CHICAGO (WDRB) -- Dick Vitale is never short of opinions. He was scheduled to provide color commentary for tonight's Champions Classic on ESPN, but before that, he talked about the four coaches who would lead teams in the event.
Before even arriving at the arena, Vitale Tweeted that the University of Kentucky's John Calipari, Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Kansas' Bill Self all would be Naismith Basketball Hall of Famers. Later, he included Florida's Billy Donovan on that list. (Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, who also will coach in the Champions Classic, already is a member of the Hall.)
Vitale said Calipari's credentials already are strong, and soon will be undeniable.
"For John, I think a lot of people will bring up, well, two schools had to take the banners down, the whole bit," Vitale said. "Bottom line is, he is going to win so much that he cannot be denied. Just like Jerry Tarkanian was not denied. Eventually, you have to recognize what he achieved. Plus, he was never, ever accused by the NCAA in either case. A lot of people don't want to buy that, but that is a fact. The NCAA cleared him of any involvement or knowledge of what had transpired."
Vitale is sold on UK's talent, but doesn't know if it's ready for a prime-time matchup with Michigan State. He has his doubts about Calipari being able to maintain chemistry within the Cats' loaded roster, but says he believes Calipari has the ability to make it work.
"The beauty of basketball is chemistry, playing together, unselfishness, sharing the ball, minutes, how you handle the minutes, how you handle the academics," Vitale said. "Two years ago, John had in the palm of his hands two of the greatest young men you would want to coach. And if you talked to them, you knew that, in Anthony (Davis) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. And that was such a unique and special group. I think the true indicator, and you don't have to be a genius to figure it out, Kentucky, the real evaluation is going to come January and February. These kids need time to grow.
"The other thing that I think is a major factor, and I know John doesn't seem concerned about it but if I were coaching I would be, is those minutes, keeping people content. Great players aren't going to buy into 18-20 minutes. You can do that beating up on people. But you start to play people like tonight, those minutes, you're going to get a better indication of who the key players really are. . . . Dr. Calipari is going to become a psychologist. He'll deal with more psychology than going to Harvard. But he's good at that. It's one of his great strengths.
Vitale said he doesn't like one-and-dones in college basketball. He's said it before, many times. But he doesn't fault Calipari for his recruiting success.
"I don't like it, but the bottom line when you think about it, is what is he doing wrong?" Vitale said. "Who would say no to Julius Randle? Who would say no to the Harrison kids? He's just better at it than a lot of other people. He's just following the rule that exists. He has no other choice. The bottom line is to get the best players."