Sports writers are starting to issue a variety of end-of-decade lists for us to chew on (yes, the '00s are about to end). My colleague Gary Robinson posted Tuesday about a sportingnews.com list of the decade's 10 defining moments in college basketball, of which three had links to Memphis. The Yahoo! college football blog Dr. Saturday featured today a list of the the decade's top scandals in my favorite sport. And, of course, one of them has links to Memphis. You do remember the Albert Means case, don't you?
In 1999, Means's high-school coach, Lynn Lang, all but auctioned Means off to the highest bidder. Alabama was the one that bit, with mega-booster Logan Young allegedly paying Lang a total of $150,000 to steer Means to Tuscaloosa. It was that kind of sprawling kudzu patch of a scandal that included dozens of schools, FBI investigations, allegations that Phil Fulmer tried to submarine Alabama by feeding evidence to the NCAA and lawsuits that have spanned the ensuing decade; when the smoke cleared, 'Bama coach Mike Dubose was out of a job, three people were in jail and the Tide incurred a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 21 scholarships. As far as anyone can ascertain, the Tide only avoided the death penalty by the skin of their teeth, and the scholarship reductions so kneecapped the program that the team went 43-32 over the ensuing six seasons and had more new-coach searches than bowl wins.