Agrarianism, NCAA Hoops, and Loyalty to Place


More good news out of Kentucky (in addition to mountain-top removal and deforestation): Memphian Tiger John Calipari has been named the new coach of the beleaguered UK Wildcats, which means that the loyalty of MSU coach Tom Izzo, the Great Lakes State’s best-loved but much-coveted native son, remains inviolate.

Okay, Izzo’s a Yooper. But East Lansing is a lot closer than Lexington to Robert Traver country, and so far the highly successful Izzo (5 trips to the Final Four in eleven years and a national championship) has been able to fend off the hypermobility that Front Porcher Kauffman calls the “great undiagnosed malady” of our age.

But the malady has blasted Calipari–that plus the money, which tends to accompany the malady. According to the AP, he’ll get $31.65 million over eight years (such a long time to be in one place!) plus incentives amounting to a 2.5 million-dollar signing bonus.  Plus there will be a $200,000 buy-out payable to Memphis, which now needs a coach and may even need people to cover freshman English classes–at a rate of … well, adjuncts work for very little.  I remember doing it for between $1,100 and $1,300 per course per semester.

Meanwhile, the U of K will suffer, at least for now, about $10 million in budget cuts. That includes cuts to one of its best assets, the University Press of Kentucky, expertly manned by director Steve Wrinn, whose Culture of the Land series is one of the best things going right now.

What Calipari’s pocket change could do for that good press, that good series, and that good man breaks the heart that imagines it.

(And what rejoicing there will be Saturday in Rock Island if Izzo’s boys can knock off hateful, repellent, under-investigation, and aptly-named UConn.)

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