If the University of Memphis lets Josh Pastner walk away to USC or UCLA, the Tigers will be making a monumental mistake.
Of course, there is a difference between Memphis letting him walk away and doing everything they can to get him to stay but coming up short in the end.
Gary Parrish and Geoff Calkins discussed the potential of Pastner leaving on the radio this week. Parrish said that he thinks Josh should use his position to try and leverage “as much as he can” out of Memphis. “As much as he can” would likely mean more money and more control. The money is there and available as the “open checkbook” story made clear before Calipari left, but Pastner still needs to prove a bit more in terms of winning before we make him the highest paid coach in the country. But, there is no question we could offer him as much as USC or UCLA would and feel OK about it.
The power issue is what worries me about the situation. As was made evident this season with the Tennessee scheduling guffaw, athletic director Tom Bowen is the boss and Pastner is the employee, which in terms of title is true. But Pastner should hold all the power in terms of scheduling, budget matters, discipline, etc., and if Tom Bowen doesn’t understand that and act accordingly, then yes, Josh should probably leave town.
If this happens and the Memphis athletic department can’t swallow their pride enough to give Josh what he needs and wants, within reason of course, then shame on them. This is not a time to let pride get in the way of making decisions that are best for the university and its basketball program. This is a time to look at a young coach who has been to three straight NCAA tournaments, who has recruited as well as anybody in the country, who has a top three recruiting class coming in next year, and above all else look at a coach who only has four years of head coaching experience and reward him accordingly so he can continue leading our program to bigger and better places.
Josh Pastner will be a star in the coaching world. Right now when people think of great NCAA basketball coaches, they think Izzo, Pitino, and Krzyzewski. In 15 to 20 years Stevens (Brad), Smart (Shaka), and Pastner will be the names synonymous with great coaching. Unfortunately, there will come a day when Memphis might not be able to provide everything Pastner deserves and a job like Duke or UNC or Kansas will open up and come calling, and in that case his leaving would be understandable, but I do not think this needs to be the year we let him get away.
Josh Pastner is good for Memphis. He is good at what he does, and his young age will only get better. He is a man of high moral value, a man that cares about his players more than winning, and a man that gives the University of Memphis a good name.
If Josh for some reason has his mind made up that he is leaving and there is nothing that the U of M can do to make him stay, then so be it. The Tigers can rebound with a decent or even above average coach for next season. But in the here and now, Josh Pastner is a rising star, and Memphis needs to grab on to him and not let go.