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We might not have known who all would be involved, but we all knew conference expansion would pick back up some day. Recent rumors have the Big 12 looking to add at least two more teams so that they can have a conference championship game and actually have “one true champion” (ignore this year’s PSA from the Big 12). The two teams that are believed to be on the Big 12 radar are Cincinnati and Memphis.
This move makes a ton of sense for everyone involved. In fact, Memphis joining the Big 12 makes so much sense that I suggested it be done way back in 2011.
The basic points remain the same as to why the Big 12 should add the Tigers. A strong fan base, good facilities, and marketability are all reasons why it is logical for the Big 12 to want a team like Memphis.
However, there are more reasons why they should want Memphis. Here are Five Reasons Why the Big 12 Should Add the University of Memphis…
1). The Tigers have a football team on the rise.
In the past, one of the issues Memphis ran into during conference realignment was the fact that their football team was not up to snuff. This is no longer the case, as finally the Tigers have a football team that is more than respectable.
They are Co-Champions of the American Athletic Conference and have an outside chance of making it to a “New Year’s Six Bowl”. The job head coach Justin Fuente has done in three short years is truly laudable. With coach Fuente leading the way this Tigers football program should remain relevant for several years to come.
One of the things that matter most in conference realignment is football, and now that the Tigers are good it is only logical that the Big 12 strike while the coal is hot.
2). Mid-Southerners love college football and will support a quality team in a quality conference.
You might wonder why it matters if the Mid-South is full of passionate fans. After all, passion and enthusiasm for college football is all over this great country.
The Mid-South is very similar to the Midwest, West Coast, and Southwest in that one “Power Five” conference dominates the college football landscape for the individual regions. SEC football is all that Mid-Southerners care about, and it is clear to see why with the recent success of the conference. Add to it the fact that the Mid-South is home to three teams that play in the SEC (Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Arkansas) and you have a region that is as die hard as any in the nation.
The way fans in the area thirst for college football is unlike any other region and if the Big 12 adds Memphis they will get a piece of that fervor. Sure SEC will still reign supreme, but there are enough die hard Tigers fans in the area for the Big 12 to gain a significant following and a get a substantial number of supporters.
3). It may not seem like it now, but Memphis has a good basketball program.
There is no doubt that football is the driving force behind conference realignment. However, adding a university that has a basketball program as exceptional as the Memphis Tigers is a good thing too.
If you ignore this season’s struggles, you will see that Memphis is a program that has a slew of conference championships over the past decade, and the Tigers have only missed out on the NCAA Tournament once since 2003. A basketball program like the one Memphis has can be another money maker for the Big 12, which loves raking in the doe.
The Tigers will also add more prestige to a conference that already has national powerhouse Kansas and several of good programs like Texas and Iowa State.
4). Geographically, speaking adding Memphis will help connect West Virginia to the rest of the Big 12.
We all knew that travel was going to be an issue for the Mountaineers when the Big 12 decided to add West Virginia in 2012. The Mountaineers are on the East Coast while most of the Big 12 sits in the Southwest. The nearest conference foe to West Virginia sits two states away across Kentucky and Missouri into Kansas.
That type of travel can really wear down an athletic department’s budget. It also annoys coaches, athletic directors, and players as well.
With the addition of both Memphis and Cincinnati to the Big 12 the conference can split into two division like the rest of the “Power Five” conferences. One can only assume the Tigers, Bearcats and Mountaineers would comprise the East Division of the Big 12. A Big 12 East will certainly cut down on the travel that West Virginia has to do and allow for a healthier Big 12.
5). Adding Memphis will give the Big 12 another top 50 media market.
The Big 12 has a television deal worth 2.5 billion dollars through 2025, which is not too shabby. However, there is always more money to be had and adding yet another top 50 media market will help the conference get more doe when time comes to negotiate another television deal.
As it stands right now there are five top 50 media markets in Big 12 territory. They are Austin, Oklahoma City, Houston, San Antonio and Dallas. If you have not noticed, all but one of these media markets reside in Texas.
Bringing in Memphis will give the conference yet another top 50 media market, while simultaneously increasing its footprint in another part of the country. The Big 12 will no longer be so dependent on the Texas schools to carry the burden of marketability from a media perspective. This diversity in markets will certainly equate to more dollars when the next television contract comes up.
- Week 15 TAM Rankings
- MSL’s Playing Hurt Podcast: Memphis to the Big 12 Edition
- MSL Interview: Congressman Cohen Talks About Memphis Tigers Football and Moats