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Rain on the Parade

Memphis Madness took downtown by storm last night. I had my man on the scene (the great Jon Roser) hooking me up with updates throughout the event.

18,000 people?

Had to turn people away?

Wow.

That really is incredible. From outside the immediate area, Memphis basketball sure took the hits this offseason. To have your high-profile coach leave, to have your Final Four appearance stripped, and (worse) your pack of top recruits all decommit to wear blue somewhere else – honestly, on the outside – this program was real close to complete implosion. And maybe it still is, though it’s looking less and less likely.

But for the Memphis faithful to turn out in droves last night like they did, it does two things for sure:

  1. At least for the moment, it provides for a tangible rallying cry or launching pad for the fan base and the new-look Memphis Tigers basketball program.
  2. It takes their eyes OFF the ball.

Geoff Calkins, renowned as Mr. Negativity, had a great piece in this morning’s CA. Full of happiness and enthusiasm for the great atmosphere present at FedEx Forum Friday night. But there was one section that drew attention to my own pessimistic sensibilities:

Memphis Madness had never filled FedExForum to brimming, even in the best of years.

But the people kept coming. And coming. And shortly after 7:30, Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson wandered over to the press table.

“We just closed the doors,” he said. “We’re having to turn people away.”

Then, deadpan: “I should have charged.”

Johnson broke into a wide grin at that one. If he seemed giddy — if everyone seemed giddy — you could understand why.

This wasn’t a celebration of any one era or recruiting class. This was a celebration of Memphis and Memphis basketball.

Glad to know that RC is smiling. Kind of like a bank robber in the getaway car who is feeling like he got away scot-free.

Please, Memphis. Don’t let the enthusiasm of the past24 hours make you forget. RC’s a big reason why we’re in this mess in the first place.

  1. He was the one that allowed for John Calipari to run the basketball program in his less-than-squeaky-clean style.
  2. He allowed for basketball recruits the right to decommit if the coach leaves (no one else does this)
  3. Despite repeated gestures that the University is trying to get into a BCS conference, the football program continues to flounder in delapidated facilities and practices at high school fields. (And football is what really matters.) Much of this falls under RC’s responsibility.
  4. He was the one that didn’t disclose the NCAA investigation of Derrick Rose’s SAT scores – which would have likelykept John Calipari from getting the Kentucky job. Instead, he kept quiet (because Cal asked him to), and lost his coach.
  5. And when it came to replacing Cal, he was also unable to obtain his first, second, third, fourth… what number choice was Josh Pastner, anyway?
  6. Oh, and he didn’t disclose the aforementioned NCAA investigation to his new coaching  hire… until it was public knowledge. Kind of puts Josh into even a worse spot.

Thankfully, for the Tiger faithful, Josh has garnered enough attention (and recruits) to keep the fan base enthusiastic. And Friday night demonstrated that.

But please, Tiger fans – don’t let this bank robber off the hook.

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October 17, 2009 - Posted by | Memphis Tigers, Memphis Tigers Football, NCAA Basketball, Uncategorized | , , ,

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