Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats is seen during the game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Rupp Arena
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Kentucky Without Calipari: What the Future Could Look Like in Lexington With No Coach Cal

It's been a less-than-stellar season for the Kentucky Wildcats this year. There have definitely been a lot of ups and downs. Before the season started, they were ranked No. 4 in the nation, and two of those voters had them as the No. 1 team. At the time this article was written, they aren't even ranked. There have been moments when they weren't even considered a bubble team to make the NCAA Tournament. After two big wins against Mississippi State and Tennessee, ESPN's Joe Lunardi now has them projected to be a No. 8 or 9 seed. At times, there were rumors that coach John Calipari and the University of Kentucky athletic director weren't talking. This, along with some bad losses, led to rumors that Calipari might leave the team at the end of the year, possibly heading to the vacant head coaching position at Texas. And some loyal members of Big Blue Nation voiced that they would love for that to happen. But what would happen if Calipari did leave Kentucky for a new job?

First off, he has a lifetime contract with Kentucky, so it's more than likely he will have to choose to leave the team on his own as opposed to being fired. But if he did leave, all one has to do is look back at the other teams he has left to get an idea of what could happen to Kentucky.

Coach Cal's Road to Kentucky

Kentucky head coach John Calipari directs his team against Georgia.

Andy Lyons via Getty Images

Calipari's first head coaching gig was at the University of Massachusetts, and his impact was felt immediately. In just his second season with the Minutemen, he led the team to the National Invitation Tournament. Although some might feel that's not impressive, this was a team that had 10 straight losing seasons prior to Calipari taking over. In his fourth season, UMass won the regular season and postseason A-10 Championship. UMass owned the A-10 in the '90s, winning five consecutive A-10 championships. In 1996, the Minutemen made the Final Four, an incredible feat for the mid-major program. Calipari's record at UMass was 193-71 — a .731 winning record — the best of any coach in the team's 100-plus-year history.

Then, seemingly overnight, Calipari told school officials he was leaving for the NBA. The timing of the announcement seemed questionable, as it came two days after a scandal broke out with his star player, Marcus Camby. It was determined that Camby was paid by two agents, making him ineligible to play college basketball. Calipari was conveniently no longer in college basketball when the decision to punish UMass and Camby came down. While UMass was able to make the NCAA Tournament the two years after Calipari left, it has been unable to reach any degree of success like it did in the '90s.

After three years in the NBA, Calipari jumped back into the college basketball world, taking over the Memphis Tigers' basketball program. He would find success similar to what he had at UMass during his tenure at the University of Memphis. He won 214 games, posting seven consecutive seasons of 20-plus victories. In 2008, Memphis reached the No. 1 ranking in the nation, only the second time in school history. That year, it reached the national championship game, losing to Kansas 75-68 in overtime.

But as at UMass, Calipari isn't remembered for his success but instead for the controversy surrounding his players. During the 2007-08 season, it is alleged that Derrick Rose cheated on his SATs and that the Memphis basketball program helped him do so. It was also alleged that an associate of another player was paid to travel to road games that season. All of the wins and Final Four appearances for that season were vacated. Months after the allegations surfaced, Calipari left Memphis for Kentucky. Since then, Memphis has not come close to reaching the success it had when Calipari was the coach.

Two teams, two scandals, and two voids that haven't been filled. Kentucky is a significantly bigger program than UMass' and Memphis' and this was true before Calipari became their head coach — so it's unlikely the void would be massive if Calipari left after this year. Sill, other massive programs such as Duke and UNC are seeing a little setback after losing their successful coaches. As of this moment, Kentucky has the No. 1 recruiting class for the 2023 season. Would those recruits stay if Calipari left? That is to be determined. And there haven't been any scandals leading to vacancies of wins or tournament appearances. But given his previous tenures at other schools, it could be a tumultuous transition period if Calipari leaves the Wildcats at the end of this season.

MORE: Turmoil in Lexington? Coach Calipari and Kentucky's AD No Longer on Speaking Terms