Calipari was asked on today's SEC's teleconference about the job Barbee has done in his first year with the young, short-handed Tigers, who struggled but managed to get out of last place in the SEC West, finishing the the regular season 11-19 overall and 4-12 in the conference.
"How about this one? They won as many road games in the league as we have," Calipari said. "I think he should have been considered for Coach of the Year, but we all base it on number of wins.
"You want to talk to any coach about what he's done with that team, to keep them into every game they've played, they've had a chance. To be down 20 and to come back and win games or have a chance to win, that's what coaching is. I just think he's done wonders."
Calipari has a reason for talking up Barbee. He coached Barbee when he was a player at UMass from 1989-93. Barbee was also an assistant on Calipari's staff as a GA at UMass (1995-96) and as an assistant at Memphis (2000-06).
Calipari acknowledged the likely candidates for the honor are Florida's Billy Donovan, Alabama's Anthony Grant and Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings, but -- predictably -- had a strong opinion about his former assistant getting some consideration.
"You've got some haters out there that have got their personal problems that will make jokes about it, but then again they don't know what coaching is," Calipari said. "I think he should be considered."
Auburn enters the SEC tournament as the fifth seed out of the West. It will play Georgia, the East's No. 4 seed, at 1 p.m. ET Thursday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.