Elitist Jerk Classics: “Big East extending invite to Memphis… as well as the entire rest of the NCAA.”

Editor’s Note: The following is a re-post from a while back. We’ll be posting a couple of these every weekend as a way of letting a new audience see some great posts they might have missed.

Big East commish John Marinnato at a recent pres conference

Big East commish John Marinatto at a recent press conference

The Memphis hiring of former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese this week acted as a catalyst for the biggest conference realignment in the history of collegiate athletics. Tranghese was hired by Memphis Athletic Director R.C. Johnson in an attempt to get their foot in the door of one of the major conferences.

“[Tranghese's] role is to help us and advise us,” Johnson said. “He asked me: ‘What’s my charge?’ I said, ‘There are six BCS conferences. Just get us in one.’”

After Memphis’ hiring of Tranghese, it was only a matter of minutes before Johnson got a phone call from current Big East commissioner John Marinatto.

“I thought that Mike Tranghese pulled a couple of strings to get us an invite so quickly,” said Johnson,”but it turns out the Big East is actually in the middle of a massive expansion project.”

Upon further investigation, I discovered that Commissioner Marinatto has developed an addiction to getting as many teams as possible from the Big East into the NCAA tournament.

“It’s the first thing I think about before falling asleep at night, and it’s the the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning” said Marinatto. “Being the best basketball conference is pretty cut and dry — you have to get the most teams into the tournament. It’s that simple.”

When asked what other teams he had considered for invites, Marinatto retorted with an unexpected three word phrase. “All of them.”

Before my jaw could hit the floor, Marinatto elaborated. “We’re looking to add every team currently in Division I — including teams that are currently in other major conferences. If everything goes according to plan, the Big East will be a 344 team conference in 2010.

When I probed him about the possibility of diluting the conference with below average teams, Marinatto butted in before I could even finish the question. “In the Big East, we accept nothing less than excellence. It’s simple math — more teams in the conference equals more teams in the dance. That’s what we’re about here… being the best.”

In 2009, the Big East got 7 out of its 16 teams — roughly 44% of the conference. If the Big East actually admitted the entire NCAA, the best it could hope to do is roughly 19% of the conference in the tournament. “You’re looking at this all wrong,” Marinatto said. “If we got 65 teams into the 2010 tournament, that’s nearly 10 times the amount we had in 2009. We’d be 10 times better than the 2009 version of the conference. If we were the best conference in 2009, and we improve ourselves 10 fold, how could any of the other conferences hope to compete?”

“There wouldn’t be any other conferences,” I responded. “You’d be the best by default.”

“That’s capitalism, bitch.”

Bledsoe’s Transcript Leaked By An Opposing Coach?

One blogger has sources that seem to think so. Matt Jones posted the following tonight on KSR:

A source within the media tells me that a College Assistant Coach leaked Bledsoe’s transcripts to multiple media outlets, including his own.

While the Mr. Jones (and Me) won’t give us any names, he does narrow it down a bit.

However I dont believe I have enough solid information to put the name out there. Suffice to say that the number of suspects of who it could be is quite small. Eric Bledsoe’s Junior year transcripts were given to only three schools, Florida, Kentucky and Memphis.

If you have a vivid imagination (and your mom tells me that you do), then it won’t be too hard for you to fill in the blanks of the men in question.

If hard evidence comes out that a particular coach released Bledsoe’s transcripts, then you would have to think that coach may be finding another line of work.

Will that hard evidence surface? I doubt it. Like most college sports scandals this one is likely to have a greater impact on your friendly neighborhood message board than anywhere else.

Nevertheless, it has to be a welcomed shift from internet prey to predator for UK fans.

What to make of the early college basketball season

If you are a dedicated jerk like the social misfits who write for this site, then you love college basketball. The season is very young, yet we’ve seen top team after top team struggle against “inferior” opponents. Do we categorize these early season woes as nothing more than talented teams not realizing potential or is it more? Is it parity?

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On Tuesday we saw top-ranked Kansas go down to the wire with a less-talented Memphis squad just after the second-ranked Michigan State Spartans battled an also down Gonzaga Bulldogs for the entire game. The Kentucky Wildcats, a top five team, struggled to win twice this week against mid-majors. On Monday, the ‘Cats needed a game-winning shot from freshman John Wall to beat Miami (Ohio) before Thursday’s game against Sam Houston State which they won by 10, 102-92.

Also on Thursday, Final Four and Big East favorite Villanova defeated uber-Cinderella George Mason 69-68 in Puerto Rico. We all remember George Mason’s run in 2006 when it beat a talent-laden UConn team in the regional finals for a birth in the Final Four, but that feat may never be replicated. And speaking of Connecticut, they struggled to put away Hofstra early in the week as well.

I could go on listing close games by the best teams this season, but it’s futile. In the end, it’s college basketball where anything can happen. The most talented teams are never on their A game in November. However, we here at EJSIC would like to know what you think of the early season, America. Please vote in our poll below and feel free to leave any additional comments in the section provided.

Previewing the Hall of Fame Showcase

College hoops fans are salivating at the mouth with ESPN’s 24 hours of college basketball. Perhaps the crowning moment is the Hall of Fame Showcase on Tuesday night when basketball junkies get their first tastes of nationally-recognized teams playing one another.

Up to this point in the season, it’s been cupcake city for the top teams in the country. In St. Louis, fans will be treated to a double header of Louisville vs. Arkansas and Memphis vs. Kansas.

Louisville vs. Arkansas 7:30 p.m. ET ESPN2:

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Long off-season for Rick Pitino

The Cardinals are playing their first game of the season after a tumultuous off-season in which team leader Terrence Williams defected to the NBA and head coach Rick Pitino battled questions concerning his character after news broke about a past extra-marital relationship. Likewise, Arkansas had its own off-the-court issues which resulted in five players being suspended indefinitely including starting point guard Courtney Fortson.

The Cardinals will rely on a triumvirate of returning players to guide their team: PF Samardo Samuels, PG Edgar Sosa, and SG Jerry Smith. The Razorbacks will hope for big games from PF Michael Washington and SG Rotnei Clark who set a record in their opening game by going 13 of 17 from three point land.

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Arkansas coach John Pelphrey

Another interesting sub-plot in this battle involves the coaches. Arkansas coach John Pelphrey played for Rick Pitino at Kentucky in the early 1990s and was an instrumental piece in the Wildcat’s return to success under Pitino. In the end, the 22nd ranked Cardinals have too much depth for Arkansas to overcome. Expect a competitive game early with Louisville gradually pulling away in the end.

Memphis vs. Kansas 10:00 p.m. ET ESPN:

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Last year's national coach of the year Bill Self

The preseason number one Jayhawks will headline the Hall of Fame Showcase when they play the Memphis Tigers in what is a rematch of the 2008 championship game. The situations surrounding the two teams are vastly different now. Memphis is undergoing a transition from John Calipari to a rookie head coach, Josh Pastner. Bill Self leads arguably the most loaded team in the country which returned five starters from last season as well as adding sensational freshmen Xavier Henry (former Memphis commit), Elijah Johnson, and Thomas Robinson.

These two programs provided one of the most competitive championship games in history, but now one has to wonder how Memphis will fare in this rematch? The Tigers have a solid starting five, but the bench and front court are extremely thin which doesn’t bode well for a match-up against the talent-laden Jayhawks.

The Jayhawks will use its team depth to their advantage. Self’s teams are known for playing great defense and one shouldn’t expect any difference with this team. Where Kansas can punish Memphis the most is the front court. Memphis will rely on a senior in Pierre Henderson-Niles, who has never logged significant minutes but did lose substantial weight in the off-season in order to play more, and junior college transfer Will Coleman. Coleman is an athletic freak, but he’s had problems adjusting to the energy and level of play needed to compete in Division I.

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Rookie head coach Josh Pastner

Like the first game, you can expect a relatively competitive match early on, but Kansas should eventually pull away. Many eyes are sure to be on Memphis coach Josh Pastner as well, though. He’s making his national TV debut after creating waves in the recruiting world this past week.

College basketball is a game of upsets so maybe we see one tonight despite what we all expect (#5 Kentucky nearly lost to Miami Ohio last night). Very rarely do ranked teams like Kansas and Louisville play teams of the quality Memphis and Arkansas possess this early. Tune in, it should make for some entertaining basketball.

EJSIC College Basketball Preview Series: Memphis

Trivia: Name the University of Memphis’ basketball coach?

Got it yet? Need more time?

His name is Josh Pastner. He’s thirty-two years old and he’s in his first season ever as a coach of a division one school. Raise an e-hand out there in the blogosphere if you have more experience than Coach Paz? (I know a hundred hands are going up right now because no one thinks they know more about sports than the average Joe, and I’m not saying that to be a jerk)
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More trivia: Did you know Memphis Athletic Director R.C. “Cola” Johnson (sorry, couldn’t resist) keeps a piece of paper in his pocket at all times with the names of five replacement coaches if the need ever arises? Odds that Josh Pastner’s name was on that list prior to being hired: 1 in 500.

Okay, I don’t intend to bash this hire. In fact, I like it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a little fun. Pastner has some question marks and so do his 2009-2010 Tigers. John Calipari left for Kentucky and like every good carpetbagger; he took the silverware (i.e. Memphis’ number one recruiting class).
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A depleted roster means the Tigers will be down this year in comparison to the last four, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore them or expect them to drift away. In fact, the Tigers play a good non-conference schedule which includes an early season test against the championship-favorites the Kansas Jayhawks (neutral site game in St. Louis), trips to UMass and Syracuse, and home games with the hated Tennessee Volunteers and the Gonzaga Bulldogs. So, there are chances for Pastner’s crew to pull an upset or two and gain some national recognition.

Where Memphis may fade from the spotlight this season is during the conference schedule. The Tigers are not the clear-cut favorites to win CUSA, but they will be one of the top three or four contenders for the automatic bid.
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I won’t put any added pressure on the new staff by making any predictions. However, I do get positive vibes from the fan base which will help make the season easier to weather. They all seem understand that this year is about gaining momentum for the next, when Pastner’s already heralded recruiting class will step on campus.

If the Tigers secure the automatic bid or even an at-large to the NCAA Tournament, the season is a success. It doesn’t sound like much of a season, but it’s all we can really put on Memphis and Pastner’s shoulders right now. They’re extremely thin in the front court and one key injury anywhere could be devastating.

Projected starting lineup:

PG Elliot Williams (So)
SG Roburt Sallie (Jr)
SF Doneal Mack (Sr)
PF Wesley Witherspoon (So)
C Pierre Henderson-Niles (Sr)

Key Reserves:

PG/SG Willie Kemp (Sr)
SG Drew Barham (Fr)
C Will Coleman (Jr, JUCO)
PF D.J. Stephens (Fr)

More information (schedule, full roster, etc.) can be found here.

Note: I did not include any projections of record or post-season play because it is entirely too early for this particular team. The projected starting lineup comes from reading team reports in the Memphis based Commercial Appeal. Everything else is a giant question mark. Talent is still left from the Calipari area, but depth is a main concern.

“Wildcat Coal Lodge” It Is

Not much of a mascot if you ask me.

Not much of a mascot if you ask me.

You may have heard recently about the Friends of Coal donating $7 Million to build a new Wildcat Lodge (most likely from McGee’s secret crush Rachel Maddow) on the campus of the University of Kentucky. In exchange for this generous gift, all the kindly corporate conglomerate asked for in return was that the university call the place “Wildcat Coal Lodge”.

Well, it turns out that money really can buy almost anything, as the UK board of trustees has approved the name change. Joe B. Hall B. Damned.

Anyway, this got me to thinking… What are some other possible sponsorship arrangements for our beloved college sports programs’ facilities? Here are a few that come to mind.

Porcini’s Italian Cardinal Cafeteria – University of Louisville students would get all the “Aged Red Snapper stuffed with Italian Sausage” they could handle and Porcini’s could move from their current “soiled” location to a state of the art facility on campus. It might be a good idea to enforce a “curfew” at the location for the basketball staff, though.

U-Haul Tiger Gym - With the comings and goings recently at the University of Memphis, it would seem fitting for U-Haul to sponsor the existing Larry O. Finch Gym. The name even works long term because it’s only a matter of time until Pastner is scouting real estate.

Maker’s Mark Aggie Center - Considering the copious amounts of Maker’s Mark Bourbon that former A&M coach Billy Gillispie bought and drank during his time at Kentucky, it’s only fair that the company give back to the school that sent him to their home state by buying the naming rights to the new Cox-McFerrin Center. Since he’s obviously not busy these days, they could even prop Billy up against a wall next to the court, so everyone could experience the authentic Maker’s Mark aroma.

James Cameron Indoor Stadium - With the recent revelation of the Duke Basketball program’s obvious fondness for his work and the serendipitous congruency to the existing name,  James Cameron Indoor Stadium would be a match made in heaven (or Hell I guess). Just think… The production values for Duke’s homo-erotic Midnight Madness videos could reach Oscar worthy levels with a director like James Cameron at the helm. They would Terminate the competition. The positive response from the gay community would reach Titanic proportio… eh… that’s enough of that…

So what do you say? What possible program pairings do you see on the horizon? Let us know your ideas in the comments section.