Saturday, September 10, 2011

Memphis Tigers Hit Bottom

Posted By on Sat, Sep 10, 2011 at 9:45 PM

There's an accepted bit of wisdom for those with addiction issues: Before they can be helped, they have to hit bottom. That is, they have to be so depressed, so worn out from their destructive actions, that they can see only one way out — a total change in behavior.

The University of Memphis football team has hit bottom. It has become a pathetic, embarrassing excuse for a Division I football program. An intervention is needed, stat.

It was only a few years ago, that I wouldn't have missed listening to a Tiger game on the radio or TV. I even attended a couple games every year. Tonight, I fixed dinner for some friends. We talked about lots of things, but Tiger football wasn't among them. Around 8:30, someone said, "I wonder how the Tigers are doing." I checked the score on my phone. "It's 44 to 3, Arkansas State, middle of the third quarter," I said. Loud groaning, laughter, and scornful remarks ensued.

Seriously, the U of M allows Arkansas State(!) to run up 600 yards in offense? Arkansas State holds the Tigers to one field goal? No offense to the players (literally), who I am sure are trying their best to win football games, but can anyone seriously argue that this program is not a joke? In fact, we are a national punchline.

After week one of the season, which featured a massive thrashing of Memphis by Mississippi State (55 points, 600 yards allowed, ho-hum), ESPN put Memphis as number one in its infamous "Bottom 10." In other words, U of M was considered by ESPN as the WORST team in D-I football. Think they'll stay there this week? I think they're a lock.

Greg Akers argued in the Flyer this week
that the U of M ought to downsize its football program and focus on basketball and other sports, a la Butler, Georgetown, Gonzaga, etc. At this point, that plan makes all the sense in the world. The only other option is to go big, to get FedEx money and other big booster commitments to go all-in: world-class facilities and the hiring of a Saban-level, big-name transformative coach.

But why? Really, why? We have a great basketball program, decent soccer, baseball, and other minor sports that don't cost an arm and a leg to run. Why not accept that we can be a good, even great urban university. No one thinks less of NYU because it doesn't have a D-I football team. What's a better image for the city? A respected academic institution along the lines of Georgetown or Washington University or Chicago University, or a middling football school like, say, Rutgers or Clemson or Ole MIss? I mean, who gives a crap about mediocre football? It's not much better than bad football.

Think about it, Shirley. Then Dream about it. Then Do it. Stop blowing energy, money, and prestige in a futile chase for pigskin glory. It ain't gonna happen. Ever. It's a distraction, and an expensive one, at that. Refocus. Change your behavior. Consider this an intervention. You can thank me later.


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