I don’t have a lot of news today so I’m going to do things a little differently. I’m going to hold a Q&A, answering a couple of questions I’ve been asked recently, then I will do the lunch series and share what news I have.
Did you file for unemployment after you were laid off?
No. Let me explain my philosophy on that.
I believe in letting the right job come to me. That takes some time. I read a lot of job descriptions and immediately can tell they’re not a good fit. I don’t want to waste time applying for those. But when you’re receiving unemployment benefits, you have to. What if one of those resulted in an offer? I could end up somewhere I didn’t like, and there’s nothing worse than being miserable 40 hours a week.
Also, while I was job hunting there tended to be 1-2 days a week when I just said, “screw this, I don’t feel like dealing with this today” and went to Bardog. I would have felt terrible about doing that if I had been receiving government money.
Not that there’s anything wrong with unemployment benefits. They are a necessary and valuable safety net. It’s just that not tapping into them gave me options.
What’s your take on the possibility of Penny Hardaway replacing Tubby Smith as head coach of Memphis Tigers men’s basketball?
I’ve done a total 180 on this. I used to think this was a really stupid idea. Now I am for it. Let me explain why.
I want to see my friends who bartend on Beale Street make bank before and after Tiger games. I want to see my friends who own Majestic Grille, Kooky Canuck, Silly Goose, Blind Bear, etc. prosper on Tiger game nights. That’s not going to happen if the Tigers are drawing 1500 fans to an 18,000 seat arena.
I want to see Max prosper because his sports bar is packed to the gills with people who wouldn’t dare miss a Tigers away game on TV. That’s not going to happen with Memphis fielding teams for whom “might get invited to the NIT” is considered a happy ending to the season.
Tubby is not going to turn around the attendance problem. Also, I don’t see anyone with head coaching experience at a major basketball program wanting to come here and inherit this attendance mess. Penny, on the other hand, will sell tickets. He will put butts in seats. My friends and their businesses will prosper with Penny in the coaching box. The U of M is not likely to miss out on a payday from the Grizzlies for failure to meet attendance milestones with Penny as HC.
I believe Penny would recruit as well as Josh Pastner did. He has connections to AAU programs all over the country, so he already knows the kids and they know him. They also know they have a better chance of getting to the NBA if they follow the guidance of someone who has been there and was a star there. So yeah, I can see Hardaway reeling in 3-, 4-, and maybe even 5-star recruits, players on the level of Joe Jackson and Shaq Goodwin and Chris Crawford. Based on raw talent alone, even if it turns out Penny can’t coach worth a lick, that should get Memphis in the 21-23 win range.
I also think Penny’s presence might allow Memphis to strengthen its nonconference schedule a bit. Perhaps we could replace Samford with one of the better A-10 schools on the December schedule.
I also think Penny is smart and self-aware enough to realize the aspects of coaching in which he is deficient, where many coaches are not, and he would take steps to cover those deficiencies with strong assistant coaches. If he can get someone like Larry Brown who has won NCAA and NBA titles to be lead assistant and be the X’s and O’s guy, that’s awesome. (I’d want the compliance office to keep Brown on an extremely short leash, though. By the way, that’s another advantage to Penny. You know he would run a clean program. And he knows AAU well so shady AAU figures would not be able to push him around.)
Do I think Penny could coach a team to 27-8, runner-up in the American Conference, and a Sweet 16 appearance in three years’ time? Not sure. But can you name me any other coach who could do it who would reasonably want to come here? And do you seriously think Tubby would do it if given three more years?
I have to say that I do hate this for Tubby. He is a genuinely good man. He just didn’t connect in a deep way with Memphians and Memphis players the way Dana Kirk, Larry Finch, and (I hate to say it) John Calipari did. I think he wanted to, but he just didn’t know how to do that while staying true to his systems and values. I think it’s time to pay him $9 million and let him move on. Tubby has a great legacy and more years at Memphis would just tarnish that legacy.
The Perjorie T. Roll Lunch Series
I didn’t know if I’d have time to fit in an installment of the lunch series yesterday, but then I remembered that Court House Deli, practically downstairs from me, opens at 11, plenty of time to get lunch before my 12:15 haircut appointment.
Court House is a place I never think to blog about, because I eat there so often that I take it for granted. However, this is a farewell tour of my favorite lunch spots, and Court House more than qualifies to be a stop. They have five Cajun soups – crawfish etoufee, gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, and Cajun chili. They also have great burgers, the patties prepared in advance to get you in and out of there quickly. They have sandwiches and salads as well, and chips and brownies. I ordered the red beans and rice to take home. I always get it “fully loaded,” topped with cheese, onions, and jalapenos.
Note: The soup can in the background was not part of the purchase; it’s just the only suitable-height object I could find for the troll to stand on. Thankfully, the background blurred so you can’t tell how bad I need to vacuum.
The fully loaded red beans & rice is comfort food. Not as snazzy as dining across the street at Felicia’s but it isn’t supposed to be. Inexpensive, filling, good, and you can get in and out quickly if you’re on a lunch break.
My troll normally likes foods that are the same color as her hair, but jalapenos are an exception, and therefore she wouldn’t touch with the red beans and rice. However, the red beans and rice come with a side of troll-sized oyster crackers.
If you don’t want your oyster crackers, one thing you can do is to take them over to Court Square and set them free, to be enjoyed by squirrels and pigeons.
“Fully loaded” is good with the Cajun chili too.
It amazes me how many Downtowners have never been to Court House Deli. You’re missing out! It’s on the Main Street Mall between Madison and Monroe, and its hours are 11-3 Monday-Friday.
On to the news…
Let’s go Tigers! #5 Memphis upset #4 Tulsa yesterday to advance to the semifinals of the AAC tournament today. The Tigers play top-seeded Cincinnati. Not only is a trip to the final round on the line, but probably an NIT berth and Tubby’s job are as well. The game will be on CBS as noon.
Over in SEC action, my Arkansas Razorbacks upset higher-seeded Florida to advance to the semis today. They host Tennessee at 2 on ESPN. The Hogs hold a regular-season overtime win against the Vols, and nothing would be sweeter than to send the SEC’s douchiest team packing from the conference tournament while possibly also taking away their 3 seed in the NCAAs. I guess Max’s will have one less customer dressed as an orange Bozo the Clown than most years… oh well at least we can turn on Fox News if we want to see an orange Bozo the Clown.
The Grizzlies lost their 16th straight game last night.
Fleet Foxes play the Cannon Center tonight at 8.
Today is Mario Day and for the next week you can turn Google Maps into Mario Kart.
I got an email yesterday that made me smile. Wouldn’t be prudent to say more, though.
That’s it for now. With my “DAWG” John D enjoying some time in Portland, I am going to skip Bardog today and lead off at D-RANKS with B-RAD at Blind Bear. Back tomorrow with more news.