Naturally, Big Orange fans say Calipari is scared, pointing to Tennessee's 76-58 drubbing of the 16th-ranked Tigers Dec. 6, 2006 at Knoxville as Exhibit A.
In his ongoing quest to end the home-and-home series with UT, Calipari has suggested a compromise. Instead of playing in Knoxville and Memphis, he proposes that the Vols and Tigers meet at Nashville each year in a game he suggests be dubbed "The Governor's Cup."
When asked for his reaction to the proposal, Vol coach Bruce Pearl flashed a smug grin.
"I didn't know that Governor Bredesen had contacted the presidents of the universities and asked for a Governor's Cup," Pearl deadpanned. "If Governor Bredesen wanted it, I would certainly – as serving the commonwealth – be happy to consider it."
The Vol coach has absolutely no desire to move the game site to Nashville on a permanent basis. He was happy to see the Tigers' visit fill Thompson-Boling Arena last December. And he's OK with paying a return visit to Memphis this season on Feb. 23.
"I like the series," Pearl said. "I don't like going to Memphis but I certainly like Memphis coming to Knoxville."
The Vol coach rewarded UT fans' support last year by bringing in such high-profile opposing players as Texas' Kevin Durant and D.J. Augustin, along with Memphis' Joey Dorsey. This year's home schedule includes a Jan. 19 visit from talent-rich Ohio State.
"I'm really proud and pleased that our fans got to see Kevin Durant and got to see John Calipari and his team," Pearl said. "John is one of the greatest coaches in the business, and he's got a No. 2 ranked team this year. I don't want to deny our fans here at Tennessee the opportunity to see Memphis basketball at a period of time when it's as good as it's ever been.
"I'd like to continue to honor the contract that we currently have."