There is no program in the country that has more drama in putting together their schedule than Memphis.
It feels like the negotiation process for every single one of their home-and-home series would be well-documented on an episode of Jerry Springer.
Josh Pastner didn’t want to play Ole Miss in a basketball series. His boss wanted to, and his boss got his way. Pastner doesn’t want to play Tennessee in basketball, either. Back in January, he made that quite clear when he announced that Memphis would not be renewing their contract with the Vols. But that decision didn’t even last a day, as Tom Bowen, the Memphis AD, went over his head coach’s head and said that the two programs were in discussions to continue the series.
Those discussions reportedly came to an end on Wednesday, as Tennessee AD Dave Hart told the Knoxville News-Sentinel that the two schools have agreed in principle to a four-year series in hoops. It wouldn’t happen next season, but the rivalry could be renewed as soon as the 2014-2015 season.
But since this is Memphis basketball, it clearly can’t be that simple. The Commercial-Appeal reported yesterday that Memphis athletic officials are denying that there is any agreement in place. They want more football games to be played between the two schools.
The end game here?
Tennessee is probably going to end up using the appeal of playing the Vols in football every couple of years to convince Memphis to play them in hoops. Same as it ever was. Pastner never had a chance in this fight.
But maybe it’s time for Pastner and Bowen to start communicating a bit better. It’s not a good look for a coach when he doesn’t appear to have any control of his team’s schedule.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
With an 11-member setup the Sun Belt Conference has played a 20-game conference schedule the last couple of years, which may be seen as a positive when it comes to determining the regular season champion (home-and-home between every team). But for a conference that spans from North Carolina (Appalachian State) to Texas (UT-Arlington, Texas State) travel was far from easy in that setup.
And with Coastal Carolina joining next season, it was clear that the league needed to do something with its scheduling.
Thursday the Sun Belt members approved an 18-game conference schedule, which will begin with the 2016-17 season when the league consists of 12 members. Included in the agreement is the assignment of travel partners (similar to setups in the Pac-12 and Ivy League), and teams playing no more than three consecutive conference games on the road.
Schools will also be guaranteed at least five weekend home games during conference play, and there will be no more weekends in which teams play conference games both home and away (thus cutting down on travel). Obviously with the addition of Coastal Carolina the Sun Belt needed to make some changes in their scheduling, and this week the conference made the moves they needed to make.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.