The Amazing College Hoops Odds Career of John Calipari

Posted by Daniel Strum on September 21, 2015 in

If you are a NCAA Basketball betting fan and you see John Calipari, you see a man with a $7 million salary of his own leading $100 million in future pro basketball talent on the floor, wearing a $2,000 suit. You also see a man who has made it all the way to the apex of his profession. He has had three different colleges  n the Final Four, and he has won an NCAA title. His induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame is richly deserved.

Taking A Look At Coach Calipari’s Great College Hoops Odds Career

John Calipari is thankful to be here, but he does not have the patina of arrogance that many have come to expect. There is still an element of his personality that believes that he must prove his worth each day, again and again. He got this chip on his shoulder growing up in a blue-collar home in a suburb of Pittsburgh. While he might look like he has everything, on the inside he is still chewing on himself about all of those people who still want to take shots at his record.

It is that series of questions that Calipari uses to motivate himself for competition, whether it’s in a recruit’s living room or in a massive arena. He is the example of a man who remains who he is no matter how much money or success he gathers. After all, his father immigrated from Italy and had worked in the coil mines before getting a job handling baggae outside at the Pittsburgh airport. His mother worked at the local junior high cafeteria. His house had two bedrooms, but he also had two sisters, so Calipari had to sleep in the hallway on a bed.

Coach Calipari’s beginnings

After graduating high school in 1979, he headed to UNC-Wilmington to play Division I ball, but he wasn’t quite good enough, so he transferred to Division II Clarion University back at home, and he led the squad in assists for two seasons. He jumped into coaching after that, picking up a spot as a graduate assistant at Kansas. That job included the tasks of walking Larry Brown’s dog and serving food to basketball players in the cafeteria.

Calipari did impress those above him, though. When he was coaching at Five Star Basketball Camp, he called a time out to berate his best kid….a player named Danny Ferry, on his way to becoming a high school All-American. Ferry’s father later said that no one had ever challenged his son like that – but that it was the best thing that could have happened to him.

What Makes John Calipari a Great Coach?

That combination of recruitment and accountability is one of Calipari’s strengths. It takes a master salesman to convince a group of high school All-Americans to buy into a system selflessly and give up minutes and get back on defense for the good of the team. Well, Calipari’s degree from Clarion happens to be in marketing, and he has said that everything in basketball is marketing.

His wizardry paid off at U Mass, where he took the Minutemen to five straight NCAA tournaments starting in his fourth season, including the Final Four in 1996. Before Calipari got there, U Mass had been to one NCAA tournament, in 1962. He has kept that marketing philosophy ever since, putting images up all over Memphis of his most successful players. He has made some mistakes now and then – his Final Four appearances at U Mass and Memphis have since been vacated because of NCAA violations. Calipari was not personally implicated, but those shadows follow him. Even now at Kentucky, where he is gearing up for another deep tournament run, he still asks himself those questions.