By Gary Parrish
I've always insisted -- at least since Louisville, Cincinnati and Marquette left Conference USA -- that though Memphis probably isn't one of the nation's top 10 programs, it's almost certainly one of the top 10 jobs in its current setup. You coach in a soldout and first-class arena for a school that's a national brand, charters every road trip, has access to private planes for recruiting, out-spends all other C-USA members and generally finds yourself in a position to overwhelm most of the league just as Gonzaga overwhelms the WCC.
You can make millions for as long as you want, because it's really hard to lose.
Further proof of that is what's happening down at the Nike Peach Jam.
The Memphis 16-and-under team and the Memphis 17-and-under team have each made the championship games of what is widely viewed as the premier event of the summer circuit. Both teams are loaded with high-major prospects, and most of those high-major prospects grow up wanting to play for the Tigers.
Third-year coach Josh Pastner has already offered scholarships to 17-and-under team members Jarnell Stokes, Shaq Goodwin (who, it should be noted, is not from Memphis but is playing for Memphis and is considering the Tigers) and Austin Nichols, and 16-and-under team members Nick King and Jonathan Williams III. History suggests Pastner will get at least three of those prospects, maybe all five, and one of the stars of the 17-and-under team, Martavious Newby, is practically begging Memphis to recruit him.
So to recap: The Memphis coach has a massive budget, a top-notch arena, a devoted fan base, a loaded natural recruiting base and a league filled with mostly inferior programs that should allow him to cruise through January and February more years than not. Beyond that, the C-USA tournament is played on his homecourt more years than not, meaning he's almost always the favorite to earn the league's automatic bid.
It's a nice setup. If you're wondering why John Calipari stayed nine years and left only for Kentucky, there's your answer.