Five-ish Former Hogs among The Celebrities Blown Away by John Calipari Hire

John Calipari hire steals headlines, sets sports world on fire

John Calipari, Kentucky basketball, Arkansas basketball
photo credit: Craven Whitlow

Sandwiched between both of college basketball’s national title games, Arkansas somehow became the talk of the sports world with its shocking hire of Kentucky’s John Calipari as the next head coach of the Razorbacks.

After a chaotic coaching search that took Arkansas fans on a roller coaster ride from Chris Beard and Jerome Tang to Chris Jans and Darrell Walker, athletic director Hunter Yurachek ended up pulling in the biggest fish of them all.

Rumors began to swirl surrounding Arkansas and Coach Cal when local radio hosts first suggested the move, but neither fanbase really believed it. That’s when the plane trackers went to work, and discovered private jet flights between Lexington and Northwest Arkansas late Sunday evening. Just before midnight, the story officially broke at the national level.


The news quickly swept around the country, shooting to the top of the trending charts. SportsCenter ran the story as the show’s Sunday night headliner.

Commentator Dick Vitale, arguably the most iconic voice in college basketball, weighed in on what he called a “slam dunk” hire by Arkansas. All-American center Hunter Dickinson from Kansas was simply mind-blown.

John Calipari’s shocking move reached well beyond the college basketball sphere, as multiple NBA legends gave their take on the news – including NBA Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett and 3x All-Star Gilbert Arenas, an emerging loud-mouth Hall of Famer in world of sports media.

It’s alright, KG. I was just as surprised as you when I saw the numbers being floated around. Despite usually being focused on professional sports, “Undisputed” host Skip Bayless caught wind of the news. Even Fox News had something to say on the matter.

A handful of current and former Arkansas players had the same reaction as fans to the massive shake-up to Razorback athletics.

John Calipari and “Former” Arkansas Basketball Players

Whether Khalif Battle is a “former” Razorback or not is debatable given the Arkansas basketball star from this past season entered the transfer portal after Eric Musselman’s exit to USC last week. Now, however, he could conceivably be wooed back into the fold given the “wow” factor Calipari brings. It should be fascinating to see what kind of talent John Calipari is able to procure not only from the transfer portal and the multiple Top 100-caliber class of 2024 guys he had signed to Kentucky, but also whether guys like Battle, Tramon Mark and Layden Blocker want to return to a program led by Calipari (whether or not he would have roster space for all of them is a different matter).

The prospect of drawing enviable talent from so many areas is yet another confirmation that this hire is absolutely massive for the Arkansas brand, and causes a major ripple effect in the college basketball world by opening up the most prestigious coaching seat in the sport.

The move shows a massive financial commitment from Arkansas’ higher-ups, as a contract in the neighborhood of $40 million with a huge NIL war chest will allow the Hogs to compete with anybody and everybody.

If Razorback fans thought that Arkansas’ 2022 recruiting class that featured three McDonald’s All-Americans was a once-in-a-lifetime thing, they can rest assured knowing that having blue-chip talent like that will become a regular occurrence under Coach Cal.

Calipari is the most recognizable face in college basketball, and mixing his designer pinstripe suits with the rabid passion of Bud Walton Arena will make every Arkansas game a spectacle for years to come.


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