John Calipari's latest scheduling idea is bold but don't make any travel plans yet.
NEWPORT, R.I. (WDRB) – Talking – what else? – basketball on the opening of Big East Football Media Day:
*Twenty minutes ago John Calipari wanted to play Kentucky's marquee non-conference games at neutral sites, football stadiums that are in the rotation to serve as NCAA Tournament locations, if possible. Make it Must-See TV.
Now Calipari tells Andy Katz of ESPN.com that he has a better idea - UK, Louisville, Indiana, Kansas and North Carolina coming together to form essentially a five-team mini-league. The five powers would agree to play the other four teams in the group every season - two games at home, two on the road.
In other words, one season Louisville would play UK and, say, North Carolina at home while playing IU and Kansas on the road. The next season the Cards would play the same four schools with the locations reversed.
I'm not a fan of athletes who say they've invested 110 percent effort into achieving their goals. But this is one case where 110 percent works.
I'm 110 percent certain this idea won't advance beyond the sports talk/message board stage.
In fact, I asked the question to one U of L athletic official at the beginning of Big East Football Media festivities here in Rhode Island and received a quick response:
"No," he said. "We already have a great schedule, especially with all the Big East teams we play."
I'll give Calipari credit for being bold and not being reluctant to brainstorm. The man understands how to make news. But coaches are not in the business of scheduling four non-conference games against Top 25 program every season. Tom Izzo might go for it at Michigan State. Bill Self might study it at Kansas. Cal might be all in, especially if the projections are true that Kentucky is primed to sign five of the top 10 prospects in the high school Class of 2013.
But he was already playing IU, UNC and U of L every season. Next season Louisville is the only game that survived from that group.
I asked both Rick Pitino of Louisville and Tom Crean of Indiana for their opinions on Monday, but neither coach has responded yet. I'll post their comments if they do.
*With the third summer recruiting evaluation session complete, Pitino has departed for Saratoga Springs, N.Y. where he stages his charity golf tournament every year.
Pitino invites coaches, horsemen and staff members to participate in his event at Saratoga National Golf Club. The event generated more than $100,000 for a pair of Catholic charities in Albany, N. Y. last year.
Word is one highlight of the trip this week will be a visit to Saratoga Race Track on Tuesday where trainer Nick Zito will work Gorgui, Pitino's promising 2-year-old colt. The colt's sire was Bellamy Road, who was owned by George Steinbrenner.
Bellamy Road stands for $20,000 at Winstar Farm in Versailles, Ky. Bellamy Road won the Wood Memorial and was the early favorite in the 2005 Kentucky Derby. Winstar quotes Zito as saying he is one of the two best horses he has ever trained.