Memphis is one of those programs that should be really good every year. It’s in a major basketball market where the Tigers are everyone’s favorites.
Yet the program keeps running into issues. Gene Bartow did a great job but left for Illinois and then UCLA.
Tony Yates resigned under pressure with NCAA allegations, Dana Kirk went to prison, Larry Finch was forced out, Tic Price was forced out over allegations of sexual impropriety, Johnny Jones was a one-year interim, John Calipari was brilliant but the school saw the 2007-08 season entirely vacated by the NCAA, Josh Pastner was erratic and showed some odd behavior before leaving for Georgia Tech, Tubby Smith was a disastrous fit and was fired after two seasons, after which Memphis hired Penny Hardaway.
Hardaway played for Finch and, like so many Tigers comes from Memphis. He’s enormously popular but he’s been having some hard times, mostly self-inflicted.
First there was the James Wiseman saga which was handled incredibly poorly. Then Hardaway pulled off a major recruiting coup with late commitments from Emoni Bates and Jalen Duren. He also hired Larry Brown and Rasheed Wallace, both of which seemed smart.
This year looked really promising.
Memphis is now 9-8 with losses to Tulane, East Carolina and ECU. In December though it turned out that Hardaway had not made sure that his players had all been vaccinated, which caused a number of problems, including canceling the Tennessee game as the Vols warmed up on the court.
In this week’s installment of the Memphis soap opera, after Memphis lost to FSU, Hardaway lashed out at reporters who asked him, perhaps unkindly, what the hell was going on in his program.
For the other recent revelation, it turns out that Wallace has no interest in being vaccinated and will now work remotely as more of a consultant than coach.
How long can this continue? Imagine if Shane Battier came back to coach Duke and completely crapped the bed. He’s idolized here but, as Sidney Lowe found out at NC State, there’s a limit even for the beloved.
Hardaway may not be there yet but the trend lines are not promising.
- Penny Hardaway takes aim at media, says depleted Memphis Tigers men’s basketball team playing hard despite losses
- Memphis coach Penny Hardaway apologizes a day after his profanity-filled tirade aimed at media
- Father of Emoni Bates seemingly throws shade at Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Memphis’ HC Penny Hardaway
- Penny Hardaway comments: Jay Bilas reacts to Memphis coach’s postgame tirade
- Penny Hardaway’s reign as Memphis Tigers coach has turned foul and disappointing