Why Mississippi State Basketball Fans Should Keep an eye on the Kentucky Coaching Search

The sports world is in shock after John Calipari left Kentucky to become Arkansas' next coach. And that move could have an impact on Mississippi State basketball.
Mar 20, 2024; Charlotte, NC, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Chris Jans during interviews
Mar 20, 2024; Charlotte, NC, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Chris Jans during interviews / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

On the eve of the national championship game, the college basketball world and sports universe as a whole received stunning news that was almost unbelievable.

Kentucky head coach John Calipari is leaving the Wildcats to become the next head coach at the University of Arkansas.

Rumors began trickling out that this was a possibility Sunday afternoon, but at the time it seemed like nothing more than unfounded message board fodder. Why on earth would a coach leave arguably the best college basketball job in the country to take a job multiple tiers worse? To be clear, Arkansas is a very good job, but it's nothing compared to Kentucky.

Well, those rumors turned out to be reality. Calipari was in fact leaving Lexington and heading to Fayetteville. And as stunning a decision as it was, there's understandable reasoning behind it.

Cal's tenure at UK had turned sour over the last few seasons. The lack of recent postseason success at a program that expects national championships had Cat fans ready to run him out of town. It was somewhat surprising he wasn't fired following this year's first round defeat at the hands of 14-seed Oakland.

The decision had been made to bring him back for the 24-25 season, but Cal saw the writing on the wall. Next season was likely to be his last in Lexington. So he chose to take a solid opportunity to restart the clock on his career at an Arkansas program that, yes, has high expectations but is no where close to as pressure-filled as UK.

Now, the fallout from this move begins. Kentucky is the bluest of blue bloods. It's a job unlike maybe any other in the sport. And that means the list of candidates will be as star-studded as you can find. There's a chance a sitting head coach from an elite program leaves their current gig to take over the Wildcats.

If that happens, the domino effect on the rest of the sport will be significant. And it's why Mississippi State basketball fans need to keep a close eye on the Kentucky coaching search and subsequent moves that follow.

Because there's a chance their coach ends up riding along the coming coaching carousel.

Chris Jans won't be a candidate at Kentucky

Let's get this out of the way at the start. Chris Jans will not be a candidate for the Kentucky head coaching vacancy. He doesn't fit the mold of what Big Blue Nation is looking for in a head coach.

He hasn't had major postseason success, he isn't an elite recruiter, and simply put, he's just not a big enough name to be the splash hire expected in Lexington.

Jans is an excellent coach. He's a great program builder who gets the absolute most out of his teams. He's among the best defensive coaches in the country. And he's shown the ability to work the transfer portal, an important quality to have in this era of the sport.

But he's not what Kentucky wants, so there's no concern about him leaving Starkville for Lexington. However, there's potential that the domino effect from this search would lead to Mississippi State basketball's head man getting looks elsewhere.

Programs impacted by the Kentucky search could make runs at Chris Jans

Though Chris Jans won't be under consideration for Kentucky, he might be considered by programs that are impacted by Kentucky's hire.

Kentucky will likely make make an attempt at coaches currently not in college basketball such as former Villanova HC Jay Wright or current Chicago Bulls and former Florida HC Billy Donovan. Those are massive names that fit what they want. And if either of them are the hire, then there wouldn't be any trickle-down impact on the rest of college basketball.

But the chances at those coaches saying "yes" seem slim. In all likelihood, UK is going to pull a sitting HC from a major college basketball program. And if that happens, you'll see major impacts across the sport.

Coaches like Baylor's Scott Drew, Alabama's Nate Oats, Gonzaga's Mark Few, and Houston's Kelvin Sampson could all get looks. If any of those coaches leave for Kentucky, there will suddenly be another very attractive job open that would likely land a sitting head coach. And if they pulled a sitting head coach, guess what? That means yet another job would open.

Yes, we're playing the hypothetical game here, but it's valid. More than likely, there will be a run of good jobs opening across the sport, and if that happens, don't be surprised if Chris Jans gets consideration for them.

Jans is well-respected in the coaching industry with college basketball insiders naming him as someone to watch who could soon be in line for a high-profile job. Since last season, his name has been tied to vacancies at Wichita State, SMU, and Arkansas. Other programs have taken notice, and they will come calling.

To be clear, I still expect Chris Jans to be Mississippi State's HC next season. But if in the coming weeks we see some major jobs come open, it would not be shocking to see Jans named as a candidate elsewhere. That simply comes with the territory of having a successful HC.

Hopefully, Mississippi State can do what is necessary to keep Chris Jans in Starkville for years to come. There's great momentum being built up behind the program right now. We'll see if they can keep it rolling.