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Talk hoops all year long in Luke Winn's blog, a journal of commentary, news and reader-driven discussions about the college game.
11/15/2006 12:03:00 AM

The Memphis Gaffe

Memphis fans: You're ticked. And I'm ticked too -- at myself. So I'm going to try to do the right thing and set the record straight: In the projected NCAA tournament field that appears in this week's SI preview issue, the Tigers were NOT intentionally left out of the Field of 65.

I, and everyone else in our college hoops gang, fully believe the Tigers are going to win the Conference USA. Handily win the C-USA. They were No. 13 in the Power Rankings I posted on the site in October, and were similarly ranked in the ballot I submitted this summer. (The rankings in the magazine are a collaborative effort, an internal poll of sorts -- they aren't solely my opinion.)

When I wrote the blurbs for the rest of the field, I mistakenly believed Memphis would be among the top 16 featured in our Scouting Reports ... and only put Houston, our No. 2 team from the C-USA, in the 17-65 section. I've spoken with our editors who read the piece and they too, confirmed that had the oversight been spotted, the Tigers would have been in the bracket. But this one is on me.

To recap: There is no SI conspiracy against Memphis. There was an honest mistake made (mine). And I'm sorry.

As an addendum, here are a few more specific replies to the hordes of irate e-mails that poured in tonight:

• No, I did not smoke crack and decide that Houston would win the C-USA.
• I'd appreciate it if you did not make good on your threat to use physical force if I ever set foot in FedEx Forum.
• I promise that hours and hours of work go into those tourney picks -- thorough research of each conference race, roster assessments, etc. -- and we do take them very seriously. And a mistake like this in SI is not acceptable. But I don't think being shot or banished from the college basketball world is a reasonable punishment.

The only bright side to this: You can brag to your less-informed friends that Memphis is your sleeper pick this year ... and when the Tigers make a Final Four run, claim to have known all along that, even though those "experts" at SI left them unranked, you knew Calipari and the boys had potential.
posted by Luke Winn | View comments (48) |


Posted: 1:02 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Give me a freaking break. Did you not even bother to look at who you had 1-16? Pathetic. Do you actually get paid to cover college basketball? Your explanantion makes no sense. How do you leave a team that made it to the elite 8 last year completely out of your tournament preview. Pretty amateur. Maybe you ought to go back to covering highschool basketball.
Posted: 1:06 AM   by Blogger Luke Winn
thanks for understanding and sympathy, anonymous. I'm not sure how many ways I can say I made a mistake here -- but that's what happened.
Posted: 1:13 AM   by Anonymous Joe
Thank you for your apology. As a fellow sports journalist I understand that mistakes do happen. If things pan out like us Memphis fans predict, how about some recognition in March this time? Thanks again. Apology accepted.
Go Tigers Go!
Posted: 1:21 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Good deal. Sorry we gave you such a hard time about it. I understand that mistakes happen, but it is unacceptable. Ha ha, just kidding.
Posted: 1:23 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Luke, you have to understand, we Memphis fans are a little sensitive. We are still angry over the last time we got the shaft from SI back in March of 1985 with your cover showing three of the four Final Four participants (all but Memphis). Your apology is accepted, but we still intend to burn you in effigy before the Jackson State game this Thursday. -JMSTiger
Posted: 1:26 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Luke - When I did not see Memphis on the list, I knew it was a mistake. Alas, no one is infallible. Not to mention the fact that of all the college basketball reporters, you usually seem to be the highest on Memphis. So, thank you. - A rational Memphis fan
Posted: 1:36 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Honest Mistake, you've explained yourself and even apologized. This just shows how much people hang on the words of what every sports writer and sports analyst writes or says. No problem Luke, everyone makes mistakes....glad you fixed it and took the blame. Meanwhile, watch out for the X this year baby...Drew Lavender is going to add a whole new element to an already good basketball team.
Posted: 1:46 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
I was ready to throw a temper tantrum myself... wow! (Laughing) When I saw the note on the bottom of the page "Looking for Memphis?", I started looking over my shoulder for some kind of stalker. Thanks for setting the record straight.
Posted: 2:39 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Thanks for the apology and the explanation. On behalf of those of us who simply questioned the logic of the omission - accept an apology for anyone remotely connected to the Memphis program or fan base who were overly zealous in their tone or content. (Probably just jealous Ole Miss or Tennessee fans posing a members of the great Tiger Nation and who are widely renowned for their slovenly manners, poor hygiene, and extremely limited mental capacity.
Posted: 5:18 AM   by Anonymous GreekWolf Mike
Luke, on behalf of the University of Memphis fanbase, I am truly sorry for the way a few jackwads have responded to you this evening. In fact, I would even question if these individuals are really part of the Memphis Tiger fanbase at all. They certainly do NOT represent the vast majority of us.

I have always enjoyed reading your blogs in the past and appreciate the information you provide. Thanks for taking the time to address an issue which, to be completely honest, is at best trivial and not even worth mentioning. Thanks also to SI.com for giving some attention and respect to non-BCS schools like Memphis and Gonzaga.
Posted: 7:39 AM   by Anonymous Bralyn
You're human and we're subject to error, so I won't hold this against you. Games are won on the court and not in magazines or preseason hype shows. I have been a Memphis fan as long as I can remember seeing basketball. There are certain things that as a fan you don't forget: The Tic Price debacle (blessing in disguise) to D. Wash missing the free throws against Louisville (getting misty eyed), but your mistake is a forgivable one; and I must say give you cudos for acknowledging the omission. I'm looking forward to seeing what my young and talented Tigers will do under the guidance of Coach Cal. Remember, that mistakes only happen once...a second time would be a pattern.
Posted: 7:43 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
You're human and we're subject to error, so I won't hold this against you. Games are won on the court and not in magazines or preseason hype shows. I have been a Memphis fan as long as I can remember seeing basketball. We have had some tough moments: the Tic Price debacle (blessing in disguise) and D. Wash missing the free throws against the school from Kentucky (getting misty eyed), but I don't consider this worthy of that kind of emotion. Time to prepare mentally for the season and enjoy seeing what my young and talented Tigers will do under the guidance of Coach Cal. Remember, that mistakes only happen once...a second time would be a pattern.
Posted: 9:30 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
I'm assuming you left my Providence Friars off on the same sort of mistake.
Posted: 10:26 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
When I reviewed the top 16 and didn't find Memphis, I wasn't surprised as we lost three key personnel from last year's team. As I went through the bracket, didn't see them top 25, didn't see them in top 40, didn't see them in top 50 then NOT AT ALL, my first thought was not kind and an "Aw, this is &*&&^^#!", then, I see the blurb at the bottom of the page. Apology more than accepted. I truly hope we are as good as expected this year. We have a good team, but still a very young team, so a sweet 16 or great eight run would truly make my basketball season. We all make mistakes. As said by another poster, once is a mistake, twice is a pattern. I don't see a pattern here. Thanks for the acknowledgement and look forward to your blog in the future. -A True Tiger - Memphis born, raised, and educuated, my alma mater, Memphis State University (aka U of M for the recent graduates.)
Posted: 10:29 AM   by Blogger Jeremy Sykes
The fact that you took the time to write this blog post, Luke, demonstrates that you are, in fact, a journalist with high standards. Your (and your SI colleagues') coverage of college basketball is second to none. Thus, you're allowed minor mistakes like this one every now and then, in my mind, anyway ;)
Incidentally, are you aware of where the rest of the staff ranked Memphis?
Posted: 11:14 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Please do not be too hard on us Memphis fans, if we seem to think there is more to this than just a mistake. We constantly have to live with a local press corp ran and controlled by SEC graduates. After years and years of getting treated like a step child in our own home, some Tiger fans get suspicious of all media outlets. It is not as bad in basketball as it is in football, but we actually have days where teams such as ole miss and tenn get more coverage on air in the Memphis market than the Tigers.
Posted: 1:08 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Ahh, a sports reporter who will admit they made a mistake. A great day indeed. maybe we can get a nice long article about Memphis at a later date to make up for this.

Go Tigers!
Posted: 2:28 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Memphis is going to take your magazine and shove it up your ass
Posted: 3:45 PM   by Anonymous Sara
No worries, Luke. Mistakes happen.

For me, I don't sweat it if my team is shown no love (incidentally, thanks for the love for Pitt!) because even though I love reading all the preseason picks and covereage, I know they're just predictions. Regardless of the preseason hype and projections, I know that it's really up to my team to play well--it doesn't really matter who picks them to do so (or doesn't).

Either way, I am a fan of the blog--I loved the tourney blog so was psyched to see a regular-season one. Bring on the season!
Posted: 4:05 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Luke as a Memphis fan it is hard to believe that this is a mistake from your publication.......Do you and your fellow journalist proof read and review your articles before publication? I find this hard to believe from a magazine like Sports Illustrated...do you think you would have noticed if you left Duke off? We all know the answer to that....I hope you and your great publication are eating some serious crow come the first of April.
Posted: 4:24 PM   by Anonymous tigers1985
It's all good. Then again, I'll be in Maui watching the Tigers in a couple of days... so pretty much anything is all good. We were just surprised, that's all.
Posted: 11:51 PM   by Blogger ndifference
Luke, next time use the force.
Posted: 12:37 AM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Luke, All is forgiven...even the greatest sports journalists make mistakes!
Posted: 10:42 AM   by Blogger Coach

Since I'm a nice guy, I accept your mea culpa. But, because I want to see the Tigers program develop the same type of respect that Kansas and UNC get, I'm going to stir up the fan base to be as loud and obnoxious as humanly possible.

"Boycott SI"
"Send Hate Mail"
"Write Letters"
"Call Your Congressman"
"Buy magazines"
"Attend the games"
"Buy and wear Tiger gear"
"Support the Tiger Nation"
Posted: 12:13 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Let's make it right, thanks for posting your comments - great opportunity for SI to get some great pub in Memphis - show up at a home game - buy Pizza for the entire student section and you personally deliver the pizza! Great opportunity to turn this into a great deal!
Posted: 1:42 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
I almost had a heart attack when I saw the article in SI.
I was starting to worry about seeing Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Robert Morris in the tournament. Maybe it'll be on bulletin board material for Jackson State?
Alas, you must have mistaken our basketball team for our football team, who wouldn't of even made the Top 100.
-Mostly Rational Tiger Fan
Posted: 2:59 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Oldtiger is not happy in Memphis about this gaffe. Oh yea - this is not the BCS and we actually play to see who the best team is.

Posted: 7:19 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
No hard feelings towards you personally, Luke. But do me a favor......don't hang out with Seth Davis so much......when it comes to the Tigers he's about as fair and balanced as FOXNEWS. When March rolls around and everyone points towards the top four teams and the biggest sleepers...don't be afraid to look at the great teams stuck in lousy conferences......John Calipari is earning his paycheck and reinvigorating the Tiger program despite the unimpressive lineup in CUSA.....yet even with our first #1 NCAA seed last year, pundits like Davis and others couldn't even find a breath to praise the Tigers chances with...part of me thinks that even if the Tigers had won last year....Davis would have claimed the other team lost. So....apology accepted.....but you owe us a plug or two.....thanks for being gracious!

(The Tiger Faithful in Denver)
Posted: 8:35 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Some things, Luke, are far too absurd to be believed or accepted. The apology was a nice touch, very professional - but it just boggles my mind that Memphis gets left out of the Field of 65, no matter how you try to explain it away.

The humorous part about this is that John Calipari got hammered nationally for making "Us Against the World" and "We Aren't Respected Nationally" comments. When he got invited on all sorts of national TV shows, it rang even hollower. But now, as far as I'm concerned, Coach Cal should have carte blanche to use such a ploy anytime for, oh, say the next decade or two. I can't IMAGINE Kansas, Duke, LSU, Ohio State, North Carolina or Florida being left out of your article. SOMEONE would have caught your mistake, Luke. So it's not just you, it's the entire staff.

As I look around the SI site, I don't see a buzz commensurate with what the U of M is doing. All the recruiting trail experts are saying the Tigers have garnered a Top 5 Class but we're mysteriously pinched out of the Top 10. You explain away the gaffe of leaving them out of the Sweet Sixteen and the Field of 65, but it doesn't ring true to me. It's just a lack of respect for the program.

I'll say one more thing: I'm going to remember this "Memphis Gaffe" every time I even THINK about buying or subscribing to SI. I have a LONG memory. Both sides of my family tree are notable for producing people who lived well into their 90s. This "Gaffe" may have cost SI a few dollars they otherwise would - and should - have made. (It always comes back to money somehow, doesn't it?)
Posted: 9:19 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. You, my friend, just sealed the Tigers destiny. A cursed publication such as yours leaving the Tigers out of your magazine entirely... there is no way we won't win it all this year. Will you lead the parade in Memphis in early April? All the Central BBQ you want when you're here, I got you covered. Now... will you please, please get SI to not mention the Grizzlies for a couple of years?
Posted: 12:05 AM   by Anonymous John Calipari
It's fine Luke. Got used to the lack of respect last year when everyone griped about us being overrated, not deserving a 1 seed etc. Remember last year we were supposed to be the first seed to lose to a 16 seed. People that should know better actually predicted this, or at least admitted (wished?) they thought it was possible.

We are underrated at 13, but it doesn't matter.

Oh if you see the dude who wrote an article about how bad we are as an outside shooting team tell him we shot 42% from three point land in our first regular season game.

Posted: 12:07 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
All of you Memphis fans who think that this is some sort of conspiracy against your program need to get a grip on reality. If Luke Winn hadn't made an honest mistake, why would he have taken the time to write an apology? You people wonder why Memphis doesn't get covered by the local media like UT or Ole Miss, it's because we don't act like freaking 2 year olds when something like this happens...oh, and both of those teams have beaten D-IA opponents this year.

For the rest of you that acted like rational adults, please explain to the 3 or 4 fools that they are giving your fanbase a bad name - similar to all of the Memphis football fans who cussed UT fans out before the 'big' football game earlier this year at the Liberty Bowl and told the UT fans how bad Memphis was going to beat UT. How'd that turn out for you? And after UT beats Memphis is basketball this year, I don't want to hear about a conspiracy against your beloved team.
Posted: 12:39 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
You were gracious to accept responsibility for the error. We look forward to fair coverage.
Thanks for the courtesy to respond.
Posted: 12:19 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Tell that jerk UT (U Tink!) fan that he better pray we Loyal Tiger Fans don't create such a lopsided win for Tiger Nation at TB Arena that the Vol fanbase doesn't defect due to their incompetence.
Posted: 12:19 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
I believe it was a mistake but c'mon man. How does this happen? I can't ever imagine a Duke, Syracuse, or even a Louisville being left out because of an oversight. Editor's anyone? Anybody got some editors? I think SI has some openings! If this was your school you would react the same way! It was a mistake but it still does a disservice to the University, the coaches, the players, as well as the fans. SI’s SD may talk about Memphis but there is always a negative slant to his remarks.
Posted: 1:04 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
I understand the mistake, but the apology still doesn't "fix" it. So now FIX it.
Posted: 3:10 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Overlooking Memphis when making tourney predictions is one thing.

But forgetting to put Matt Doherty and the SMU Mustangs in your tournament is such an egregious mistake that I can no longer read what you have to say.

You clearly know nothing about basketball. A potential #1 seed is left out of your tournament picks as well as leaving out a decent Memphis squad? come on.
Posted: 6:42 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Don't know about a No. 1 seed, but glossing over the Ponies is a mistake, even this year. With largely the same cast as last year, the team already is MUCH better than last year, and still is learning about Coach Doherty and his staff, and their expectations. I've watched the Ponies for nearly 20 years, and they already are playing better defense than any team I can remember. Coach Doherty is building something impressive in Dallas, and building it fast.

With apologies to our bretheren at the University of Maryland: FEAR THE PONY!
Posted: 2:27 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Luke, here's the deal. When you come to Memphis, bring Wahl with you, but get him a rug first, something that resembles your I-will-suppose-natural hair. I say this because as others have said, you apologized for your MISTAKE, you have been fair and positive about the Tigers, but your buddy Wahl didn't even put 'em in his Top 20 - man, what a rube!

Oh, maybe make him wear a t-shirt with something on it like, "Hi, I'm Luke Winn."

At the least, make your so-called peer watch some Tiger games with you. Having been in-my-seat at the opener, I'm tellin' folks that this year's team would have beaten last year's group by at least low-double-digits, had they opened against each other. We'll know more in the next 36 hours or so, but this year's TEAM looks WAY BETTER than last year's patchwork of extreme individual talent. No disrespect to 'em, but I'm glad D-Wash and Shawne left early. Of course, only a fool wouldn't miss Rodney "Rocketman" Carney.

Steve in Memphis
Posted: 4:01 PM   by Anonymous Gary Meyer
At your level of jornalisim /professionalism this oversight is not acceptable.
I suggest you re-post the entire field of 65 and include U of M in at least the top 20.
Posted: 6:20 PM   by Anonymous Ken from Memphis
I have subscribed to SI magazine for 3 years now. The ONLY reason is for NCAA basketball, including obviously my Memphis Tigers. I am thinking seriously about ending my subscription. Not just about this, but about lack of respect for my Tiger team. Maybe things will change now that Gary Parish is on staff. BTW did Gary see your 65 team projections? I'll bet he didn't.
Posted: 4:57 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Ken get your facts straight... Gary's not with SI, he's with CBS Sportsline! C'mon Memphians, if your going to post check your facts.
Posted: 7:49 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
You must really think the ACC still stinks. Got news for you- check out the new freshman class- bigger, better, and faster. By the way, I think Gary Williams will appreciate being under everyone's radar- check out the Terps come February! Fear the Turtle! My money's on Gary!
Posted: 7:50 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
You must really think the ACC still stinks. Got news for you- check out the new freshman class- bigger, better, and faster. By the way, I think Gary Williams will appreciate being under everyone's radar- check out the Terps come February! Fear the Turtle! My money's on Gary!
Posted: 9:35 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
I hope Memphis is so upset that it leaves the NCAA and joins the NAIA, if nothing else, just for the sake of all the perfect "I've never made a mistake myself" fans out there. Then SI won't have to worry about them ever being covered again.
Posted: 11:43 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
ive got to admit i was pretty upset when i didnt see memphis on the list and not bc i thought si thought they werent good enough but bc i knew si completely overlooked and forgot sbout them that wouldnt happen to Duke so as you can tell Luke im still not really happy about it but i do accept your apology and appreciate the fact that you realized your mistake and actually ACKNOWELDGED it bc most sportwriters wouldnt have
Posted: 1:47 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Don't worry . .Luke, you WONT BE ABLE TO MISTAKE MEMPHIS come March!!!!
Posted: 6:38 PM   by Anonymous Anonymous
Sheesh! memphis fans are just a bunch of crying babies. People make mistakes! Give the guy a break!