Razorback fans living in Memphis: be strong.
You'll need to be because ESPN.com has given Tiger fans yet another bragging right over their Hog-loving rivals. In case you haven't heard, the Worldwide Leader in Sports has compiled its list of the most prestigious college basketball programs since the 1984-85 season.
The Hogs slide in at No. 15. Not too bad, you might say, especially considering the all-out crappy play that plagued the program throughout too much of this decade. The good feelings — if you can call them that — won't last long, however. To be exact, they will last as long as the time it takes your eyes to scroll down to No. 14. That's where the Memphis Tigers – at one point perhaps the Razorbacks' biggest rival — reside.
First, Memphis coach John Calipari says Arkansas is not a "national program" and discontinues the annual series between the schools. Next, Memphis has completely and thoroughly outshone the Hogs for the past five years or so. Then, when Frank of the Ozarks calls Calipari to see if he's interested in the Arkansas job, it apparently takes the Tigers coach less than a nanosecond to say, "No." And now, this ESPN ranking.
Oh, the humiliation.
When this rivalry was at its height in the 1990s, there was no team I hated losing to more than Memphis. I don't have that level of animosity any more, thanks to court-ordered counseling and to my befriending a couple of Tigers fans over the years. I even found myself rooting for Memphis during the past few NCAA Tournaments.
Still, when those friends invite me over, I'd like to have something to gloat about for a change.