It must be terrible to be a Memphis fan.
You've lost your coach to Kentucky and then when you looked for a replacement, no one would take the job. You've been an elite team in college basketball the past couple of years, but there's always that caveat added that you play in a weak conference. Then you've got the whole 2007-08 season where you only had two losses--one to the Vols on national TV in your home arena and the other in the national title game where you choked away your chances to win, losing in overtime.
Well, turns out now that even if you'd won, it wouldn't matter. The NCAA is set to take away all your wins from that year
. Actually, they're going to force the team to vacate all the wins from that season, which every time I hear the term "vacate" I have an image of a landlord trying to roost an unruly tenant from an apartment. Apparently there were some NCAA violations involving someone else taking the ACT for Derek Rose.
It's got to sting, but I have to wonder how much more it would hurt if they'd actually won the game. Would Kansas suddenly run out and print up a bunch of national champion t-shirts, hats and other collectibles? Would the issue of Sports Illustrated that celebrated your title become a huge collector's item, going for hundreds of dollars on E-Bay?
What I find really intriguing about this are the conspiracy theories that are circulating around it-a lot of them centered on now-Kentucky coach John Calipari. Apparently, Calipari caught wind of these storm clouds on the horizon and that may have been a reason that he thought the Kentucky job was so incredibly ideal. (I mean, besides the fact that he can be around a great coach in Bruce Pearl twice a year now and see the orange blazer...). Did Coach C know what was going on and did he leave Memphis in the lurch? And if he is involved, is it fair to the Memphis fans and the university and the new team?
Seems to me that by moving, Calipari may have avoided having to deal with the consquences of these violations. It might have dinged his popularity a bit in Memphis and it would definitely have hurt his recruiting ability for Memphis. It's one of those crazy loopholes in the NCAA rules where the university gets dinged but they can't touch the coach if he's gone elsewhere. I'm not really sure it's fair, but it's the way it works. And I'm sure a lot of those who pull for Memphis will be screaming today about how unfair it is.
Seems to me they're making an example of Memphis. Because you can't tell me that in all the years of NCAA basketball, Memphis is the first school to have someone else take a test for a player.
Speaking of making an example, it appears that may be happening to Bryce Brown at Tennessee
. I've read this story and I just have to shake my head on a lot of things. I understand why the NCAA has rules and regulations, but it'd be nice if they followed up on them in a timely manner. From my understanding, this investigation began months ago but they let Brown start practice for the fall and then pull this? I don't quite get it. Surely there has to be a way to check eligiblity of players before they set foot on the field or become part of a program.
I guess the good news is that if we find out now, we won't have to vacate any wins we might get this year.
Of course, there is a part of me that wondered if the NCAA hadn't been on such high alert for the Vols becuase of Lane Kiffin comitting a minor violation a day for the first few months he was coach, if this would be as big a deal as it is. I have a feeling that given how Kiffin acted in the early days, that we're going to see consequences down the road for years to come, no matter how clean the program may run.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 8/20/2009 12:45:00 PM