UK head coach John Calipari, left, was dejected after they lost their first round NCAA Tournament game against Saint Peter’s at the Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, In. on Mar. 17, 2022. Saint Peter’s won 85-79 in OT. Uk Saints05 Sam

It seems so wild to be true but former Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari is leaving Lexington to become the new coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks.

These are strange times we are living in when the head coach of Kentucky basketball decides to make a lateral move to any SEC rival, especially Arkansas. Not that Arkansas is a bad program, but they haven’t won a national championship or made it to a Final Four since Nolan Richardson led them in the 1990s.

Now, they’re hoping that 65-year-old John Calipari, almost a decade removed from his last Final Four, can be the one to bring them back.

Why would Cal leave Kentucky at this point in his career? Obviously, he’s unhappy.

Kentucky fans reached a breaking point this season after seeing the Wildcats lose to Oakland in the first round of the NCAA Tournament while watching the Tennessee Volunteers and Alabama Crimson Tide make it to the Sweet 16, with Bama going to the Final Four.

It’s been nine years since Cal and the Wildcats made a Final Four run, and for them to see their SEC rivals become bigger and better than them, was too much for fans to take.

The parting of ways seems to be mutual between him and Kentucky. But the question is, what is Arkansas thinking?!?

The Hogs want to get back on top and it seemed they were headed that way with Eric Musselman, but with all that talent, he wasn’t able to get past the Elite Eight. While that earned him a contract extension, the fact that he felt like he could do more at USC said everything.

Arkansas fans watched what happened when Cal arrived at Kentucky in 209, putting together two Final Fours and a national title in his first three seasons, but surely they don’t think that’s the Coach Cal they’re getting in 2024, do they?

This isn’t that John Calipari, this is 65-year-old Coach Cal, stuck in his way, especially when it comes to the transfer portal. Everyone knows Cal can recruit and has no problem bringing in one-and-done players. The problem is that the game has changed,

Alabama’s Nate Oats made a Final Four run with Grant Nelson, Mark Sears, and Aaron Estrada, all from the transfer portal. Estrada was in his fourth school.

Cal has gone into the portal a few times over the years, but it seems that he’s not a fan of it. He wants to develop his players, which is understandable, but at what cost?

Not to be an ageist, but, he is also on the tail end of his career. Even if he manages to get the Hogs back on track, how long is it before they are doing another job search?

This is just a temporary fix for a program desperate to be relevant again. As it stands right now, that’s going to hard considering where the SEC is in terms of talented teams.

Alabama is only getting better (if Nate Oats stays), Kentucky is probably going to get stronger with their next coach, and let’s not forget about the reigning SEC regular season and tournament champs, the Tennessee Volunteers, and the Auburn Tigers.

While Arkansas made a good move on paper, they still might find themselves behind the rest of the SEC like a hamster on a wheel going nowhere.

About Stacey Mickles

Stacey is a 1995 graduate of the University of Alabama who has previously worked for other publications such as Sportskeeda and Saturday Down South.