Tag Archives: Memphis

Tigers Let Down, Messed Around

You know that famous song by The Foundations?

The one at the end of There’s Something About Mary?

The “build me up” song?

Of course you know it. Everybody knows it.

Why do you build me up (build me up) Buttercup, baby
Just to let me down (let me down) and mess me around
And then worst of all (worst of all)….

And then worst of all, you blow a 17 point lead.

And then worst of all, you go into deep freeze offensively.

And then worst of all, your team leader and star Austin Nichols goes down with a gruesome lower leg injury.

And then worst of all, you fail to get back and adequately contest the last second shot after taking a lead with 7 seconds to go.

And then worst of all, you lose what could have been a huge momentum building win against a good (top 35 RPI) Temple team heading into the final month of the season.

And then worst of all, you go from maybe the most hopeful moment of the season to the darkest in a period of 91 minutes.

Sigh. 

The story can be summed up by two separate tweets, 91 minutes apart, from Tiger beat reporter Jason Smith:

First, the high:

And then, a mere 91 minutes later – in the aftermath of the crash:

If you haven’t already read about the game – here’s Smith’s game story in the CA.

Let’s hear from some of our friends:

Philosophic Phil:

  • The injury to Austin Nichols is a very good reminder of a few things. One, that Nichols’ long term health is the really important story in all this. The young man has a bright future ahead of him in the game of basketball and the news that his injury was not an ACL tear was a huge relief.
  • It’s also a reminder of why there’s so much pressure to redefine the concept of amateurism to reflect economic realities. Austin Nichols, and other stars of the college game, need insurance to guard against the economic effect of a serious injury. They need the advice of agents. And there’s an argument to be made that they need to be able to capitalize on their stardom as soon as possible.
Photo Courtesy of The Commercial Appeal.
Photo Courtesy of The Commercial Appeal.
  • If you’re adamantly against relaxing the rules on amateur athletes making money – I’d point you to the wall art in the Finch Center (left) – where Memphis Practices. It says “Do Your Job” – these guys work for the University and what they’re putting on the line becomes really clear in moments like Saturday’s – when Nichols went down. I’m not for paying college athletes a salary – but there are some other things that are being done that are long overdue.

Negative Nellie:

  • Where has this Shaq Goodwin been? This isn’t a negative comment per se – because Shaq was in full beast mode pulling down 23 rebounds. Yet it does highlight the obvious question: Why can’t he give this kind of effort more consistently? Maybe this will wake him up to do just that. Like Tarik Black before him – he has the physical tools to play at the next level if he can find the effort to match.
  • The Tigers (obviously) needed to do a much better job of getting back on defense to contest that last shot. To be fair, Temple just made a good play – but there was a lack of urgency on the part of Memphis’ guards, and it cost them. If you missed the play, I’ve copied the video at the end of this post.
  • If we’re gonna nit-pick, it might have been nice to have a time-out in that spot to set up your defense.

Realistic Ralph:

  • It’s really hard to imagine Memphis doing anything but struggling immensely without Austin Nichols available over the next few weeks.
  • The Tigers will now lack their best offensive and defensive player – and the one guy who’s been consistent all year in every way.
  • The season feels somewhat gone at this point. It will be a victory for Pastner to keep his guys fighting and to play .500 ball without Nichols in the lineup.   On a positive note – it will be chance for young guys like Trahson Burrell and Markel Crawford to play a ton of minutes. That’ll help the program going forward.

Here’s the final sequence, ICYMI:

 

 

Is Funding an on Campus Stadium at Memphis Realistic?

Most supporters of the University of Memphis football program are tired of the on-campus stadium debate. It’s very 2007. Tiger Lane is awesome, and there’s really not a bad seat in the house at the recently spruced up Liberty Bowl. Given that it’s just a few miles down Central Avenue, Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium is basically an on-campus stadium anyway.

But last week, The University of Memphis’ co-tenant at the Liberty Bowl indicated an unwillingness to accommodate the University’s desire to install additional chair back seats.

The difference of opinion – and need to reach consensus with co-tenants before making changes necessary for the success of its football program – highlights the drawback of the University not having its own, real on campus stadium. In light of the Memphis football program’s recently completed 10-3 season – a campaign which saw the Tigers capture the American Athletic Conference regular season championship and Miami Beach Bowl Championship – is now the time for the University’s athletic department to explore funding an on-campus stadium?

Much has been written and said over the past decade or so about the possibility of an on campus stadium for the UofM. The basic history is that at one point a feasibility study commissioned by the UofM revealed that building an on-campus stadium would be feasible – but the powers that be decided against it. In 2013, Interim UofM president Brad Martin indicated in an interview with Geoff Calkins that the on-campus stadium debate was dead. Martin shut down the idea. Martin and current University President David Rudd (who was Provost under Martin) have pretty much been in lockstep on these issues, and with the athletic department at UofM focused on a $40 million facilities project on south campus – it would seem the debate remains dead.

So it would be silly to think there’s going to be an all out push for an on campus stadium just because Liberty Bowl Game Executive Director Steve Ehrhart is being inflexible about some chair back seats.

On the other hand, the developments of the past year might have Rudd and UofM Athletic Director Tom Bowen reconsidering their position – and perhaps they should. When considering this issue – the primary consideration is simple: funding.

Three of Memphis’ American Athletic Conference counterparts have built new stadiums in recent years – UCF, Houston and Tulane. Additionally, Cincinnati – who is thought to be a possible Big XII expansion candidate – is currently funding an $86 million overhaul of their on campus facility, Nippert Stadium.

Memphis, meanwhile, can’t put some chair backs in without getting road blocked by a guy – Ehrhart – who inked a deal with the SEC and Big XII, thereby denying Memphis’ current conference a valuable affiliation. Ehrhart clearly doesn’t have the University’s interests in mind and why should he – it’s not his job.

That can’t make Bowen and Rudd happy.

Bowen, Rudd and supporters of the football program could and perhaps should at least be contemplating the funding possibilities for an on campus stadium. In examining how UofM’s current rivals have paid for their new stadiums, there are a few main sources of funding available that UofM must at least think about:

1. Student Fees. This was a big source of funding for the University of Houston in building a brand new stadium that opened in 2014. According to the Houston Chronicle:

The UH Student Government Association put a $45 per-semester, per-student fee increase to a student referendum, and it passed by a wide margin as 73.9 percent of the voting body approved the increase.

Given the fact that UofM’s enrollment is approximately 21,000, over a proejcted 20-year bond payoff period, such a student fee could theoretically raise approximately $37.8 million towards an on-campus stadium. After a 10-3 campaign that brought great excitement to the University, is there a better time for such a referendum?

2. Club Seats and Suite Sales. This was the primary source of funding for the University of Cincinnati. According to USA Today, Cincinnati sold rights to 18 suites which are scheduled to bring in $2 million per year over the course of a 20-year bond payoff. That’s another $40 million. Cincinnati’s club seats brought in another $2.5 million per year. Memphis could surely approach those numbers.

3. Naming Rights. International Paper Stadium? FedExStadium? $15 million over 10 years sound o.k.? That’s what Houston got for their stadium. Seems realistic.

4. Ticket Surcharges. Clearly, one of the primary reasons the powers that be at the UofM have been reluctant to pursue an on-campus stadium is because they’ve been tapping donors for other projects (FedExPark, Weight Room, new basketball facility, IPF, etc…)  a great deal of late. There’s only so many times you can go back to the well.

If an on-campus stadium were ever to become a reality for Memphis, the everyday fan is going to have to get involved where it counts – the checkbook. This could be done structurally through a ticket surcharge, or a seat license. Either way, let’s assume that the loyal 20k base of Tiger football fans – you know, the ones that showed up to all the cold weather games this year – would each be willing to pay $100 annually over a 20-year period. Let’s say this came in the form of ticket surcharges – this would account for another $40 million.

Taking these various funding streams together – one can realistically imagine the UofM being able to put together enough funding to finance a stadium project. Sure, it would take a ton of hard work, initiative, political will and courage. Until last week, such a project seemed unnecessary. After all, Rudd and Bowen have to be concerned with the south campus projects first, and also have to be accounting for the various structural changes to college athletics (see: cost of attendance increase) which will drastically alter the budget of their athletic department. They have plenty on their plate without having to worry about a giant stadium project.

And yet it’s also clear that the UofM needs to do everything within its power to position itself for the next wave of realignment – whenever it comes. If athletics is a priority, the UofM needs to keep investing – particularly in football. Realignment 101. Invest. In football.

If the average fans, and students, and corporate partners are all willing to chip in a little – and if their current home is occupied by by a co-tenant who is making their life and mission more difficult – don’t the powers that be at the UofM owe it to themselves to at least reconsider the idea of funding a new stadium?

 

 

Confessions of a Bandwagon Grizzlies Fan

Dear Grizzlies Franchise:

 

I need to come clean about some things.  I feel like our relationship has some definite potential right now, and accordingly I’d like to clear the air about some of the events that have transpired in the past. Before I get into all that, let me just say that (a) I watch or attend almost every playoff game, (b) I absolutely love Chris Wallace, and (c) I have a man crush on MIke Conley.

 

Nevertheless, I can’t escape the lurking notion that I’m a fraud – and the pressure and weight of some secrets has become difficult to tolerate. I feel in some ways the past has kept us stuck and so I’m hoping that after you read this, we’ll be able to move forward with a clean slate. See, the thing is, I’m kind of a bandwagon fan.  There, I said it.  Whew.  That felt good.  Wow, I really do feel better just owning it. Amazing.  I have a few more things to say – just in the way of explanation.  So here goes:

 

    1. I don’t watch every game.  Actually, I don’t watch most of the games,  and I flip around sometimes when I am watching.  LIke take today, for example.  I really did want to watch the Grizz – Cavs game.  After all, Lebron James vs. the Grizzlies is pretty epic.   But what happened was the Cowboys were on at the same time, and ya’ll were getting beat, and ya know….  I just flipped around some.  I feel terrible.  This actually happens a lot, especially if football or college basketball are on.  I want to want to watch all of every game.  I do love you guys a lot, but I mean….ya know…it’s just hard.  I’ll try to do better I promise.
    2. I gave up on Sidney Lowe almost immediately. I should have told you this a long time ago, because it’s been a while. This is really where our relationship first began to falter. I couldn’t even believe I gave up that quickly. Growing up in Memphis, I had longed for pro sports forever but I just wasn’t prepared for all that losing.  I was very much into you at first: I went to the first pre-season game, I watched the draft. I bought gear. I was genuinely pumped.  But the thing is, ya’ll really sucked – and the season was long – and it was so clear you weren’t going to be any good for a long time.  I went to some games and all, but I have to admit I stopped watching. In retrospect I can see that I was ashamed of myself for quitting. My disappointment in myself kept me away for a while. Please don’t be mad at me – I totally got behind Hubie Brown, who was freaking awesome by the way.
    3. I skipped the Marc Iavaroni era entirely.   According to Wikipedia, Iavaroni coached the team from 2007-2009. I missed that one completely. Please understand that during this time the Memphis Tigers were on the greatest run in program history and I lived outside of Memphis. That being said, I can’t sugarcoat this one – I was so checked out during this time period that ya’ll could have moved back to Vancouver and I might not have cared. Our relationship was really bad at this point and it was very much my fault.  But well, maybe not totally my fault – I mean,  I’m not trying to drag up the past but ya’ll did trade Kevin Love for OJ Mayo on draft night and draft Hasheem Thabeet and Donte Green. Sooooo let’s just say there was mutual fault in this situation and forget it.
    4. Because of my loyalty to the Memphis Tigers, I have resented you at times. I realize this is totally unreasonable and that on balance you’ve done way more to help the Memphis Tigers and move them forward than to hurt them in any way. But you have to understand something about timing. Shortly after you got here, my beloved Tigers were relegated to a version of Conference USA that was stripped of all their then-traditional rivals (Louisville, Cincinnati, Marquette). John Calipari had yet to really get the program rolling, and even after he did there was always the fear that he would leave and the program would slip. So out of fear and envy I resented your fancy marketing materials and your slick game presentations and your corporate resources and your permanent signage at FedExForum. You may or may not know this, but as a Memphis Tiger fan, I come pre-programmed with an inferiority complex – so playing 2nd fiddle to an NBA team just isn’t easy. That being said, I think most Memphis Tiger fans have come fully around to embrace your presence and just sort of blindly choose to believe it’s going to work out well for both of us whether there’s any empirical evidence to back that up or not.
    5. I don’t like some of your fans. I grew up in Memphis before it was a pro-town. I grew up in Memphis before there was a “cool” team to like and all sorts of “cool” ways to show how “cool” you are because you like them. The town was more fragmented because the allegiances ran to various college teams. So I’m just not used to all this brotherhood, camaraderie and catch phrase mania. As a result, it feels kind of fake and trendy to me….at best it’s foreign. While I certainly get that people are genuinely excited about all the success you’ve had, as I am – I could really do without the 20 year old floozies tweeting #wigsnatch and #gritgrind and talking about how much they love the Grizzlies because Marc is cute.  (Though I have to admit he’s a very good looking man.) I can’t escape the feeling that if you asked the same “fans” what a pick and roll is they’d probably tell you it’s a menu item at one of the trendy new restaurants in Overton Square.

 

There may be some other things that I remember in time – but these are the big ones. Feels good to come clean, really does.  Please know that I’ve been there from the beginning.  I went to an open practice in 2001 at the Pyramid and remember finding it surreal that one of my favorite former Orlando Magic players, Nick Anderson, was wearing a Memphis jersey (you didn’t think I remembered did you?).  I was stoked when Jerry West was hired, even watched the press conference on live TV.   I attended the press conference when you revealed the current uniform and logo.  I once trespassed into FedExForum while it was still being built on New Year’s eve 2004 to check out the progress of construction.   I’d like to think my Grizz fan resume is pretty decent.


In conclusion, please forgive my weakness and disloyalty- and let’s move forward together in a renewed spirit of partnership.

#gritgrind

#wigsnatch

#grizznation