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Monday, April 06, 2009

Geoff Calkins - Diaper Dandy! Josh Pastner bringing youth and a bit of a gamble to Tigers

Geoff Calkins: Diaper Dandy! Josh Pastner bringing youth and a bit of a gamble to Tigers

By Geoff Calkins, Memphis Commercial Appeal
Originally published 10:08 p.m., April 6, 2009
Updated 10:14 p.m., April 6, 2009

I have seen the future of Memphis basketball and I would like to reach out and pinch its cheeks.

Josh Pastner is 31. That's not much older than some Memphis players under John Calipari.

Memphis wanted to make a "wow" hire. This is more of a "coochie coochie coo."

At noon today, Memphis athletics director R.C. Johnson will introduce Pastner as the next men's head basketball coach.

Looks like Memphis has itself a Diaper Dandy.

Or not. Time will tell, won't it?

At least everyone can return to actual, productive living again.

Y'all can stop obsessing about the coaching search.

Y'all can stop -- please, stop! -- suggesting names of wonderful candidates.

It's done, over, finished.

Johnson picked Pastner. And if he hadn't accepted, reliable sources say Johnson was going to offer it to the other two Jonas Brothers.

The former coach was loved by the Blue Hairs. This coach will add the teeny boppers.

Sample reaction from Facebook:

"Jessie has a crush on Josh Pastner."

"Wes loves Pastner."

Wes, apparently, is a man.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Pastner is a coach Memphians can rally around, no matter their age or gender.

He's a rising star, a coaching prodigy, a guy who has been working toward this day since he first learned to dribble a basketball.

Which was about a month ago, if you take a look at him.

Gene Bartow has shoes older than Pastner. Most of Cal's Championship Steaks have aged longer than the new Memphis coach.

But after a week of trying to get someone -- anyone! -- to take the job, the search team had placed its bet on the future.

USC head coach Tim Floyd declined. So did Tennessee's Bruce Pearl, Missouri's Mike Anderson and Baylor's Scott Drew.

Stunned, Johnson moved on to Florida State's Leonard Hamilton and former Memphis assistant Derek Kellogg.

They pulled out Monday.

That left Pastner, the former Arizona walk-on -- think Preston Laird -- who joined Calipari's staff a year ago in hopes that it would help him get a head coaching job.

Pastner said "yes." Good thing, too, because Johnson's next call was to Bradley Calipari.

And, absolutely, it's a risk. The guy has never been a head coach. He has never been the one with the radio show and the dry erase board. He's also been questioned in connection with the NCAA's on-going investigation at Arizona.

Some young coaches work out brilliantly. See Sean Miller and Billy Donovan. Some young coaches work out miserably. See Quin Snyder and Todd Bozeman.

It's impossible to know which way this one will go. But how can you not hope it works out for Pastner, the program and the community?

It has been a hard week for everyone. Maybe harder than it had to be. But if Johnson didn't pick the guy you would have -- or conduct the search the way I would have -- there's no point in grumbling about it.

Memphis made its choice. Pastner is the one. If this breaks the right way, we might not have to go through another coaching search for three more decades.

So here's hoping he does well. At the very least, it'll be different.

The last nine years have all been about Coach Cal.

Starting today, it's Coach McDreamy.

To reach Geoff Calkins, call 529-2364 or e-mail

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