There is going to be a mass scramble of schools that are going to want to fill the void when Texas A&M leaves the Big 12, and it only makes since for Memphis to jump into the fray. Adding Memphis will allow the Big 12 to expand their market by adding viewers in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Now is the time for Memphis to make a compelling case for why they deserve to join the Big 12.
One reason Memphis should join the Big 12 is because they have the facilities to not only compete in the conference, but also make the Big 12 more marketable. Think about it, how many college basketball players play in a professional arena? Not many. FedExForum seats over 18,000 people and when the Memphis Tigers play the stadium is one of the best atmospheres in college basketball.
Also, Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium is amongst the best and most recognizable stadiums in all of college football. Its signature lopsidedness with the southwest side being taller than the northeast side is a uniqueness that not many stadiums offer. Add to it the over 60,000 fans that the Liberty Memorial Stadium can hold and Memphis football would create an unbelievable atmosphere for the Big 12.
Another reason it makes since for the Big 12 to add Memphis is because Memphis can and will compete with the other teams in the conference in every sport, including basketball and football. Can you imagine what a basketball program with the recent success Memphis has had can bring to a conference that already has perennial power Kansas? Kansas vs. Memphis in FedExForum, those games would be epic! The seeds for such a rivalry were planted in 2008 when the two teams meet in the championship game.
While Memphis football is currently rebuilding, if the Tigers can be placed in a big conference they will quickly get the recruits necessary to compete. The Mid-South is loaded with football talent causing it to become a recruiting hub for SEC schools (especially LSU, Mississippi St., Ole Miss, and Arkansas). The schools from major conferences are able to get those players over Memphis because they have more play in a major conference with more exposure while Memphis plays in C-USA and gets virtually no exposure. However, should Memphis join the Big 12 the playing field will become equal for Memphis as far as recruiting is concerned. Honestly, what is the difference in Ole Miss, Mississippi St., Arkansas, and Memphis football? Memphis plays in C-USA and the other three play in the SEC. With a coach who can recruit like Coach Porter Memphis will be competing for a Big 12 title in a span of one full recruiting class (or four years).
Lastly the University of Memphis fans create one of the best atmospheres in college athletics. They are passionate, enthusiastic, and will pack stadiums for games which will bring in money for the Big 12 Conference. Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium may not be packed for games against UCF or East Carolina, but just wait until Mizzo or those Sooners come in for a game. They will find out real quick how hostile Memphis fans can be.
The University of Memphis is ripe right now and is ready to be picked by a major conference. If the Big 12 is smart they will add Memphis before other conferences begin to show an interest.
C.J. Hurt covers Memphis Tiger Football for MemphiSport. Follow him on twitter @churtj09 for live tweets from all Tiger Football home games this season.