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Signing Day 2013: The Battle For Tennessee

state map tennesseeLooking at Wednesday’s signees — including junior college and prep school athletes — here’s a snapshot of the talent produced by the state of Tennessee in 2013 (as graded by Rivals.com):

 

5-stars = 2

4-stars = 7

3- stars = 17

Total 3+ stars = 26

 

Here’s where the state’s 10 highest-ranked players are headed:

 

Tennessee = 3

Ole Miss = 2

Florida State = 1

LSU = 1

UCLA = 1

Vanderbilt = 1

Chose Basketball = 1

 

 

Loyalty:  The state of Tennessee has been producing a greater number of prospects in recent years and more than four in ten of the high-end prospects will need to be kept at home.  Vanderbilt’s academic requirements place it in a slightly different category, but Tennessee must take care of the homefront if its to return to prominence.  The trouble is that Memphis is as much North Mississippi as it is West Tennessee… as evidenced by Ole Miss’ second-place finish on this list.

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Memphis’ Pastner Doesn’t Want To Play UT

Memphis coach Josh Pastner isn’t interested in scheduling Tennessee.  Or Ole Miss, Mississippi State or Arkansas for that matter.  But his boss sees things differently — at least when it comes to playing the Tigers’ cross-state rival.

“I have no desire to play Tennessee,” Pastner told Knoxville radio station WNML-AM/FM yesterday.  “I don’t think it does us any good.  I’m just being honest with you.  For us, it’s a game that, I don’t know why we play it, but we play it because the athletic director wants me to play it and he’s my boss and what he says goes.”

In the past, Tennessee has threatened to not schedule Memphis in football if the Tigers refused to schedule the Vols in hoops.  The Memphis football program needs the exposure and money that comes from playing UT in football.  And Tennessee needs the recruiting exposure in West Tennessee that playing the Tigers in hoops brings.

“(Athletic director RC Johnson) feels it’s great for the state of Tennessee,” Pastner said.  “A lot of people want it in the state of Tennessee, and so I understand that. … I’m OK with it.  Look, my athletic director, I think he’s the best.  I mean, the absolute best.  If he tells me to do something, I totally believe in chain of command.  He’s the boss.  If he told me to go play Ole Miss, Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi State and anyone else, I would do it, because he’s the boss.”

We get it, Josh, the AD is the boss.  For Mike Anderson and Arkansas — who also want to schedule Memphis — they now know who they need to woo.

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New Hog, Vol Coaches Prepare To Battle For Memphis

The jury is still out on young Memphis basketball coach Josh Pastner.  And that means the new head coaches at Arkansas and Tennessee will be working hard to build recruiting inroads into the Bluff City.

Mike Anderson — who came to Arkansas from Missouri — and Cuonzo Martin — who came to Tennessee from Missouri State — are sure to cross swords over Memphis prospects very soon.  For the Vols, they’ve long tried to put down ties in West Tennessee, but to no avail.  In the end, it’s still 391 miles from the Mississippi River to the Smokies.

It’s 318 miles from Beale Street to Fayetteville.  For the Hogs, Anderson might already be targeting Memphis.  A site covering University of Memphis sports reports that the Tigers will soon announce a home game with the Razorbacks… though no date has been announced and UA has not confirmed the matchup yet.

Tennessee will also be playing the Tigers at FedExForum next year. 

“Memphis is a great town and we’ve had some tremendous success,” Anderson said when asked about the Memphis area.  “You look at Todd Day, Corey Beck, those guys are pretty good players for us (in the 1990s).  There’s a good bloodline there and we’ll keep tapping into that.”

Day — who is now a prep coach in Memphis — says Anderson has been “a master” at recruiting West Tennessee in the past.  “He’s been doing it for a long time.”

The battle for Memphis is about to begin and the SEC’s two newest generals will be the guys matching wits.

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