Take a big step with me here. Let’s make plenty of assumptions. Let’s assume Bruce Pearl isn’t as loyal as he’d want the Big Orange to think and just evaluate the purported offer on the table. Let’s assume he got his audience with Memphis higher-ups and the FedEx CEO. Let’s assume somewhere in East Memphis is a nice country club. You still with me?
WMC in Memphis is reporting U-Mem has offered BP a $21 Million dollar, 7-year deal.
How could he not take it?
You get to take a step down in competition. The SEC East sure as hell didn’t get any easier with the 2 highest-paid coaches in the game currently planning for the ’09-’10 tourney.
Memphis just won about 145 straight conference games, en route to consecutive top 2 seeds (read, a much easier path to a Final Four). And as my bud Smooth points out, Memphis is a basketball school. While UT is toiling in the land of never-been-past-the-sweet-16, Memphis just played for a National Championship 2 seasons ago.
And that was far from their first taste of success. The Tigers have banners for 3 Final Four appearances and 2 National Runners-up.
Hell, if not for having to live in or around Memphis, even I’d take that job, and I hate Tiger Blue.
So it’s settled then. Pearl to Memphis.
Now who’s his replacement on Rocky Top? Usually, I’d let 2SL take this one, but it’s my alma mater, and I want to take a first guess. Follow me to freedom.
Top Choices (realistic or otherwise):
Bobby Knight – qualifications understood, probably too old for this job, since it’s not a rebuilding job anymore.
Dana Altman – 11 straight postseason teams at Creighton. Briefly took the Arkansas job before returning.
Mike Anderson – UT finalist when both Pearl and Buzz Peterson were hired. Coached Missouri to a 3-seed and the Elite 8 this year. Knocked 1-seed Kentucky out of the NCAA’s in 2004 while at UAB.
Randy Lambert – guided Division III Maryville College (20 miles from Knoxville) to 11 straight NCAA tournaments and an Elite Eight in 1992.
Steve Lavin – sweet hair, great recruiting history, Elite Eight with UCLA in 1997, affordable.
Dane Bradshaw – Greatest Volunteer since Sam Houston.
Scott Drew – Has Baylor in the NIT Finals. Consecutive 20 win seasons. Brother of former first round draft pick and current Valparaiso guard Bryce Drew.
And finally… (drumroll)
TGC’s Choice: Ron Slay