Josh Pastner says UT game vs. Memphis a bad fit

When Josh Pastner appeared on a Knoxville radio station Monday, he entertained the typical mid-July questions: recruiting, the one-and-done rule and the prospects of his upcoming team.

But when asked about playing Tennessee, the Memphis basketball coach didn't offer a fence-straddling answer.

"I have no desire to play Tennessee," Pastner told hosts Josh Ward and Will West on The Sports Animal. "I don't think it does us any good. I'm just being honest with you. For us, it's a game that, I don't know why we play it, but we play it because the athletic director wants me to play it and he's my boss and what he says goes."

Reached later, Pastner said he hasn't hidden from his feelings, which he said are rooted in recruiting and aren't personal. To Pastner, it's simple: He doesn't consider Knoxville a fertile recruiting ground, so why give Tennessee exposure in Memphis, a place where the Vols actively recruit players.

But he reiterated that he understood why fans enjoyed the game.

"It's a great game for the fans and the state, but as a head coach, it's something that I'd rather play someone else," Pastner said.

He said that he and Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson have discussed how he feels about the series, which has long been tied into the two schools' attitudes about whether they want to play football against each other. The News Sentinel reported in January that a 10-game, 20-year football contract between the schools expires in 2017.

"(Johnson) feels it's great for the state of Tennessee," Pastner told the radio station. "A lot of people want it in the state of Tennessee, and so I understand that. I'm OK with it. Look, my athletic director, I think he's the best. I mean, the absolute best. If he tells me to do something, I totally believe in chain of command. He's the boss. If he told me to go play Ole Miss, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi State and anyone else, I would do it, because he's the boss."

Memphis hasn’t scheduled Ole Miss since 2006, Arkansas since 2003 or Mississippi State since 1984.

After a three-year hiatus, the Vols and Tigers have played every season since 2005-06. The Vols visit FedExForum this season. Pastner said the Tigers would visit Knoxville in 2012-13 but wasn’t sure about future games.

© 2011 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 55

Ironcity writes:

Its a great game for UT fans because we kick that A%% every year. I can understand why Pastner is scared, his job is on the line and nothing like losing to the only good team on the schedule to get yourself fired.

LJS1984 writes:

It's especially bad if you are involved with Tiger High.

skyhawk836 writes:

in response to JBVols1698:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Correct.
Why criticize him for speaking honestly?

VolsToTheWall writes:

so is his message to his players, we only play colleges in cities where i think we can get kids to replace you?

Slystone writes:

in response to Ironcity:

Its a great game for UT fans because we kick that A%% every year. I can understand why Pastner is scared, his job is on the line and nothing like losing to the only good team on the schedule to get yourself fired.

I love the series, but the Tigers have Louisville back on the schedule and that's a more important game in the eyes of most Tiger fans than UT -v- UM. Louisville carries more pedigree than UT in Hoops.

Vols4Ever writes:

Another case for R.C. Johnson quitting his failure of leadership as the A.D. of the U. of M. Calipari is only one example of his malfeasance. He has totally mortgaged relevance in football and the basketball program shows his lack of control. Pastner might provide the only semblance of student athletes on the hardwood in decades.

VOODOOley-2011 (Inactive) writes:

Typical "Chicken" comment from Memphis State.. They don't like getting their A.. beat by the Big Orange, that's what it's really all about.

Vol4EVA writes:

This goes much deeper than even Pastner realizes. Memphis State begged for years for this game, especially back in the early 80's when they were on a great run. Simply put, over the decades the series just has not worked out the way the Memphis folks had wanted. They thought playing the Vols in basketball would even the score because Tennessee has always dominated them in football. Turns out the Big Orange has had the upper hand in basketball as well. Check the series, every game of any significance, Tennessee has won (first game in the series in Knoxville, first game in Memphis, the NIT game in Memphis, the big game a couple of years ago in Memphis when they were undefeated, and so on) and the Vols lead the series. Pastner is right; Tennessee beating Memphis in basketball does them no good and only helps Tennessee get some recruiting in-roads into West Tennessee. But remember this, Memphis is the one that begged to play UT in basketball and now all these years later are simply tired of it not working out the way they envisioned. Go Big Orange....I'll hang up and listen to your comments...

iowavol writes:

Calipari said the same thing four years ago. What they are not saying is it's a risk reward equation. Do you think every other school they play away from Memphis is a hotbed for recruiting - no. But they probably don't risk losing as much as they do to Tennessee on their home court. That's the exposure he wants to avoid.

Couchdummy writes:

As a Tenn fan (and a general sports fan), I appreciate Coach Pastner's honest answer. It is embarrassing when GVX commenters are so intellectually impaired that they cannot appreciate completely candid answers from opposing coaches. It is even more embarrassing when these commenters respond with brash and bragging comments berating the coach and his team.

kthoma14 writes:

in response to osu2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

As an OSU fan I wod think 1) you would have enough sense at this juncture in your program to keep your mouth shut (but as we have recently seen OSU is not the brightest bunch) and 2) based on your record with SEC football (including UT beating that @## down in Florida when you were over-ranked ---as usual--- 2nd) that you would go to another conference/team's site to post.

thevoice writes:

It sounds like an honest answer, but it's not. The overwhelming reason Pastner doesn't want to play UT is not because of recruiting, it's because he's fearful of loosing. And the reason his AD wants to play UT? It adds $1+ million to his revenue every year, probably more than any football game they play.

kthoma14 writes:

in response to osu2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

As an OSU fan I would think 1) you would have enough sense at this juncture in your program to keep your mouth shut (but as we have recently seen OSU is not the brightest bunch) and 2) based on your record with SEC football (including UT beating that @## down in Florida when you were over-ranked ---as usual--- 2nd) that you would go to another conference/team's site to post.

kthoma14 writes:

in response to kthoma14:

As an OSU fan I wod think 1) you would have enough sense at this juncture in your program to keep your mouth shut (but as we have recently seen OSU is not the brightest bunch) and 2) based on your record with SEC football (including UT beating that @## down in Florida when you were over-ranked ---as usual--- 2nd) that you would go to another conference/team's site to post.

I corrected the "would" below---typing in phone.

kthoma14 writes:

in response to kthoma14:

I corrected the "would" below---typing in phone.

"On" phone! I knew I shouldn't have posted, but I can't stand OSU. He!!, I can't stand Ohio! Always clogging the interstate driving 50 in the fast lane!

stevefrommemphis writes:

in response to Vols4Ever:

Another case for R.C. Johnson quitting his failure of leadership as the A.D. of the U. of M. Calipari is only one example of his malfeasance. He has totally mortgaged relevance in football and the basketball program shows his lack of control. Pastner might provide the only semblance of student athletes on the hardwood in decades.

Don't suggest that the one Memphians call "Helmet Hair" on the Commercial Appeal message boards quit Memphis so long as the Tennessee A.D. job is open! The people in Knoxville have such a long track record of pitiful results from administrative hires that they just might hire him. If somebody can confirm that R.C. Johnson would be considered a candidate, let me know and I'll submit my resume.

I've said for many years that Tennessee has nothing to gain and everything to lose from playing Memphis State in any sport, especially football, and that statement still stands. Drop Memphis.

dvols writes:

what say you Coach Cuanzo?

westknoxrepub writes:

You play it because the last time you stopped, we stopped playing you in football.

TRUEvolsBLEEDorangeFOREVER writes:

Who cares about Memphis VS TN...Drae Bowles committed to TN! He is bad arse!!!! Being from around Jackson I know first hand what this guy does...Catch passes for TDS BABY!!! GBO!

brod writes:

tennessee needs to do whatever it takes to strengthen their ground in memphis recruiting. if it means play this game, then play it. if the rivalry with memphis is hurting their recruiting in memphis, then don't play the game.

alfrizzle097 writes:

I would think especially in the next year or two it will be a worthless game for Memphis. Tennessee will be perceived as a mid-range to poor major conference team. Beating UT won't get much credit for Memphis if UT performs to projections, and losing to UT will certainly hurt them.

Memphis plays the game for revenue related reasons. Unfortunately, that won't keep the AD from firing his coach when the fans are upset about it.

UTByrd writes:

in response to JBVols1698:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Very well put.

KCHS63 writes:

in response to JBVols1698:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hate to tell a Memphis native this, but........a graduate of Knoxville Catholic High School was Memphis' starting point guard for 3 or 4 years. Poor ole Knoxville can still play some ball.

KCHS63 writes:

From the gotigersgo.com website on the occassion of his induction into the M-Club's Hall of Fame:

"A sweet rainbow jumper and strong defensive play guided Joe Proctor, a product of Knoxville, to Sophomore-of-the-Year honors in the Missouri Valley Conference in 1969. Proctor, a quick guard who led the fast break for the Tigers, scored 699 career points, scoring a season-high 16 points against Oklahoma State as a senior, a year that the Tigers finished 18-8 overall. After receiving his BS in Education, Proctor entered the coaching ranks, serving as the head basketball and assistant football and track coach at Catholic High School in Memphis for two seasons before serving as the Head Coach at Shelby State from 1972-1977. There, Proctor was named the District and Regional Coach of the Year in 1977, an honor that helped him springboard to an assistant coach job at Drake University. Proctor was an assistant at Drake (1977-81), Baylor (1981-85) and Mississippi (1985-86) before moving to UMKC in 1986. Proctor started at UMKC as an assistant coach, and took on the Interim Head Coach tag in 1992-93, where he helped the Kangaroos make the move to NCAA Division I. He led the Roos to a 13-8 record in 1993-94 and was hired in 1996 as the assistant coach at Alabama State University, where he helped the Hornets to SWAC Tournament Championships and NCAA berths in 2001 and 2004. Proctor joined the men's staff at Southern University in 2005, where is an assistant coach. He has also been inducted into the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame (1994) and the Southwest Community College Sports Hall of Fame (2003)."

I suppose Pastner should avoid playing in Knoxville if he wants to avoid signing Hall-of-Famers.

BUHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

tennrich1 writes:

in response to alfrizzle097:

I would think especially in the next year or two it will be a worthless game for Memphis. Tennessee will be perceived as a mid-range to poor major conference team. Beating UT won't get much credit for Memphis if UT performs to projections, and losing to UT will certainly hurt them.

Memphis plays the game for revenue related reasons. Unfortunately, that won't keep the AD from firing his coach when the fans are upset about it.

Man you're statement is what hordes of folks are banking on happening to UT.....They better hope we drop off the face of the earth...because if we endure what in my opinion is the worst thing that can happen to your program(getting the NCAA investigating and dragging it out for 2 years which HEAVILY effects recruiting)and we recover to still dominate several series, including the Memphis series our strength as a program goes thru the roof.

tennrich1 writes:

Let me say here I've long thought way too much is made of playing Memphis...I particularly dont like recruiting the Memphis kid on a regular basis...they are high maintenance and that's even if you can get them into school....actually the percentages are rather small on how many qualify every year...I think the Vols are MUCH better served recruiting the Atlanta/Carolina area...Of course there are a few kids to recruit in this area but I wouldnt spend the bulk of my time in the City of Memphis....and OF COURSE PASTNER DOESN'T WANT TO PLAY TENNESSEE....I mean he's 0-2 against us and he's hoping as well we drop off the face of the earth...I would rather replace Memphis with another Big East school....

CrankE writes:

Yawn. Just shut up and keep taking your whippings, Josh.

johnlg00 writes:

Hard for me to fault Pastner's reasoning on this, though I don't doubt that UM's record against UT lately might also have something to do with it. His argument might have a little more traction if UT was actually getting good players from the Memphis area on a regular basis. This has been true since long before Josh Pastner for a variety of reasons/excuses which have been floated on here for years, such as distance, local culture, and pressure from home fans.

In the long-ago days of my youth, K'ville produced a number of excellent college players, starting with the big kid from old Austin High, whose name escapes me for the moment, who started on Cincinnati's national champion team, through Ron Widby, Bill Justus, Wayne Tipton, Jay Cole, and Ed Poore, not to mention the England boys and no doubt a few others who I can't recall right now. Even in recent years we have had Tony White, Jr. I'm not as familiar with other names from the area these days since I haven't lived in K'ville for over 10 years. However, it is clear that the area is something less than a hotbed of hotshot HS players these days. Even so, there is really no downside to keeping an eye out for at least invited walk-ons from the K'ville vicinity.

madmax22 writes:

Memphis State has several problems and they have become very evident. Unless they are willing to continue to the corrupt practices of Coach Cal, Memphis St. is becoming less attractive of a school for players. CUSA has become a one team NCAA tournament conference since the departure of Louisville, Marquette and DePaul to the Big East. Pastner realizes unless he is willing to play and beat 6 or 7 high profile out of conference teams and beat them, he has to win the CUSA tourney to make the field of 64.

NeylandWest writes:

in response to Couchdummy:

As a Tenn fan (and a general sports fan), I appreciate Coach Pastner's honest answer. It is embarrassing when GVX commenters are so intellectually impaired that they cannot appreciate completely candid answers from opposing coaches. It is even more embarrassing when these commenters respond with brash and bragging comments berating the coach and his team.

And the church said, "Amen."

lyuff01#207588 writes:

I think it took a lot of courage for Pastner to come on Knoxville radio and state the obvious from the Memphis point of view. Game does little for them. Recruiting exposure does a lot for the Vols out there. And Memphis' schedule this year is pretty stacked with a tough out of conference schedule, so the game doesn't really help (or hurt) their RPI.

Volunatic writes:

in response to osu2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Why can't the buckeyes beat Michigan in football without cheating? Why can't the buckeyes beat ANY SEC team in football without cheating?

ROCKYTOPBRAD writes:

Did we not just get two players in football yesterday??? what the hell,why can't we get a story about that?

trubleoj#657755 writes:

Memphis State new color = blue, white and yellow.

The_Real_Orange writes:

in response to trubleoj#657755:

Memphis State new color = blue, white and yellow.

Seeing as how UT backed out of their scheduled football game with UNC, I guess you think yellow must just be in the blood in Tennessee.

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to The_Real_Orange:

Seeing as how UT backed out of their scheduled football game with UNC, I guess you think yellow must just be in the blood in Tennessee.

UT will make much more on the extra home game than it costs to buy out the away game with NC. It was all scheduling and money, being chicken had nothing to do with it

The_Real_Orange writes:

in response to shipperman#280095:

UT will make much more on the extra home game than it costs to buy out the away game with NC. It was all scheduling and money, being chicken had nothing to do with it

If you think easing the difficulty of the shedule "had nothing to do with it".....you have had a little too much of the koolaide.

hcjournals#206623 writes:

I wouldn't want to play us either. Notice the subtle slam on the notion that our sphere of influence is limited to Knoxville...I like Pastner, but.....

trubleoj#657755 writes:

believe me it was embarrassing (is, I live 21 mi from Chapel Hill and a UNC fan brought it up again on Thursday) that our former AD was scared to the point of spending 3/4 of a million dollars to avoid a home and home with UNC. But the fact is that the weak Conf USa strength of schedule should compel Memphis to play all comers out of conference, especially if they think they are pulling top tier talent into their basketball program.

NashvillePreds writes:

Don't worry Pastner, you won't have a head coaching job after 2012-13, so you will not have to burden yourself with such issues.
If I were you, I would concentrate on avenging the loss to Rice last year.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to The_Real_Orange:

Seeing as how UT backed out of their scheduled football game with UNC, I guess you think yellow must just be in the blood in Tennessee.

Believe me, not one Vol fan in 10 agreed with that decision. It is barely possible that Dooley had something to do with it, but from what I have been able to gather it was mostly a Hamilton decision based on the money factors another poster mentioned, since Hamilton had a well-earned reputation for basing most of his decisions on what he thought might benefit the bottom line, whatever the pure sports implications of a given decision might have been.

Einstein writes:

So Josh pastnet of Tiger High does not want to play Tennessee and also says it is a bad fir. Let's see how do you spell CHICKEN.

VolNExile writes:

in response to osu2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Wrong sport, troll. You're muddling your parallels.

Try to focus here. Not easy for you, we all realize.

Oh, and the word you wanted was "dominant."

chattbud writes:

Bruce Pearl set this game up. He chose to WANTED to play Memphis & other state schools. Pearl knew to win in basketball @ Knoxville-U. We had to get the talent out of the State’s largest talent pool, Memphis. Hamilton should have resigned pre-Bruce Almighty & Fulmer. Fulmer turned Alabama in for buying players out of Our state largest talant pool, Memphis! He said Bamer got enough Talent in Alabama!,.. Don’t be crossing into our Volunteer state with your cars from a particular Memphis dealership as inducements to leave our State University UT for Alabama. We should have support Fulmer for protecting our borders! Now thanks to Hamilton,… UT is in a five year rebuild cycle.

VOLliven2it writes:

There is just no way I see that this does not make Pastner appear to be more afraid of what losing to Tennessee would do than having confidence he can beat us. Until all that just occurred in the Vol bb program, I might have agreed with him. But this should be more about the state and not what the coach wants. My guess is the field/court will be more level with a new head coach and so many new players in Knoxville. But it seems that Pastner feels in time UT will climb back up and pose a problem. It is the impression more than even his attitude that bothers me. I am not so sure I would say something which might be perceived as backing out of an instate rival situation even if my team playing in the other city might not seem all that beneficial. I am by no means blasting Coach P. it just smells a little funny to me.

generalneylandsghost writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Titan writes:

in response to osu2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

0 and 10. Once you figure out how to play with the big boys in the SEC, come back and we'll listen.

Colliervol writes:

in response to Vol4EVA:

This goes much deeper than even Pastner realizes. Memphis State begged for years for this game, especially back in the early 80's when they were on a great run. Simply put, over the decades the series just has not worked out the way the Memphis folks had wanted. They thought playing the Vols in basketball would even the score because Tennessee has always dominated them in football. Turns out the Big Orange has had the upper hand in basketball as well. Check the series, every game of any significance, Tennessee has won (first game in the series in Knoxville, first game in Memphis, the NIT game in Memphis, the big game a couple of years ago in Memphis when they were undefeated, and so on) and the Vols lead the series. Pastner is right; Tennessee beating Memphis in basketball does them no good and only helps Tennessee get some recruiting in-roads into West Tennessee. But remember this, Memphis is the one that begged to play UT in basketball and now all these years later are simply tired of it not working out the way they envisioned. Go Big Orange....I'll hang up and listen to your comments...

If the series has "helped" us so much, why haven't we made more in-roads since Tony Harris? The only one out of Memphis since him was JP Prince and he was an Arizona transfer and Calipari didn't want him. Most Memphis kids want to stay home and, if offered, will go to Memphis. That is simple fact whether we play in Memphis or not.

First fact: This idea of it helping UT in basketball recruiting is a load of absolute garbage. Two games played in Memphis in a 4 year career is not enough to sway a kid to UT. No way. Josh is a good guy but he's doing nothing more than regurgitating Calipari's old tired handbook.

Second fact: This was the argument all day on Memphis radio. Some folks kept saying that the game is "good for the state" and "fans across the state want to see the game". I submit that there are only about 100 fans outside of a 3 county area in West Tennessee that care whether it's played or not. I certainly do not care and I live in Shelby County.

You are correct on what I believe is the real reason. Methinks it has more to do with the fact that UT is a much better program than it used to be and when Memphis lines up against us, history shows there is a better than 50/50 chance that they get beat. (The series record shows that as fact.) I figure Josh would like to schedule somebody a little easier for his non-conference schedule and he's just using the old Cal line as an excuse. At the end of the day, I would be quite happy if all games in all sports were cancelled with this bunch of insecure whiners. It's just not worth the trouble listening to it every year. Let their budget scramble for dollars without the money we contribute to them.

Colliervol writes:

in response to osu2:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It's called softening the schedule while you rebuild. Not too hard to understand. If you've paid any sort of attention, you'd know that. Historically, UT has played one of toughest schedules in the country and we can be excused for softening it up one time.

Besides, as a Buckeye fan, you might want to take some notes. When the NCAA gets done with your program, you'll need to be scheduling Slippery Rock to get a win.

Colliervol writes:

in response to stevefrommemphis:

Don't suggest that the one Memphians call "Helmet Hair" on the Commercial Appeal message boards quit Memphis so long as the Tennessee A.D. job is open! The people in Knoxville have such a long track record of pitiful results from administrative hires that they just might hire him. If somebody can confirm that R.C. Johnson would be considered a candidate, let me know and I'll submit my resume.

I've said for many years that Tennessee has nothing to gain and everything to lose from playing Memphis State in any sport, especially football, and that statement still stands. Drop Memphis.

Ditto to your last paragraph. In spades.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features