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Saturday, April 04, 2009

A Long Proud Legacy That Will Be Once Again

So, we patiently (or not so patiently) go through Final Four weekend looking for a coach. Believe it or not this is the best weekend of the year to be looking. For a great look at the college coaching ranks take a weekend some day to read Last Dance Behind the Scenes at the Final Four by John Feinstein, Backbay Book, 2006.

It is funny how Memphis is regarded as such as small school with a "non-BCS" type following. And yet, I noticed on Facebook last night that their Team Page has the 11th most members of any page. They always seem to rank in the Top 20 for Team Pages on ESPN, Fox and others.

I've read several comments from opposing fans saying, "So long Memphis, the ride is over." Obviously, these fans are all under the age of 25. Yes, Memphis' "run" this time consisted of about four years, but the program has been pretty strong for about fifty years. Consider that Memphis' 21 NCAA Tournaments, 3 Final Fours and 2 National Final appearances compare very favorably to Illinois (27 appearances, 5 Final Fours, no titles), Oklahoma (25 appearances, 4 Final Fours, no titles), Texas (26 appearances, 3 Final Fours, no titles), Arizona (27 appearances, 4 Final Fours, 1 Title), Marquette (26 appearances, 3 Final Fours, 1 title), Maryland (22 appearances, 2 Final Fours, 1 title), Syracuse (31 appearances, 4 Final Fours, 1 title) and Villanova (29 appearances, 4 Final Fours, 1 title).

Yes, Memphis has a major hurdle to overcome. All of the above aforementioned teams play in BCS conferences.

It will be very interesting to see if Memphis basketball can stay above the label of "mid-major". It will require a coach who can land top 100 players and keep the program relevant.

For all of the detractors and naysayers out there. Game on.


jdogg said...

I have been a huge fan of Tiger basketball, and I am a graduate of Memphis State University. Nevertheless, It is pitiful to hear people deluding themselves into believing that the Tiger basketball program will rebound from this. It won't, and it's time that we face that fact. It's easy for me to see the truth as I write this, having just heard of Drew's noninterest in the Memphis coaching position. The fact is, NO COACH of any reputation or quality is going to come to the University of Memphis. Part of it is the high expectations that fans will have in the wake of Calipari, some of it is this lousy, violent city, and some of it is the lousy Conference USA of which the University of Memphis is a member. At some point a coach will be hired, probably someone either over the hill or unknown. Memphis might get a few homegrown recruits every now and then, and win a few conference games and that will be that. I don't believe that the Memphis Tigers will ever again be in the ranks of national basketball programs. I hope I'm wrong, but I think the evidence is there for anyone that's not looking through rose-colored glasses.

Coach said...

I agree that the expectations for the next coach are already set high. That is a natural reaction to te kind of success Memphis has enjoyed of late. But, I believe you are missing several things that give Memphis chances to excel. One, the program has a pretty good and large fan base (though Memphis fans are very fair-weather, so a few sub-500 seasons would hurt). Two, there is a good amount of money here. That has been proven, too the surprise of many. Three, Memphis has outstanding facilities (for basketbal, any way). Four, Memphis has a natural source of strong talent even if a coach never leaves a 100 miles radius of the city - look at the success of every coach prior to Cal's national approach. And five, Memphis does have tradition.

I've been a season ticket holder for 31 seasons and I'll a loyal and a realistic fan.