Meaning that Memphis State’s basketball program is in a heap o’ heap. And, despite several Final Four appearances — without a title, of course — the Tigers remain, truth be told, a wannabe. We honor the former Tiger head coach — and U of L assistant before that — because, well, he was always out of timeouts at the end of crucial games, he came up short in the ones that mattered, and, of course, went to the hoosegow for tax evasion.
The University of Kentucky is involved because its president and AD by hiring John Calipari personally hauled a tractor trailer full of the Memphis State muck to the Bluegrass and spread it over the Rupp Arena hardwood.
Before I go on, credit to Gary Parrish, cbssports.com’s most excellent college hoops columnist in spite of his hairdo. He continually seems to trump the other columnists and sites with breaking info, and his insight is sterling and pointed.
He’s written a recent column on the mistakes Memphis State, and especially the Tigers’ AD R.C. Johnson have made in this whole NCAA investigation/ Losing Calipari to UK affair. Read it here.
Briefly his points are that: 1) Memphis never told its new coach Josh Pastner of the January 16 letter, setting out possible violations, 2) Memphis could have kept Calipari simply by revealing the letter when Calipari started talking with the Cats, and 3) Memphis should have made public the charges against it at some point, probably when the school was first notified of them.
So what I’m wondering is this: What’s Coach Cal got on Johnson? The negatives of Johnson inamorata with a sheep? Proof of his fingers in the till? What Memphis State wanted more than anything was to keep Calipari. They offered him significantly more moolah that The Savior is getting in Lexington. All they had to do was own up to its own situation and even Kentucky, as needy as it was for a renewed national presence, wouldn’t have hired Coach Cal. Would they?
A brief word on the possble penalties and UK’s culpability. (The UK thingie appears at the top of this post, because, no matter how you cut it, the Memphis situation, all those disclaimers that Coach Cal is not “at risk” aside, directly affects UK. Period.) Everybody seems to believe that the Tigers will skate on these charges. Doesn’t make sense if one of their players has one of his posse — a relative most likely — traveling gratis with the team. Don’t the rules mean anything?
Besides Calipari, like all these head coaches, are control freaks. They know everything going on in their programs.
How desperate must Mitch Barnhart and Lee Todd have felt when they set all ethics aside and hired Calipari with this cloud hanging over his head?
– Seedy K