Memphis Tigers: You Can Take Away the Wins, But Never the Memories

Ryne E. HancockCorrespondent IAugust 20, 2009

For a city that has been forever stuck in the 1950s, a city in which a former mayor can quit office and then consider running for their old job again because they feel that if they don’t run, the city will turn into Beirut on the banks of the Mississippi River, Memphis has always bonded together on one thing.

Tiger basketball.

Over the last decade, the Tigers have made 9 consecutive postseason appearances and posted 20-plus wins in those seasons, made four straight Sweet 16’s and three straight Elite Eights.

That is, until today.

The magic of what was supposed to be Calipari’s crowning moment in Memphis was snuffed away when the NCAA forced the university to vacate the 2007-08 season.

With that ruling by the NCAA, Memphis’ Final Four berth is vacated in the NCAA records, which was the same thing that happened to the 1984-85 team that lost to Villanova in the national semifinals. In the process, it made Calipari the first coach in college basketball history to have two Final Fours vacated.

In the Tiger record books, the title for winningest coach in Tiger history goes back to Larry Finch, who had a record of 220-130 in 12 seasons as Tiger basketball coach.

Wow.

A year ago, you couldn’t go anywhere without Tiger t-shirts, caps, and all things Tigers around this city.

We always thought that this team, long known as the unwanted stepchild, the team that didn’t have the pedigree of a Duke or an UCLA, would place a stamp on college basketball history.

Yeah, we thought that.

But sometimes our gullible thoughts, mixed in with money and power trips, gets the best of us.

Trust me, it does.

Being a Tiger basketball fan since childhood, all the way back to the days of the Mid-South Coliseum and Elliott Perry, 2007-08 was supposed to be my crowning moment as a Tiger basketball fan.

Which it was in a sense.

However, thanks to the NCAA, the memories of that season, just like the memories of 1985, are not official to them.

But if you ask Memphians, what that team did for this city, remains forever in our hearts, regardless of how much you hate or love Calipari.

Regardless of what was done by Rose during his ACT tests, or what was in the report made by the NCAA, you can take the wins, the banners in the FedEx Forum, everything that is related to that season.

But like the Boys of Summer in Brooklyn, you can’t take the memories away from Tiger Nation, Mr. NCAA.

You just can’t.

Because at the end of the day, the hearts of Tiger Nation will beat for the University stronger than ever.

And when basketball season comes, it’s going to beat stronger than it’s ever beaten before for Coach Pastner.

Because that’s what being a real fan is all about.

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