MSL wins 3rd Best Sports Radio Show for the 2nd year in a row

MemphiSport Live (MSL) won 3rd place for the second consecutive year in the Best Sports Radio Show category of the Memphis Flyer’s Best of Memphis poll.

Hosted by MemphiSport’s managing editor Kevin Cerrito and Fox 13’s weekend sports anchor Marcus Hunter, MSL airs every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm on Sports 56 WHBQ.

Click here for more info on MSL.

Click here to view the full list of 2011 Best of Memphis media winners.

Follow the MSL hosts on Twitter @cerrito & @marcus_hunter


Does maligned Memphis AD deserve credit for basketball success?

It would be an understatement to say that University of Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson has been on the hot seat lately. In fact, with all the flamethrowers that have been spewing fire in the general direction of his posterior region, he probably hasn’t been able to do much sitting at all. Some in the media seem to believe he’s also to blame for the current state of the global economy, the shortcomings of the US healthcare system, and the decision to replace Charlie Sheen with Ashton Kutcher.

The U of M football team is quite possibly in the worst shape it’s ever been; there’s not many who can present a valid argument to the contrary. But Tiger basketball is also enjoying one of the most prolific runs in its history. And over the past 15 years, Johnson has been there to oversee it all.

After reaching the 1984-85 Final Four, then Memphis State enjoyed moderate success under Larry Finch, but after a few years, the program began a slow, steady decline. Amidst a terrible public relations fiasco, Johnson did what most Tiger fans had been screaming for and released Finch from his coaching duties. It was a difficult thing to do, but it has been reported that Finch was on board with the decision because he knew it would be the best way for the university to move forward. After that, the AD hired Tic Price, who had a decent first year by going 17–12, winning the National Division of C–USA and advancing to the NIT, and it appeared that Memphis basketball might be back up on the upswing. The next year, however, saw Price’s team go 13-15, which could only be seen as a step in the wrong direction even though the team was made up mostly of young, inexperienced players. Then, prior to his third season, the coach was let go due to a reported inappropriate involvement with a female student.

At that point, even the most hardcore Tiger basketball fans had started becoming disgruntled. The team was no longer seen as relevant by the national media, and with the games no longer being shown on television, local interest fell to a low it hadn’t seen in quite some time.

Then in 2000, Johnson pulled off something that even the most optimistic of fans could never have expected. After a swirl of rumors, the school announced the hire of former UMASS and NBA Nets coach John Calipari, The news immediately sparked enthusiasm from fans and media members alike, as “Coach Cal” pledged to bring in top notch recruits and compete for national championships. He would deliver on his promises too, as the Tigers would eventually boast consecutive Elite Eight appearances followed by an appearance in the national title game.

Then in 2009, disaster once again struck the basketball program as Calipari announced he was leaving to take the head coaching job at Kentucky. To make things worse, he took virtually his entire coaching staff and the top recruiting class in the country with him. The university was also told that it must forfeit wins from the entire season during which it reached the NCAA championship game because one of the players Calipari recruited had been ruled ineligible.

After a lengthy, publicly ridiculed search for his replacement ended with Memphis unable to land another big name coach, the school had to end up settling for U of M assistant coach Josh Pastner. Johnson offered him the job just as he was about to head to Kentucky to join Cal. The hire ended up being another stellar one for the athletic director, however, as Pastner’s recruiting ability has kept the Tigers at an elite level.

But here are a couple of questions that must be asked. First, is it possible Calipari would have come to Memphis even if Johnson hadn’t pursued him? Knowing Cal’s propensity to manipulate a situation, it might have been his plan all along to use Memphis has a stepping stone on the way to the Kentucky job. And even if that’s not the case, it’s also quite feasible that the only reason Johnson was able to get Calipari to listen to him in the first place was that the two had known each other as rivals in the Atlantic 10 when Johnson was the AD at temple and Cal was the coach at UMASS.

Secondly, should Pastner’s hiring be viewed as blind luck? After all, JP was never even mentioned as a candidate until Johnson failed to land a prestigious name. There were even rumors swirling that the decision to bring the young coach in was ultimately not Johnson’s.

R.C. Johnson inherited a basketball program rich in tradition with a coach who meant more to the university’s sports department than probably anyone else in history. During his tenure, the team began a slide which then forced him to fire that iconic figure. He then brought in someone to run the program who eventually would have to be dismissed for having an affair with a co-ed. He followed that up by hiring a man that brought the program to prosperity but also left it in a state of disarray.

So should Johnson be given credit for the U of M’s recent success in hoops? If he were asked that question right now, there is one answer he’d be sure to provide: At least we’re not talking about football.

Related reading: R.C. Johnson’s bio on the University of Memphis Athletic website:

Michael Jones is the Tiger basketball beat writer for MemphiSport. You can follow him via Twitter @MemphisMJ.

Photo by Chase Gustafson.

So long CHL… The times are a-changing

We have a team!! A GM ? A coach? Well at least we have hockey. To me it doesn’t matter what league were in. We didn’t do well the past few years in the CHL. I just want to see 100% effort !!

I went to a few games last season in Huntsville and  a few in Knoxville. Hey, I had a blast and the games I did see were a hell of lot more entertaining than the Kings were last season.

I don’t need to go on in-depth about what I think about the GM, YOU KNOW MY THOUGHTS THERE.

The coach, don’t get me started. Landmesser is going to have his hands full right off the bat. But let me say no more, don’t blame the players who will be coming. Can Landmesser actually coach? He had a tough time being a captain.

Besides all that, it’s great to still have a team. They didn’t fold.

So let’s give this version of the Kings a chance. Don’t boycott the DCC AND THE TEAM. If the GM and coach can’t deliver a winning team on the ice, then get rid of them, not the team.

Let us hope our fans don’t have to do this all season long.

That’s the way I see it and I’m Joe Sports.

The times they are a-changin’ !!

Great article from Maclean’s magazine.I hope your not one of the bad ones !!


Another Woeful Tiger Performance

A dejected coach Porter sat in front of the media after Saturday’s homecoming loss to SMU, a game in which the Tiger offense could never get in a rhythm. The team rushed 24 times for a net of -14 yards and the passing game could not get going either thanks in large part to the pressure SMU put on Taylor Reed.

 “We had a horrible day offensively and there are no excuses. We have to play better” coach Porter said after the game.

The Tigers were an abysmal 2-15 onthird downs and could only muster seven first downs. Tom Hornsey punted the ball twelve times, one shy of tying the school record for punts in a game.

Although nothing seemed to work for Memphis offensively the Tiger D did make some significant strides against a very potent Mustang offensive attack and coach Porter recognized the improvements, “The defense did some solid things in spite of us not being able to do anything offensively.” Memphis was able to force four turnovers including two in the red zone that prevented SMU touchdowns. Also, for the second time this year the defense for Memphis held an FBS foe scoreless for an entire quarter.

Senior linebacker Terrence Thomas lead the way for the Tiger defense with 13 tackles and a forced fumble and teammate Akeem Davis chipped in by recovering two fumbles and grabbing an interception.

The next Tiger opponent is MTSU who will be looking for their first win of the year. MTSU wants to avenge last year’s defeat which was the only win for Memphis.

This is going to be another tough matchup for the Tiger defense as MTSU comes into this contest with the No. 17 ranked passing attack in the nation. Quarterback Logan Kilgore is coming off of an amazing 415 passing yard and 5 touchdown performance against Troy State and is looking forward to playing a struggling Tiger defense.

The Blue Raiders have won nine of the last eleven games against Memphis and if Tigers do not find a way to run the football and slow down the high powered MTSU offense this game could get out of hand quickly.

Pictures by Chase Gustafson.

CJ Hurt covers Tiger Football for Memphis Sport. Follow CJ him on twitter @churtj09 for live tweets from the Tiger game.

MSL: 9.24.11

Hour 1:

Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter talk about Memphis falling 42-0 to SMU, Ole Miss losing 27-13, Rick Pitino and more during the Starting 5.  Also,  executive producer of Memphis Heat: The True Story of Memphis Wrasslin’ Sherman Willmott joins the guys in studio to talk about the film’s release on DVD.

Click here to listen to Hour 1 of the 9.24.11 MSL

Hour 2:

Another exciting edition of the city’s 2nd Favorite Sports Radio Segment Hang Up & Listen. Also,  Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter talk with Sarah Davis about the RiverKings event Noah’s Gift Memorial Run-Walk-Skate 5K. Plus, the guys talk about FNL’s big Emmy win, Ron Artest losing to Nancy Grace, the latest thing from Back to the Future coming true, and more during Woohoos and Boos.

Click here to listen to Hour 2 of the 9.24.11 MSL

Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter host MSL (MemphiSport Live) every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm on Sports 56 WHBQ. MSL was voted 3rd Best Sports Show in the 2010 Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis poll.



Is a super-sized Big East a good fit for Memphis?

After all the recent speculation about realignment and the formation of super conferences, one really big thing is sure to come. A giant mess.

No one knows who will eventually end up where, but you can be certain that soon, whether it be the next few years, months, or even days, the landscape of college football and basketball will be different than it is today. And that can definitely be said about the Big East.

The league’s current fourteen to seventeen basketball playing schools (depending on what day you check) make it a bit of a logistical nightmare, and it’s quite possible that the conference could grow even bigger. With rumors rampant that the University of Memphis could be invited to join the fray and Louisville coach Rick Pitino’s public support, it’s time to examine whether membership in a behemoth Big East would be a good fit for the Tigers.

First off let’s be clear. If the U of M football program is asked to become a member of ANY conference holding BCS status, the program will leap at the chance, and it definitely should. No one could possibly question that.

For basketball, however, the situation isn’t quite as simple. Of course the opportunity to compete against the likes of Louisville, Connecticut, Georgetown and West Virginia on a regular basis brings with it an aura of prestige and ensures that Memphis remains relevant in the eyes of the national media. Plus, inclusion in a league with such marquee members is sure to bring in more money for the university. Lucrative television contracts also mean that the school gains greater exposure.

Joining the Big East would also serve to revive some old rivalries as well as automatically create new ones. Imagine having Louisville and Cincinnati back as the U of M’s primary antagonists as opposed to UAB and UTEP. It probably wouldn’t be too difficult for the fans to get behind that.

Scheduling would get bit easier in some aspects. There would be a great deal less pressure on Josh Pastner to put more big name opponents on the slate, which might help curb some of the complaints that seem to arise from the fans, media and NCAA tournament committee about the Tigers lack of quality wins late in the season.

So hopping on board the Big East train is a no-brainer, right? Well, it isn’t that cut and dry really.

Over the last several years, Tiger basketball has thrived in an environment where they were the big fish in a small pond. If they suffered a loss or two in conference, it was considered a disappointment, and piling up close to 30 wins a year became a foregone conclusion. Sprinkle a few respected teams throughout the schedule here and there, and the regular season became the perfect tuneup for the NCAA tournament. But if Memphis aligns itself with an overloaded Big East, those occurrences all become part of the past. Freedom of scheduling is gone, along with the automatic conference wins and the confidence that gets built by pounding hapless league foes.

Winning the C-USA tournament is something the U of M has accomplished all but one year since 2006. Even when they haven’t been unbeatable in regular season league play, the Tigers have still captured the conference’s automatic bid. That gets quite a bit tougher to pull off in the Big East. Not only would they have to face tougher teams, they would also likely have to play another game, maybe even two. And a late loss might well eliminate them from gaining a 1 or 2 seed in the Big Dance as they also struggle to gain position in the Top 25.

Some will argue that recruiting becomes easier when you’re part of a major conference. You gain instant credibility and name recognition just by sporting that affiliation. You get to see your name on the list of five star recruits right next to the names of major programs like a UConn or a Louisville. Something Memphis would just dream to… Oh wait, that’s already happening. The fact is that Memphis is already one of the top choices for high school phenoms looking to play their year or two in college before they head to the NBA, so joining a major conference really doesn’t do much for them as far as recruiting is concerned.

So what does the U of M basketball program gain if they join they acquire membership in the Big East?Unfortunately, the answer may be that they won’t have much of a choice when it comes down to it. It’s entirely possible that when conference realignment is finished (not that it will ever truly be complete), a school’s football affiliation will control what happens to it in basketball. There are theories that the football superconferences will only play each other as they vie for their own championship. If this happens, college hoops could very well follow suit. And at that point, you’re either in the club or you’re not. It’s that simple.

At least as simple as anything in college sports these days.

Michael Jones is the Memphis Tiger basketball beat writer for MemphiSport. You can follow him via Twitter @MemphisMJ.

Of Mantle, Mason and Moore

This article originally appeared in the September 2011 issue of MemphiSport.

I spent a big part of my life as the sports anchor on Channel 5 and had the opportunity to meet and interview many world famous personalities…

It was back in the 80’S at the All-Star Break. Avron Fogelman hosted a party at his house to watch the game and mingle with several big leaguers he had invited to enjoy the game. At the time, Mr. Fogelman was part owner of the Kansas City Royals, so he was well connected with big league players. He also invited several of the “local sports guys,” knowing that we would be in hog heaven.

One of ball players in attendance was Mickey Mantle. I asked if I could interview him and he said, “OK.”

I asked him the usual questions — biggest moment with the Yankees, what is he doing now and other mundane stuff.

Then it hit me like a ton on bricks. I knew that Mason Granger, our news anchor and my foil on the set was a huge Yankees fan, so I asked Mickey if he would ad lib a tribute to Mason to be played on the news that night.

Mickey said, “Sure. I know just what you want.”

“I just want take a minute to pay tribute to Mason Granger.We Yankees know of his love for the team and we appreciate his support over the years.” He looks right in the camera and said, “Mason, on behalf of the New York Yankees, may I just say thank you.”

Off I went, back to the station to get ready for the news, which came on late because NBC carried the All-Star Game. So the news comes on around 11:00pm and I did the game highlights, then announced my special presentation and showed the Mickey Mantle piece.

To say that Mason was stunned would be a gross understatement — he was flabbergasted. It was the first time I saw him at a loss for words. I had nailed him good.

Of all the people I met and interviewed, I only got one autograph — Archie Moore. It was back in 1945 My buddy Pat and I were in Cleveland seeing some baseball games, when we saw in the paper that Archie Moore and Jimmy Bivens were going to fight for the heavyweight chsampionship. And the tickets were cheap enough that we could afford to go. Here is what happened.

Bivens knocked Moore down in the center of the ring and with Moore on his knees, Bivens blasted him with a right uppercut.Moore was knocked across the ring and was out like a light.

What to do? It was an illegal punch — Moore was on his knees and unable to defend himself. So, to give him the fight would have been a travesty. So they gave Moore a five minute rest and started the fight up again!

Moore was still half unconscious as he went back and took a terrible beating, but he would not quit. What courage. What moxie. What a man. He lost the fight, but I never forgot what a display of pure guts. Wow. So when I met archie I had to have his autograph.

I’d like to say, ”Now you know the rest of the story,” but that would be too corny, even for me.

“Big “ Jack Eaton can be heard every Friday at 8am on KWAM 990 alongside former County Commissioner John Willingham. In February, Jack was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.


Written by Jack Eaton. Illustration by Andrew Chandler. “Big” Jack can be heard every Friday at 8am on KWAM 990 alongside former County Commissioner John Willingham. He was recently inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

Prove That Chris Johnson Isn’t Finished

Man, I am really down on this guy, and not even because of his sub-par performance in game 1 and 2. His holdout really cost this team a chance at starting strong this season. I have no problem with a player holding out for a better contract and although I believe that CJ is way overrated, he did deserve a much better contract. But shouldn’t a player still practice with the team? Tell the front office that you will not play a game and sit out the preseason, but at least practice. He didn’t and it shows on the field. OK, I am biased because I don’t think he is as good as advertised, but I will gladly say that I’m wrong and eat my hat, once he produces a winning season for the Titans.

There will be many out there who will say that I am crazy, but there were quite a few boos coming from the stands this past Sunday near the end of the game when he was stopped time and again for little or no yardage. This team has become a passing team, so CJ will simply not have the attempts he needs to get back into game-shape any time soon. The team will give up on him in the coming weeks. It already happened on a crucial 4th and 1 play this past weekend. They sat CJ on the sideline and gave the ball to Javon Ringer.

My prediction for Chris Johnson in the coming weeks… He will lose his starting job to Javon Ringer. Ringer has looked fantastic nearly every time he has touched the ball this season, and he will continue to shine. The moral of the story, do your job and let the money take care of itself.

OK — now it’s your turn… you don’t don’t believe me? Then prove that Chris Johnson isn’t finished.

Story by Mike Bullard

Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler talks Memphis football on MSL

Jerry “The King” Lawler joined Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter on MSL to talk about the email he sent to Geoff Calkins supporting big changes to Memphis Tiger football, the phone call he received this week from Memphis athletic director RC Johnson, his failed negotiations with the Grizzlies to appear at Game 7 of the Thunder series, plus much more.


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Click here to download the Jerry Lawler interview from the September 17, 2011 MSL

Click here for more MSL interviews.

Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter host MemphiSport Live (MSL) every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm on Sports 56 WHBQ. MSL was voted 3rd Best Sports Show in the 2010 Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis poll.

Photo by Chase Gustafson.



MSL debate: Should Memphis football downgrade to Division I-AA?

The Memphis Flyer’s Greg Akers joined Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter on MSL to discuss the idea of Memphis football downgrading to be a FCS school (Division 1-AA).


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Click here to download the Greg Akers interview from the September 17, 2011 MSL

Click here to read Greg Aker’s Memphis Flyer article titled “War Games: How the University of Memphis can win the college football battle.

Click here for more MSL interviews.

Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter host MemphiSport Live (MSL) every Saturday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm on Sports 56 WHBQ. MSL was voted 3rd Best Sports Show in the 2010 Memphis Flyer Best of Memphis poll.