Rick Pitino had an athletic director and a university president in his corner. John Calipari one-upped him with the governor.
It really is a great time to be a college basketball coach in Kentucky, where the paychecks run bigger than hats at the Derby and winning games means never having to say you're sorry.
Get caught with your pants down and someone is right there to pull them back up for you. Disgrace your old school and someone will lead the cheers to make sure everyone knows it wasn't really your fault.
Just win, baby, win.
That seems to be all that matters in college hoops, a world increasingly populated by scammers in fine Italian suits who a generation ago would have been selling vacuum cleaners on your doorstep. Though they still troll neighborhoods today, the target has changed from housewives to 18-year-olds who might lead them to the promised land that is the Final Four.
The dirt is still flying. Unlike the vacuum salesmen, though, they don't clean it up themselves.
to sort things out.
The great thing is they can do no wrong. As long as they don't commit the ultimate sin of losing at home (see Billy Gillispie), they get a free pass from both the faithful and the powerful.
Sure, Louisville could have invoked a morals clause in his contract and fired Pitino for having sex in a restaurant with a woman he had met just hours earlier, then giving her $3,000 as she headed across state lines for an abortion. But why get all hot and bothered about a little indiscretion when the Cardinals need Pitino on the bench when they travel Jan. 2 to Lexington to take on the Wildcats?
And what's the point of punishing Calipari for what happened in Memphis a few years back? Old news, and they're just a bunch of losers now, anyway. Remember, this guy has been to the Final Four more than once. So what if they keep taking his wins away?
Kentuckians sure are an interesting bunch. Maybe the best thing about them is they are quick to forgive and forget.
d off the books in his career.
``I'm not worried about it because they have never said Coach Cal did anything wrong at all,'' Gov. Steve Beshear said. ``I think he's a very upstanding guy. I think that's his reputation and I think that reputation will be with him here. I really don't foresee any problems.''
No, there shouldn't be any problems. If there are, it doesn't matter anyway because Calipari can just claim ignorance and the spineless NCAA will let him sign a new $32 million contract somewhere else.
That's what happened when Calipari bolted from Memphis just as the probe into Derrick Rose's eligibility heated up. Calipari claimed he had no idea that Rose's SAT test wasn't legitimate, the NCAA said it wouldn't sanction the coach, and the celebration began in Lexington.
That's another great thing about Kentuckians. They believe a man when he gives them his word.
Never mind that Calipari is the typical control freak coach who knows everything from the number of socks his team goes through in a season to what his backup center had a week ago for breakfast. If he says he didn't know the star he recruited to lead Memphis to the championship game failed the SAT three times in Chicago before turning in a passing grade from Detroit, well, that's good enough for them.
t's reasonable to believe that Pitino was simply an early adopter of the single payer system.
No need for lengthy explanations. This is Kentucky, after all.
A great place to be a basketball coach.
---
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org

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