By LARRY VAUGHT
James Crepea of the Montgomery Advertiser had a chance to ask UK coach John Calipari during the SEC spring meetings in Destin about the chance of former Auburn coach Tony Barbee joining the Kentucky staff.
“He and I are talking about coming with us, so that’s an option for him,” Calipari told Crepea. “I know there’s some NBA opportunities he may go after and he may take a year. He’s got three years to figure out what he wants to do. He’ll be a head coach again but I think he’ll have options.”
Barbee worked six years as an assistant under Calipari at Memphis and played for him at UMASS. Some speculated that he might get the job that went to ace recruiter Barry Rohrssen after Orlando Antigua left for South Florida.
Calipari said Barbee’s firing was part of the coaching business. Calipari was fired as coach of the New Jersey Nets before going to Memphis and then eventually to Kentucky.
“Hard business we’re in. Most jobs are like small business – you’re 30 days from bankruptcy – one or two things go wrong, you’re out,” Calipari said to Crepea. “That’s how this is. One kid got hurt, another kid – he was ineligible. In basketball it’s different than having the cavalry in football. You got five guys, one or two of that is 40 percent of your team.
“How was I as a coach when we lost Nerlens (Noel)? I was really good; first round NIT (and) out. That’s just how it is. There are circumstances that lead to some of that stuff. You go back and say what (Barbee) did at UTEP, which was outstanding and unbelievable, you can’t throw that away.”