A Penny For Memphis Troubles…..

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Penny Hardaway

2 years ago, I wrote an article about Memphis and Tubby Smith and the site almost crashed because of the attention that it received. Not the way I wanted and the intent wasn’t as malicious as some thought but never the less, it was taken as I was trying to give an ultimatum. Fast forward to now, wouldn’t it only befitting that I write another as it appears that current University of Memphis coach Tubby Smith could be on his way out with the news of a scheduled meeting tomorrow with administrators that just dropped about 2 hrs ago.

The details, you pretty much know already, Tubby getting possibly let go, yada yada, Penny a local legend on the cusp of taking over at a school that he rose to prominence in the early 90s. Two years later, fire Tubby? Just 2 years in?  The things your hear, he didn’t get to build his team, hey man, he was 21-12, it’s hard to win 21 games at the D1 level. It’s the players who left fault, you can’t lose 3 starters and expect it to be great the next year.Why are we not letting Tubby get the same time Josh did?  How do we know Penny can coach, I mean he’s just a high school coach and former AAU coach, what’s experience does he have? How do we know he can get James Wiseman at Memphis, he’s going to Kentucky right? It was already down before he got here, it’s Josh Pastner’s fault the program is where it is, the attendance was already dropping. I would say this to that, just because it appeared the program was declining in attendance, does it mean that it has to stay that way? How many excuses should be make for being finessed by Coach Smith and staff. Finessed is young vernacular for being “played”, ran game on. In my life time, I’ve never seen so many people openly saying, well see, Tubby can coach, we didn’t finish 9th, see I told you. Is it good to finish 5th in a year where let’s face it, wasn’t really strong in the AAC?

The truth, is it fair, maybe not but so is life and Tubby understands that, he’s been around the block more than a few times. Was it fair for him to leave the players he recruited at Texas Tech and “transfer” to Memphis for more money? Speaking of that, would that make him a quitter as he called transfers a few weeks ago? The players who left, well they just left, they quit on the program, it’s not Tubby’s fault they left. Isn’t that a bit hypocritical to say considering when players transferred in the Pastner era, it was all on the coach?

Should we feel bad for a guy who came in with a laissez-faire approach who will walk out with 10 million dollars? There is no way you could go back to Smith though, especially after the remarks by his attorney on Friday who blamed Penny for inability to land Memphis players by saying  “If you’ve got somebody that wants the job and they’re controlling most of the talent in the city, I’m not casting aspersions. I’ll let you draw conclusions.” How cheap is that to blame someone else for you lack of recruiting? Probably 1 cent, pun intended and how about that dig at the Memphis big wigs? He said they told Smith that Memphis would be in the Big 12? If conference was an issue, isn’t Texas Tech in the Big 12? Why not just stay there? What happened was this, you giving me 3 million, I must mean a lot to you guys, let me take that and oh, you giving my son a job as well, I’ll take it. Memphis went for it and well you already know. I could go into more details but we’ve watched that movie all weekend, we knows how it ends. The losses to USF and ECU stand out of course but hey we did beat Houston, they top 25 right? I mean that should count for something? After that huge win, you lose to a 1 win team in conference  who at the time  just had 8 wins total  and they beat you and not only did they beat you on the home floor, they embarrassed you by 20 plus for the worst loss in the programs history at the Fed Ex Forum. No disrespect to USF, it’s sunny and warm there but we shouldn’t lose to them especially like that, not Memphis.

Maybe the University Of Memphis is meeting with Coach Smith tomorrow to tell him that Penny is going to be added to his staff? We know that’s not going to happen because well, it’s far fetched now and it was far fetched last year when people thought that Penny should be on his staff at Memphis or that he would work under Smith. Bottom line, you just can’t lose 1.2 million in donations, 800k from the Grizzlies due to low attendance and expect for everything to stay the same. Friend of mine always tells me, it’s financial and it’s apart of it, not the only part but a huge part of it. Honestly, I don’t think he knew what he was doing when he took the job here, he definitely didn’t research it or do his due diligence on the culture of Memphis basketball. I think all his it takes time to build is okay for other programs but not  here because fans won’t go for that to long. Why should it take a long time when we have seen coaches and teams turn it around in 1-2 years, see his former school (Texas Tech) who will be in the tournament this upcoming week.

Why not give it to a person who understands what Memphis basketball really means to people here because he was apart of it and still is. Why not give it to a guy who could invigorate the whole fan base? A native son of Memphis  who can bring 4-5 star players back to Memphis? I know we think it’s just about possibly getting James Wiseman, what if we miss on him? You still have 2020, 2021, 2022 and so forth and Penny’s broad appeal would bring in talent nationally, not just locally. It would bring back the pride in the Tiger fans and judging from all the talk surrounding it, fans still care deeply. The hope that things are going to change as soon as next season arrives and that’s what’ fans want, just someone to believe in. How exciting would it be to have a guy who is one of the city’s own at the head of it’s basketball program? I think it would be unbelievable and it would fill the forum I think immediately. How much would all of that be worth? Just a Penny….