On Thursday, we learned that Memphis’ 2007-08 season never actually happened as the NCAA stripped away all of the program’s 38 wins due to the fact that Derrick Rose was not eligible to play in any of those games — including the Tigers’ appearance in the national championship game. No more Final Four banner in the FedEx Forum.
Officially, all of the egg in this case goes on the face of Memphis, which no longer gets to celebrate the greatest season in school history. Ironically, neither of the two people who have the most culpability in this case — Rose and former coach John Calipari — will have to pay any penalty for it.
But as bad as this will reflect on Memphis for the rest of eternity, it would have been much, much more embarrassing for the NCAA if not for the heroics of Mario Chalmers.
Chalmers, as you remember, was the Kansas guard who nailed an improbable 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the championship game into overtime, where the Jayhawks won. Of course, that possibility was set up by Rose missing one of two free throws at the other end — so maybe karma does play a role in these things.
But could you imagine the embarrassment for the NCAA if the 2007 national champion was forever listed as “Vacated?” There have been plenty of Final Four teams who have since had the infamous eraser taken to their Final Four apperances, with the Fab Five teams of Michigan being the most notable examples. But never has an NCAA champion seen their title stripped.
Which begs a question — if Memphis had won, would the NCAA taken a different course of punishment to avoid that scenario?
I think we can all venture to guess the answer to that question. But thanks to Mario Chalmers, we’ll never know. And for that the rules police in Indy should be permanently grateful.