We have just been handed the most wonderful, unexpected gift we could have asked for. Georgia Tech is hiring Josh Pastner to coach their basketball team. Yes, our beleaguered head coach is departing of his own free will and we aren’t on the hook for $10.6M anymore. The slate is clean.
Sixteen years ago the Memphis basketball program found itself in much the same predicament. In fact, the program was in a little worse shape then than now. But that doesn’t change the fact that our basketball program finds itself firmly locked into the category of “mediocre.” We are better than this. Like we were in 2000, we are a program with a solid pedigree that is down on its luck. Back then we went after a coach who was the mirror image of our basketball program: solid pedigree but down on his luck. That coach was John Calipari, and the relationship between Memphis and Calipari was symbiotic. We energized each other.
In 2016, there is another coach with a solid pedigree who has fallen off the pedestal. His name is Bruce Pearl. He did things at the University of Tennessee that had never been done before, but he got caught up in scandal and currently finds himself coaching in the basketball purgatory of Auburn, Alabama. (If there’s one thing we love in Memphis, it’s the scandal-ridden.) Imagine what he could do at Memphis. The relationship between Memphis and Pearl could be just as symbiotic.