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As Memphis Fights To Keep Schools Out Of Its Backyard, Hogs And Vols Should Sneak In

MemphisMemphis basketball coach Josh Pastner has made it clear — very clear, over and over — that he has no interest in playing SEC schools like Tennessee, Arkansas, Ole Miss or Mississippi State.  His reason?  He doesn’t want to give any of those schools a second’s access to the rich recruiting zone he enjoys in and around the Bluff City.

On Friday, Memphis will finish off its current home-and-home series with the Volunteers and Pastner has again said he doesn’t intend to kickstart it.  “We will not play Tennessee anymore as long as I’m the head coach and I’m doing my scheduling,” the young coach told The Knoxville News Sentinel.

The immediate response from Tennessee will be to blackball the Tigers in football.  At least that’s been the leverage used in the past to keep the hoops rivalry rolling.  But perhaps there’s another way for Tennessee — and Arkansas — to get into Memphis on a regular basis.

The city of Memphis owns the FedEx Forum.  Granted, mega-Tiger booster Fred Smith has his company’s name on the building, but it’s not his building.  It belongs to the city.  And if the city felt it could make money and bring in some tourists and get some television publicity on a yearly basis, it might be hard for Smith, Pastner and University of Memphis officials to block the city’s opportunities.

Between Wal-Mart, Pilot Travel Centers, Dish Network, and Tyson Foods, there are a lot of big boosters with big companies behind the Arkansas and Tennessee athletic programs.  If the Hogs and Vols truly want to have a presence in Memphis — and tick the Hell out of Pastner in the process — the schools should try to move their annual SEC basketball contest to the city.

If Wal-Mart, Pilot, Dish or Tyson Foods would step up as the corporate sponsor of the Arkansas-Tennessee basketball game, the city of Memphis would likely have an interest in hosting a “border war” type of showdown.  Get ESPN to throw it on during its “Rivalry Week” programming and it’s win-win for everyone.  Everyone but Pastner and his Tigers, that is.

Memphis would get an extra night of tourists coming into its bars, restaurants and hotels.  The city would also get free publicity and airtime on ESPN or one of its secondary properties.  And the city would make money by hosting the game itself.

Arkansas and Tennessee would get to play in front of Memphis-area recruits on a regular basis.  They would get exposure on national television for a primetime event.  They might also create a better rivalry with one another.

ESPN would get the kind of made-for-TV event that it loves.

The corporate sponsors would get added exposure, too.  And the owners of said properties might enjoy knowing that they’re helping their alma maters to recruit as well.

The only reason for Arkansas and Tennessee (or Ole Miss and MSU) not to move a yearly game to Memphis would be the loss of one game’s worth of home revenue every other year.  Considering the recruiting positives that could be gained, that might just be a small price to pay.

Especially if any or all of those programs got to show themselves off in Pastner’s hometown.

 


17 comments
RickJohnson
RickJohnson

Should do your research City of Memphis may physically own the Forum they have no control over it's operation. HOOPS Inc control operation and the responsibility of paying off the cost of building the Forum. Plus due to the agreement HOOPS has with the U of Memphis the Tigers have right of refusal for regular season game by college teams. 

BlindsideBlitz
BlindsideBlitz

For the foreseeable future the only way the SEC is going to play basketball in Memphis is in an NCAA tournament game.  The city of Memphis about a year ago when the SEC had it's men's basketball tournament up for bid submitted a bid to the SEC to host the tournament, but was passed up for Nashville, Atlanta, and New Orleans.  That hasn't gone over too well with folks in the Bluff City (local officials, business leaders, convention and visitors bureau, etc). This was a hot button topic in the local media and on sports talk radio at the time.  

 

As stated previously the U of Memphis' contract with the Grizzlies gives the Tigers the ability to veto any non UofM college basketball event at FedEx Forum other than the NCAA tournament.  If Arkansas and UT want to play a game in the Memphis area their best bet is to do what Ole Miss currently does and play at the 8,000 seat Desoto Civic Center in Southaven, MS.  

 

With that said UT coach Cuonzo Martin has come up with some creative ways of keeping a presence in Memphis.  Just last summer they held a week long UT sponsored basketball camp in Memphis that had a pretty good turn out.  Schools will still be able to recruit Memphis basketball talent even without playing Memphis in Memphis.  The Tigers can't take them all, but they do want to make sure they get elite home grown prospects.       

 

 

AaronB4Mizzou
AaronB4Mizzou

It's only about a 6 hour drive from Columbia, MO to Memphis, all on interstates.  Mizzou has Lawrence Bowers and an incoming freshmen from Memphis and Coach Haith has stated that they will recruit the area.  I like the idea of a double header, Mizzou Vs Alabama, UT, MS, or Mississippi State with the other schools squaring off.  I want Arkansas in Columbia.  Suitcase Mike needs to answer to the public.  I'm assuming there's no way FedEx allows this to happen. 

badbadhoggie
badbadhoggie

The heat is being turned up on Josh due to what many say is his underachieving teams since being hc with his highly touted recruiting classes...think he's getting a little nervous and doesn't really want to schedule any tough non conf games at home if he can get away with it....he says its not about tenn, ark or ole miss but he's obviously feeling the pressure having an average team with a weak schedule and still struggling to win most games...let him play his beloved Louisville along with tenn tech, autin pea etc at home and ignore the local rivalries and the fed ex forum will be a ghost town in the near future...not to mention without tenn, ole miss and others that wont play the tigers in football in the future, they may have to join a basketball only league and drop down to div 1aa in football with the big east fiasco they find themselves in!

ubeetiger
ubeetiger

Would love to see Mizzou play any other SEC team in Memphis. Being in Semo, and only 2 hours away would be great.    

jpark007
jpark007

 U.Memphis' primary agreement with Hoops, LP. (Memphis Grizzlies) for its 20 to 30 regular season-Conference Tournament  basketball games per year in the Forum gives it the first right to refuse any non-U. Memphis college basketball game contemplated at the (FEDEX) Forum which it/Josh will with certain exceptions (NCAA Regionals). You can thank Coach Cal for that little insert. Further, Hoops, LP's agreement with the City of Memphis and Shelby County gives it a non-competition covenant over every other public arena in the City and County so if you want to schedule any of the above, Ole Miss has the number for Southaven, MS.

WillieT
WillieT

Great Idea. Consider as well the new SEC Network that is in the works. This would be great content. Other schools could work up similar games. Think Mizzou vs Bama or Kentucky vs LSU all in the Bluff city, maybe even on the same weekend.

Thern
Thern

I completely agree. I was thinking about this this morning, but not necessarily with Arkansas (thought about  Ole Miss, but obviously their B'ball following is pretty poor, so Arkie would be better). I thought that UT could try to organize an early season tournament in Memphis too, and try to maintain a more regular presence in the west side of the state. It would have to be an attractive draw for some other national opponents, so I am not sure how well that would work. UT's absence from Memphis has hurt in football, too. I don't have any numbers to back this up, but before SEC expansion in the early 90's, UT and Ole Miss had an annual rivalry on the gridiron. With Ole Miss' proximity to Memphis, this kept UT in the local news on a more regular basis. Since the rivalry ended, it would seem that UT has had a much tougher time recruiting in Memphis. The Memphis/UT rivalry in football doesn't generate quite as much interest, even in Memphis. I think it's a case of out of sight, out of mind for UT.

razorlina
razorlina

Seems like a great idea.  I attended an Arkansas-Ole Miss game with my Grandfather at the Memphis Pyramid in the mid-90's.  Wonder if anyone as any insight as to why local SEC schools have not pursued this Memphis idea as of late? 

badbadhoggie
badbadhoggie

 @AaronB4Mizzou

 Suitcase Mike, you have to be joking?  UofA at columbia, kitty u sounds good, can the tigers not find their way back to Bud Walton, or are the merories of past games still to painfull?

AaronB4Mizzou
AaronB4Mizzou

On FedEx, unless they realize the obvious potential $ to be earned, despite what it could do to their favored son. 

RickJohnson
RickJohnson

@badbadhoggie Another top 11 just missed top 10 this year in attendance for Tiger basketball. Memphis has nothing to gain by giving the area SEC schools a game and everything to lose. Tigers on average plays more OOC tournament teams than any of the area SEC schools. Tigers can get a top 5 recruiting class each year with just the local talent. Talent area SEC schools wish they could gain access to. The fans of these school made their choice to follow out of town schools. So let them hit the road to see their games. Not the city of Memphis' job to provide them with access tot heir school. Each athlete that leaves town to attend another school is like a business leaving town. All notoriety and money they produce goes to a school outside of the city.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @jpark007 

 

As I wrote:  "And if the city felt it could make money and bring in some tourists and get some television publicity on a yearly basis, it might be hard for Smith, Pastner and University of Memphis officials to block the city’s opportunities."

 

Can a game be blocked?  Sure.  But not everyone in the city of Memphis is a Memphis basketball fan.  So if corporate sponsors and ESPN told Memphis city leaders that their city could make money and get extra exposure on national television, I believe there would be a plenty of business people in and around that town who'd be upset with anyone else who tried to nix their chance at making an extra buck.

 

Think the business owners on Beale Street, for example, would want two fanbases and ESPN cameras coming to town for an extra night?  Or would they rather pass on extra business because Josh Pastner is scared it could hurt his recruiting?

 

If I were Arkansas, Tennessee, Ole Miss or Mississippi State, I'd take some time to figure out a way to enter Memphis over Pastner's protests.

 

Thanks for reading the site,

John

AaronB4Mizzou
AaronB4Mizzou

 @badbadhoggie Arkansas will be dang lucky to beat Mizzou at Bud Walton.  Suitcase Mike is the name that Anderson is affectionately referred to in Columbia, due to his constant looking at other jobs and the way he sneaked out of town without facing anyone.  We're thankful for Anderson for pulling Mizzou out of the Quin Snyder fiasco, but not for the way he ended things and how he went about his job.  The man actually quit recruiting, he had no one, and I mean no one signed when he left, which is why Haith had to fill a significant amount of the roster with transfers.  That helped get the classes balanced again.  So, have the Pigs won a road game yet?  Trust me, Mizzou fans are really looking forward to whipping AR this season. 

RickJohnson
RickJohnson

@John at MrSEC @jpark007 Tigers have contract that will allow them to ban SEC schools from playing at forum. PLUS the school  agreed to take on the responsibility to pay any financial short coming in taxes generated in the tourism district surrounding the Liberty bowl which is being used to cover cost of up grading the stadium.  The city could find itself having to take on the financial responsibility for these upgrades themselves fi they tried to add an another game for two area SEC schools. Not to mention the stadium already host a regular season game between two out of town black colleges and would most likely have to cancel that game to make room for the SEC game. Do you really think the government of Memphis woudl cancel a game between two black colleges so OM, Ark, Tenn or Missouri can play a game in Memphis??????

badbadhoggie
badbadhoggie

 @AaronB4Mizzou

 I'm guessing you wer'nt calling him suitcase Mike when his bags were packed headed to Moo U now were ya...I would love to see the series between the hogs and Mo started back up again, anytime!

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