October 04, 2010
Maybe Will Barton will be remembered like Joe Namath guaranteeing a Super Bowl win for the New York Jets. Maybe he'll turn out to be another Jon Kitna predicting a 10-win season for the Detroit Lions.
Either way, you have to admire the Memphis freshman's youthful confidence and bravado.
At a party at the home of a Memphis booster on Thursday night, Barton grabbed a microphone and told the few hundred fans in attendance, "We're going to win the national championship this year. I'm guaranteeing it!" Then when his guarantee caused a stir after the Memphis Commercial-Appeal published it this weekend, Barton stood by his words via Twitter on Sunday night.
"Everybody making a big fuss abt me guaranteeing we win the national championship but I don't see what the big deal is," Barton wrote. "What was I suppose 2 say? We gonna go 2 NCAA tournament. Think big & do it bigger."
A critic could point out that Barton might have been better off saying nothing at all, there certainly is plenty of reason for optimism at Memphis. The return of Wesley Witherspoon and Will Coleman and the arrival of perhaps the nation's best recruiting class give the Tigers a chance to atone for last season's failure to make the NCAA tournament and reestablish themselves as one of the nation's top teams.
There are plenty of coaches who would cringe at hearing one of his players predict a national title before even suiting up for his first college game, but Memphis coach Josh Pastner appears unfazed by Barton's guarantee.
"We're excited about the expectations," Pastner told the Commercial-Appeal. "That's why this is one of the elite programs in the country. I want to get back to where the bull's-eye is on us every game."