t happened.
Hard to see how the Reds will acquire anything but a mid-level prospect for Chapman — who can be a free agent after the 2106 season — when everybody knows he’s on the block. They have zero leverage, although a number of teams are said to be interested.
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