Feb 7, 2012, 6:53 PM EDT
Memphis spent the last decade or so trying to join the Big East. Other BCS conferences were occasionally rumored, but it was always the Big East. It’s a basketball-rich league (Georgetown, UConn, Villanova) that added former Memphis rivals Louisville and Cincinnati in the mid-2000s. Makes sense.
Now it’s actually happening. Memphis will join the Big East starting with the 2013-14 season. Hoopheads often wondered how the Tigers would fare in a stronger conference – especially during John Calipari’s final four seasons. Now we’ll find out.
Josh Pastner might be a little nervous by the idea.
As Gary Parrish notes, the move is great for Big East hoops, Memphis hoops and fans overall. But the days of pushing around the rest of the league are over. They had been for a few years, but now they’re really over. And recruiting? The Tigers will be on ESPN far more often, but now Pastner’s vying for prospects against coaches like Jay Wright, Rick Pitino, JT III and the rest of the league. (Not having to compete with Syracuse, Pitt and West Virginia helps a little.)
Pastner, 34, is still learning the ropes as a coach. Memphis was his first job as a head coach and he’s only halfway through his third season. He already has proven himself as a more than capable recruiter, but this is a different league with higher stakes. It’s almost like the dream of joining another league loomed for so long, it seemed like it might never happen.
Still, Pastner might be the least of Memphis’ worries compared to its wreck of a football program.
Memphis is kinda like Robert Redford in “The Candidate.” What now? Were we really prepared for this possibility? (Political movie aside: Why “The Ides of March” didn’t get more acclaim last fall is beyond me. Great flick.)
Memphis can handle the move. It has the financial resources and Pastner’s a tireless worker. But will it thrive? That’s the big question.
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.
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