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The Memphis-Tennessee rivalry may be back on … that was quick

Jan 3, 2013, 9:00 PM EST

Josh Pastner

Remember all that talk about Memphis ending their rivalry with Tennessee?

We wrote about it this morning. We would have written about it again tomorrow. Memphis talk radio has been dominated by the subject the past couple of days.

Why was it ending?

Because Josh Pastner finally had an athletic director that sided with him, that believed playing Tennessee was not in the best interest of the Memphis basketball program.

Apparently not:

University of Memphis athletic director Tom Bowen said Thursday he and Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart are in discussions about continuing the basketball series between the programs. The contract ends with Friday night’s game in Knoxville.

“We are re-evaluating everything,” Bowen said, calling it “important” to play the Volunteers.

Bowen’s plan must have been a surprise to Tigers basketball coach Josh Pastner. On Wednesday, Pastner said that he and Bowen “both see eye to eye” on ending the Memphis-UT series.

In case that’s unclear, the Memphis AD let his head coach go on and on and on about how a series with an in-state rival was going to end only to go behind his back and try to renegotiate a deal with the school to keep them on the schedule. This isn’t the first time that’s happened, either.

Pastner, to his credit, has apparently bought in, saying on the Gary Parrish Show that he “believes in chain of command. I will always back my boss.” That’s smart. You don’t want to bash the guy that signs your paychecks publicly.

“I have probably evolved from that,” Pastner said of the theory that playing Tennessee could hurt the Tiger’s recruiting in the city of Memphis. “Early on I took the same stance as Calipari. The facts are that I’ve been a head coach here for four years. Two of my classes were top five in the country. The other two, we only needed to get a couple guys. … We’re recruiting at the very very highest level. I think through time, that’s evolved, and I don’t think it makes that much of a difference.”

“Recruiting’s cutthroat. You don’t want to give anyone any leg up.”

But you have to figure that next time, Pastner would appreciate a heads-up from his boss that he will be going over his head.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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