Memphis Dreaming: Can the Tigers land Penny Hardaway?
The news may have come as a surprise to many, but not if you are a regular listener of the My Fantasy Podcast. Mentioned multiple times over the least few months, our own Brandon Reid, a Memphis Tigers fan, has been clamoring for Penny Hardaway as the Memphis Tigers head coach. That wish may soon become a reality…
According to a report from CBSSports.com, Memphis is considering firing head coach Tubby Smith and replacing him with Penny Hardaway.
Hardaway in turn, would hire former NBA and NCAA coach Larry Brown to his staff–a fantastic hire in every way.
Hardaway, who played for the Tigers from 1991 to ’93 before becoming a four-time NBA All-Star, currently coaches East High School (Memphis, Tenn.) and runs the Team Penny AAU program on the Nike EYBL circuit. He coaches ESPN 60 No. 1 junior James Wiseman at East, as well as five-star junior Chandler Lawson (No. 26). Five-star junior D.J. Jeffries (No. 17) also plays for Team Penny.
Currently, Memphis is not considered a threat to land any of those three prospects, which is one of the reasons the Tigers are considering a change, sources told ESPN. Smith went 19-13 last season, and his Tigers sit at 19-12 heading into the American Athletic Conference tournament this season.
The Tigers program hasn’t lived up to expectations since Tubby Smith replaced Josh Pastner, who left the Tigers to coach Georgia Tech. According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, attendance at Memphis games this season is the lowest since 1969-70. Under John Calipari and Pastner, the Tigers regularly ranked among the top 15 programs nationally in average attendance.
Tubby has done a great job coaching his kids on the floor, but his recruiting efforts are leaving a lot to be desired. The Tigers are bringing in just two recruits next season, three-star center Connor Vanover and unranked shooting guard Myreon Jones.
What would it take to fire Tubby?
Smith has a $9.75 million buyout, as his contract requires Memphis to pay his full salary if it fires him.
University president M. David Rudd told the Commercial Appeal on Tuesday that he would not respond to speculation about Smith’s coaching status.
“We’re going to evaluate the program at the end of the year,” Rudd said.
Do you believe Penny will be the next coach of the Memphis Tigers? Let us know in the comments below…