As the Memphis/Tennessee basketball game continually approaches, the beef between coaches Penny Hardaway and Rick Barnes continues.
Last season, Tennessee traveled down to Memphis to take on the Tigers for the first of three seasons in this renewed series. The Vols controlled nearly the entire game, as Admiral Schofield continued his hot streak. While the Vols ended up winning 102-92, the final score wasn’t the most talked-about thing regarding the game.
With under a minute left, Jordan Bone found himself in front of the Memphis bench as a timeout was being called. While in front of the bench, Bone said something, and in turn, had a number of Tiger players surround him, as well as Hardaway, who put a hand on him and basically pushed him out of the little scuffle. While that really didn’t seem like much, Hardaway said after the game that Tennessee players “balled their fists up” as they were heading near the Memphis bench.
A year later, the talk about this game has continued to heat up. Not only has it started to heat up between the coaches, but the fans have also started to trash talk either team.
The other day, Barnes was asked about the series possibly being renewed after this three-season series. During the interview, Barnes said he didn’t believe that the series would be renewed after this stretch. A number of people, especially those from Memphis, took offense to Barnes saying that. Hardaway answered on Tuesday, stating he would like to see Tennessee on the schedule after this series, stating “the state needs it.”
On Tuesday, a number of media members from Memphis went after Barnes for saying that he didn’t want to renew the series between the two teams.
It's pretty sad Rick Barnes is going to selfishly rob both fanbases and the state of a game that means so much https://t.co/f0twuroFNj
— Blake Morgan (@blakemorgan123) November 19, 2019
Penny Hardaway takes the high road. So how about it, Rick Barnes? Column: https://t.co/rz4HbsMHZk
— Geoff Calkins (@geoff_calkins) November 19, 2019
Here’s my stance on the whole situation:
I do think it would be fun to have this series played throughout the years as Hardaway and Barnes are the head coaches, especially considering the talent that Tennessee will have come through the next couple of seasons. But, I completely understand Barnes not wanting this series to continue.
Over the past year, Hardaway has accused Tennessee players of “balling their fists up” and attacked Barnes by telling him to “get the (expletive) out of here.” Now be realistic here: do you really think it would smart to have Tennessee renew a series with a team from the AAC that has only taken shots at the school over the past year?
While Morgan might think Barnes is robbing the fanbases of a game that means so much, don’t you think Penny deserves some of the blame as well? I wouldn’t want to schedule another series with another team that’s consistently torn down the other during the past year. Barnes was all for this series, but after the stuff between him and Hardaway went down, I don’t blame him one bit for switching his stance.
While Calkins might think that Hardaway is taking the high road here, I think it’s the other way around. This isn’t something Barnes wants to be a part of and I don’t blame him. I see him being the bigger adult here, considering Penny has been childish over the last year.
Listen all trash talk aside, this just isn’t Rick Barnes style. He’s not going to engage in a yearly rival that takes away from the game itself and turns into a trash talk media battle. Both schools can fill that spot on the schedule and easily fill their stadiums.
— Nic (@Nic_Vol) November 19, 2019
Penny can't expect to throw Barnes under the bus, act like a kid, and expect Tennessee to renew the rival.
Memphis literally did this to themselves, and I don't understand why people are blaming Barnes.
— Basketball School🏀 (@TotalVolsMove) November 20, 2019
These tweets perfectly describe my outlook on this whole situation. If they don’t renew this rivalry, Tennessee can easily fill this void on the schedule. Meanwhile, this is the biggest game for Memphis on their schedule. For Tennessee, they’ve scheduled tougher opponents that would help their case for the NCAA Tournament throughout the years. Not saying that Memphis won’t be a tough team, but Tennessee has placed themselves in tough tournaments over the past few seasons, including games against Gonzaga and Kansas last season, and games against Washington, Florida State, Wisconsin and SEC opponents in Florida, Kentucky, LSU, and Auburn.
This matchup between the two teams on Dec. 14 will feature a ton of hostility towards one another and I’m sure both fanbases are looking forward to this rivalry.