John Calipari would appear to have everything you would ever want for your favorite college team’s head coach – his players are always prepared for their opponents, he’s a great in-game coach, and he is clearly a gifted recruiter. That last part is even more apparent now that he has the backing of the vast Kentucky Wildcat Nation, arguably the deepest, most rabid, most powerful fan base in all of college basketball. Add in the fact that Cal can walk into any recruit’s living room and break out a list of all the players he’s sent to the NBA – specifically guards (most recently Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans, and soon-to-be-top-pick John Wall) – and he’s going to land pretty much any player he wants.
Now, just to make the recruiting landscape even more lopsided, Calipari also dominates the realm of social networking, specifically Twitter and Facebook. It’s a fact that puts Calipari and his Kentucky program light years ahead of the competition and sets the stage for him to dominate even more thoroughly for years to come.
Today’s New York Times actually profiles Cal’s social networking practices and demonstrates how his forward thinking allows him to extend his reach and his program’s reach to millions more fans (and players) than your average coach.
Calipari has 1,113,647 followers on Twitter, 138,325 fans on Facebook, and his Coach Cal application for the iPhone and iPod touch sold more than 6,000 applications in its first month, making it the top paid sports application on iTunes less than a week after its debut last month.
His Web site, CoachCal.com, which went up in July, receives more than 100,000 page views each week. It has been visited by people from more than 100 countries, even Kyrgyzstan, which borders China.
His efforts help both Cal and his program in terms of efforts having to do with branding, fund-raising, bringing awareness to various charitable causes, and getting fans to send text messages to support John Wall‘s push for the Naismith Player of the Year Award.
Make no mistake though, above all, this type of online push ultimately will go a long way to keeping Kentucky as college basketball’s top elite program:
And although Calipari said he was not sure how much of an effect his social networking has on recruiting, his players have taken notice. Forward Patrick Patterson said he was shocked when Calipari tweeted that he had missed an appointment with the Grammy-nominated rapper Drake.
Drake said he admired Calipari’s social networking presence, noting that he has only 526,017 followers on Twitter.
“He’s way bigger than me,” Drake said. “He’s a legend. He’s a leader of the Blue Nation. I bow down to him and his followers. I’m just one of the many.”
As college basketball continues to move towards a completely level playing field where there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the talent of “elite” programs and smaller schools (look no further than this year’s NCAA Tournament and a Sweet 16 that features St. Mary’s, Northern Iowa and Cornell for evidence), every program needs to continue to innovate in creative ways in order to stay ahead of the competition.
As far as I can tell, the only other college coach who is even in the same realm as Cal in terms of utilizing the internet is Coach K. He has his own podcasts and iPhone apps, but nothing on the level of Calipari. It’s a space that Cal will continue to pioneer, and because he is so far ahead of other coaches, will ultimately help him to dominate on the court for the foreseeable future.
Read the Full NY Times article HERE.
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