Memphis and Tennessee managed to turn a non-existent rivalry into a pretty decent mid-season showdown the last few years.Pastner has ‘no desire’ for Memphis to play Tennessee
But Tigers coach Josh Pastner would rather the game went away.
“I have no desire to play Tennessee,” Pastner said on WNML-AM 990, via Kyle Veazey of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. “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.”
“It’s a great game for the fans and the state, but as a head coach, it’s something that I’d rather play someone else,” Pastner said.
Not that he’s scared. He just would rather not give the Vols an opening to the fertile Memphis basketball talent. Why give the state’s big dog an edge?
Thing is, as Justin Young points out in his blog, Memphis has since seven players from the Memphis area since 2003. Tennessee has only signed two, and only Dane Bradshaw actually played for the Vols. If Bruce Pearl can’t make a dent in the Tigers in-town stronghold, should Pastner really be worried?
(If he’s worried about exposure, don’t play Duke or North Carolina or Kentucky. Those are the schools who could nab Memphis talent. Also, work on that awful offense. That would dissuade potential recruits as much as anything.)
The Tigers and Vols have played every season since 2005-06, with the Vols going 4-2 in those games. If Memphis ever did ditch the Vols, there’s an ideal school that could fill that schedule void.
Never got to see Memphis vs. Louisville in the ‘80s when it would’ve been at its peak. But I’m all for bringing it back as a regular series (they’re playing the next two seasons). Always room for another marquee non-conference showdown.
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