Friday, April 3, 2009

Geoff Calkins: The dumbest guy in the room

So before this post gets underway I suppose I should say three things.

1. I’m a huge University of Memphis Tigers fan, born and raised. I received two degrees from the school so this post will be from the heart, not the head.

2. My top choice for the coaching vacancy is Reggie Theus, for a variety of reasons, including:
a) he has NBA coaching and playing experience
b) he’s a relativity young, African American coach that could use both of these traits to his advantage in this city
c) he has college coaching experience
d) he was on a NBC TV show that came on immediately following “Saved by the Bell”

3. It’s past midnight on a Friday night and thus I’m a bit riled up.

Taking into consideration the above mentioned concepts, I have to break down the most recent Geoff Calkins article and ask you, fair or foul? (Calkins writing is in italics throughout)

“So the conversation turned to the Memphis coaching search, and the Division 1 head coach asked who the Tigers search team might be going after next.
"It could be Scott Drew."
The Division 1 head coach paused at this.
"Do they KNOW Scott Drew?" he asked.
Evidently, not. Or they know something about the Baylor coach that nobody else seems to know.

First off, Calkins implies that he was talking with a Division 1 coach and the conversation just happened to turn to the U of M coaching job vacancy. This is all Calkins has been concerned with for the past week. Of course the conversation went there! Second, Calkins implies that this Division 1 coach knows something about Scott Drew that no one else knows. Isn’t this collusion? These guys are both competing for the same jobs, the same money, the same prestige. Can we trust an anonymous competitor’s position?

A national television commentator (by phone): "WHAT?"

So a columnist said “What?” Can we be sure that he truly meant, “I can’t believe that the U of M would consider this person” as Calkins implies. Couldn’t he simply have asked “What” as in “I didn’t hear you, what did you say?” The source is still anonymous, so how can we prove otherwise?

An assistant coach in the SEC (by text): "Wow."
Scott Drew would be a "wow" hire in the world of college basketball, all right.
Just not in a good way.

So who is the assistant coach? What school does he coach for? What does he mean by “wow?” Does he mean, “Wow, I know that guy and he’s a hell of a coach. Wow, Memphis found a diamond in the rough.” Calkins frames the “wow” by implying that it was negative, but once again, the statement is simply a basic anonymous word, how can we know what it means without Calkins framing it?

And let me say, in the interest of complete disclosure, that I would not know Scott Drew if he walked into my living room and offered me a package deal.
Which he might do, by all accounts. But that's not the point here. I don't know Drew. I have never met the guy.
If the Memphis Tigers hire him -- and they talked with him Friday, after formally asking for permission -- it could turn out to be the best thing for this city since pulled pork. But that's not what people who know Drew seem to think.

So a bunch of anonymous sources, none that will go on record, who “know Drew” seem to think he’s a bad guy. While we’re playing this game, let me go ahead and say, anonymously, that I think Vin Disel is the best actor of his generation, that LeBron James is overrated and that Lindsey Lohan is a virgin.

I made a lot of calls on this. And Drew was invariably described as:
1) A phony.
2) A man who has never met a recruiting rule he couldn't bend.
3) A lousy bench coach.
4) And, really, what more do you need?

I’ll go ahead and ask Graham these questions. Wouldn’t an innocent bystander call Coach Cal a phony, a man who never met a recruiting rule he couldn’t bend and a lousy bench coach? Isn’t’ that the same guy the school and city desperately tried to keep?

It's not just me, saying worrisome things about Drew, either. It's everyone. Jeff Goodman, the national college basketball writer for Fox Sports, said on my radio show that hiring Drew would be a mistake. Texas coach Rick Barnes has publicly criticized Drew's recruiting tactics.

Well, if Jeff Goodman said it, it must be true. Didn’t this guy say that Memphis played lousy street ball last year up until they were 3 seconds away from being national champs? And if Rick Barnes doesn’t like the guy, isn’t that a compliment? I don’t want a coach that has nearby rival school coaches saying, “What a great fellow! Hire him now!”

George Lapides -- a newspaperman without a newspaper -- took the extraordinary step on his radio show of warning Memphis not to hire Drew.
Lapides said he thought about saying the same thing when Memphis was on the verge of hiring Tic Price. When the Price era played out as it did, Lapides vowed never to keep quiet again.

Well, if I can play the same game that Lapides is playing now, let me go on records as saying that I thought Michael Jordan’s baseball career was going to be a flop from the start but I wanted to let him learn on his own, that Shaq and Kobe should’ve never split up but I hate to get in the middle and that Barry Bonds was using steroids but I’m not one to judge.

Drew has a reputation as a creative recruiter. That must be part of it. But wouldn't it be nice to have a head coach who didn't spend all his time chasing national recruits with offers of jobs on the staff?
Drew hired John Wall's AAU coach to help bring the star guard to Baylor. Problem is, he forgot to get a guarantee that Wall would actually come. John Calipari might have been shady, but at least he was great at it.

What the hell am I supposed to make of this? Drew is shady in trying to get John Wall. Okay, I get that. But Calapari was shady in getting Dajuan Wagner (hired his dad and gave his BFF a scholarship), Derrick Rose (Worldwide Wes) and Tyreke Evans (hired one of his boys). So I’m supposed to fault Drew for not securing Wall’s letter of intent but praise Cal for getting Wagner, Rose and Evans. I’m perplexed.

The Memphis search team appears not to care about any of this. And maybe they're the smartest guys in the room.

How do we know the Memphis search team doesn’t care about any of this? They haven’t hired the guy yet. Maybe this is why the guy wasn’t first on the list. Obviously he wasn’t (Tim Floyd, Bruce Peal, etc.). “Maybe they’re the smartest guys in the room?” Aren’t they the only guys in the room? Who else is in the Memphis coaching search room other than the Memphis search team? In theory, they’re the smartest, dumbest, prettiest and ugliest guys in the room. They are the only guys in the room!

If I were on the search committee, I'd take another trip, just to be sure. Fly to Detroit, the site of the Final Four. Wander through the hotels. Ask people in the business what they think of their candidate.
They'd shoot straight. They'd roll their eyes their eyes a bit, too.
The Tigers might be interested in hiring Scott Drew?

So go to Detroit, the site of all of Scott Drew’s competitors, his rivals, see what they think and expect straight answers. Wow is right. Wow, Calkins really is this naïve, and he thinks his readers really are that stupid.


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