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John Calipari Spurns Kentucky, Joins Arkansas Razorbacks As New Head Coach

John Calipari clapping
© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After a chaotic ride on the coaching carousel, the Arkansas Razorbacks hired John Calipari from Kentucky to take over as the new head basketball coach.

Calipari and the Razorbacks agreed to a 5-year $8 Million deal, late Sunday night. The Razorbacks' longtime donors, The Tysons, are friends with the Calipari family and played a key role in getting Calipari to Fayetteville with donations that include the highest NIL package for any program in the country. The contract is expected to be incentive-laden and finalized on Monday.

Calipari posted a .775 win percentage during his 15 seasons at Kentucky, posting a 410-122 record with four Final Four appearances and one national championship. The 65-year-old fills the vacancy left abruptly by Eric Musselman who signed last week as the new head coach at USC. Musselman was 111-59 in his five seasons at Arkansas. 

Calipari is expected to bring his son Brad Calipari in to serve the team in some capacity, he was Director of On-Court Player Development at Vanderbilt last year. No word has been said whether Calipari plans to retain Razorback legend, assistant coach Ronnie Brewer on his staff.

The Razorbacks currently have just two players on their roster after a mass exodus took place as the 'Muss Bus' went wheels up to sunny SoCal. Trevon Brazile enters his senior year and could still spurn Hog faithful by taking his league-worthy frame to the NBA. 

This would leave Arkansas with one player, 2024 four-star signee SG Isaiah Elohim. 

Calipari will have his work cut out for him taking over such a fluid situation on the roster, but the fallout he leaves behind in Lexington will surely shake up the college basketball world to its core. 

Kentucky is a premier job in college basketball and replacing an iconic coach like Coach Cal is a tall order. The brand of UK basketball is now in a reinvention phase. The big question is, who can fill that void?

Ole Miss’s Chris Beard was linked to the Arkansas job as early as it opened, as was Will Wade from McNeese State and formerly LSU. Could they both be in the mix for the Kentucky job now? Could they lure Scott Drew to the bluegrass state? Big Blue Nation appears to have its eyes set on another standing SEC coach, Nate Oats.

A lot will change as the season winds down the biggest stories may not be during the championship game Monday night, but in the boardrooms of the University of Kentucky and the University of Arkansas. The tides of college basketball will shift, and the winds of change smell like Tyson chicken. 


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