Now that John Calipari has up and gone to Kentucky, Memphis must find a new head coach. The Tigers understandably want a big name who can continue the winning tradition established by Calipari (four straight 30-win seasons, four straight Conference USA championships, a national championship game appearance).
And so, according to Memphis television station WMC, the Tigers have extended a rather mammoth offer to Tennessee Coach Bruce Pearl. The television station also is reporting that former Indiana and Texas Tech coach Bob Knight interviewed for the job on Wednesday, a report that was disputed by the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Memphis has offered Pearl a seven-year deal worth $21 million, according to the WMC report, which also said that Pearl will interview for the job either today or tomorrow. Pearl made $1.6 million this past season. By the 2014-15 season, the final year of a contract extension agreed upon in July, his contract escalates to $2.5 million. Pearl also received a $250,000 signing bonus and a $1.5 million retention bonus in July. His buyout is reported to be $2.5 million.
But besides salary considerations, would Pearl consider the Memphis job a step up? The Tigers play in Conference USA, which in most seasons offers decidedly little competition compared with the Southeastern Conference. And it's not like Tennessee's less-than-storied basketball history is hurting Pearl's recruiting: His recruting class this past season was ranked No. 7 by Rivals.com.
And then there's this, from Memphis Commercial Appeal columnist Geoff Calkins: "Calipari genuinely hates Pearl." Calkins also writes that Pearl's hiring "would drive Calipari nuts."
As for Knight, his hiring after a season away from the court would certainly make a splash. Yes, Knight brings with him 902 career wins, the most in Division I men's history, but he also brings with him a certain amount of baggage. Would the school want to put up with that? Would Knight, at age 68, want to deal with immense expectations to win and win now, even if Calipari's recruits join him at Kentucky or leave Memphis for other programs?
What do you think? Should Memphis continue to pursue Bruce Pearl? Would moving to Memphis be as good for Pearl's coaching career as it would be for his wallet? Is Bob Knight the answer? Is there another coach who should be considered? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
April 2, 2009; 11:15 AM ET
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