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Friday, April 24, 2009

Dan Wolken - A warning for Josh Pastner and R.C. Johnson


A warning for Josh Pastner and R.C. Johnson
Posted by Dan Wolken

When John Calipari was at Memphis, the 11 other coaches in Conference USA used to call him “The Commissioner” behind his back because he wielded a bigger hammer than anybody in the league, including the real commissioner Britton Banowsky.

There were a lot of things that the other schools in C-USA wanted to do that Calipari flat-out vetoed because it wasn’t in the best interests of his program. He vetoed going to an East/West division format. He vetoed going to 18 league games. He vetoed travel partners for road games (in other words, a Thursday-Saturday format where you play two home games or two road games each week as a cost-saving measure).

Now that Calipari is gone, here’s a well-informed prediction. At the league meetings next month, some C-USA programs will try to run over Memphis and attempt to shoehorn in every bad idea that Calipari vetoed.

This will be a test for new coach Josh Pastner and athletic director R.C. Johnson. If they do what’s right for Memphis — which still carries the freight on the basketball side, like it or not — they will do anything necessary to defeat these bad ideas. And believe me, they are bad ideas. If Calipari knew anything, he knew the formula for maintaining national relevance in Conference USA. Messing with that formula would be disastrous for Memphis. And if it’s disastrous for Memphis, it will be disastrous for the league.

An attempt will be made by the lower-rung programs in Conference USA to bring Memphis down to their level. Just watch. We’ll see if Pastner and Johnson have enough juice to defeat them.

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