The move that Memphis Tiger fans have been clamoring for is finally happening. Today the University of Memphis joined the Big East in all sports starting in 2013. They are the fourth C-USA team to defect to the new Big East this season (Houston, SMU, and UCF) and they will again be in the same conference as rivals Louisville and Cincinnati. According to the Commercial Appeal, the University of Memphis will have to pay C-USA $6.6 million with $500,000 in exit fees and the other $6.1 million in a per-school share of television rights revenue. So the question all Tiger fans are asking themselves is “What do I have to look forward to in the Big East?” Well look no further than here for that answer.
1. Reuniting with old rivals:
Memphis fans have missed their rivalries with Louisville and Cincinnati the past few years, but they have been reunited and it feels so good. The Tigers have not played Cincinnati in football since the Bearcats left for the Big East, and the rivalry game with Louisville in football appeared to be over with too. Memphis did play Louisville in basketball this year, but that was the first time since the Cardinals left for the Big East that these two have meet on the hardwood. However, now that these old rivals are back expect players, coaches, and fans to be excited about renewing their old hatred for one another. The Tigers lead the all time series with the Bearcats in football 18-12 while they trail the Cardinals in football 23-19. Memphis also trails Louisville in basketball 52-34 and they trail the Bearcats too 36-31.
2. Better games for fans:
Now that the Tigers have joined the Big East the teams that Memphis will play are going be much more attractive to fans. Instead of playing their traditional C-USA schedule, which is usually void of any ranked teams (in both basketball and football), the Tigers will get to play a very competitive Big East schedule. This new schedule will allow for bigger games, more matchups with marquee teams, and more national exposure. This exposure will help in recruiting, bring in more money, and give the fans some better teams to watch. Instead of watching Memphis play Rice in football, fans will get to watch Memphis play Boise State. And can you imagine how exciting it will be when UConn or Notre Dame comes to town? Season ticket sales are sure to increase now that the Tigers are in the Big East.
3. No longer need an at large bid to get into a BCS bowl, but increasing their chances of an at large selection in the NCAA basketball tournament:
In college football BCS bowls are where every team wants to be at the end of the season. And the way it is set up now Memphis needs to go undefeated in conference play and hope that no other non-AQ finishes ranked ahead of them. However, one loss eliminates you from BCS consideration if you are in a non-AQ conference (i.e. Boise State, Houston, and Southern Mississippi from this season). Now all the Tigers have to do in football is win the Big East and they get into a BCS bowl, like West Virginia did this past season. The Mountaineers finished the season ranked behind four non-AQ schools (Boise State, TCU, Houston, and Southern Mississippi), but West Virginia still went to a BCS bowl because of the automatic bid that the Big East has. When we look at this issue from a basketball stand point we see that the Tigers are also better off. A 19-12 record in C-USA is not the same as a 19-12 record in the Big East. If you go 19-12 in the C-USA you have to win the conference tournament to get into the NCAA tournament, but a 19-12 record in Big East play is enough to get you into the big dance on most years.
4. More money:
By joining the Big East Memphis has guaranteed a much larger stream of money in the coming years. BCS bowls bring in millions of dollars for both the participants and their conference, and now Memphis is in a conference that is guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl. Add to it the fact that the Big East has television contracts with ESPN (basketball and football) and CBS (basketball) and the University of Memphis will be bringing in some much needed revenue. Also, the Big East is located in some major media markets on the east coast which will add to the university’s revenue stream.
5. Easier to recruit:
This perk is more about the football program than the basketball program, but it will help them both tremendously. Now Coach Fuente can go into top recruits’ houses and tell them that they will get good national exposure and they will have a chance at a BCS bowl. That is something every recruit wants to hear. No longer will certain SEC schools be able to dismiss Memphis because of their conference affiliation (it almost makes you wonder what is the better job now). Coach Josh Pastner and the basketball program already get solid top notch recruits now, and the Tigers are not in a major conference. Imagine how well he will be able to recruit now that Memphis has joined the Big East. Expect both the basketball and the football programs to begin signing more blue chip recruits now that Memphis has joined the Big East.
CJ Hurt covers college football for MemphiSport. Follow him @churtj09 for insightful tweets about college football and tweets that might change your life.