5 Reasons Why The Big 12 Should Add The University Of Memphis

big 12We 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.


CJ Hurt covers college football for MemphiSport. Follow him 
@conradicalness for live tweets from games.


  1. I know they had a pathetic season but Vanderbilt is a lot closer to Memphis than Fayetteville, AR.

  2. BIG Daddy $ says:

    The only thing that Memphis beats BYU in 5 things is geography. Salt Lake City is 33rd media market while Memphis is 49th (Cincinnati 35th). Also BYU has a lot better history as a good squad then Memphis does.

    • Yes… but BYU adds another time zone and stretches the conference across the country. When the BIG 12 added WVU, they basically committed to expanding East, NOT West. Cincy and Memphis help that.

      • Wrong again. Nobody wants to watch Memphis. By adding BYU the Big 12 now can have a game in prime time on the West Coast. Having a game to take away some of the Pac 12 audience is much more valuable than Memphis in time zones where the Big 12 already has more desirable teams to watch than Memphis. Understand… Memphis Adds NOTHING to the Big 12.

  3. Serious? Those are your five good reasons. WOW!!! Those are the strongest reasons to add Memphis to the Big 12. Seriously?? I am a grad from a Pac 10 (now Pac 12) school, so I am a Pac 12 snob. However, in every argument made in this article, BYU is a vastly better choice for the big 12 than Memphis… academics, athletic programs, financial, and prestige.
    1. BYU’s football program is a proven program and will be much more competitive than Memphis EVER will be in the Big 12. One decent year ever 10 years does not make a good program. (Terrible Argument)
    2. The U.S. is filled with passionate college football fans. Passionate fans are not something that you will only find in the south. BYU has fans all over the country… the North, South, East Coast, Midwest, and West Coast. And… BYU fans will sell travel games much better than Memphis fans. (Another Terrible Argument)
    3. Oh Yes… whenever I think of prestigious college basketball programs, my first thoughts are Kansas, Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Memphis. Yes, that was said with complete sarcasm!! There is no prestige with Memphis basketball. The only time Memphis was really relevant in college basketball is when Calipari was coach and violating NCAA rules. Yes that is prestigious. (Poor Argument)
    4. The Big 12 adding a Cincinnati will give West Virginia a travel partner and will more connect WV to the rest of the conference every bit as much as Memphis. As where BYU gives a marketable school in the west. (Another Poor Argument)
    5. Okay… As the previous person stated, The Salt Lake City is much bigger than Memphis. AND, BYU dominate the SLC market, much more so than University of Utah does. I am willing to bet that Memphis cannot even win its own market when competing with Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Memphis adds nothing to TV contract negotiations, no footprint whatsoever. As Where… BYU has a BIG following in California and the West, more than any of the schools now in the Big 12. So, adding BYU gives the Big 12 a bigger Western and National footprint that they have never had. BYU’s following is big enough that espn has all BYU home football games under contract. (Pathetic Argument)
    Conclusion… Memphis offers the Big 12 NOTHING over BYU and Cincinnati.

    • Not debating the fact that BYU brings a lot more eyes to the table. The Mormon network reaches into every corner of the US, so there is no competition there.

      However, let me correct your “opinions” with fact,

      1) Salt Lake City Metro area population is approximately 1.1 million. Memphis Metro area population is approximately 1.3 million. In fact, the city of Memphis (653k) has a larger population than the SLC (191k). So, SLC is not much larger than Memphis.

      2) Both SI (#15) and ESPN (#19) have ranked the Memphis basketball program top 20 all time. BYU gets honorable mention and #36 respectively in same evaluations. See bit.ly/1ADpTWN and es.pn/1ADqesA.

      3) Logistically, Memphis and Cincy do give WVU more convenient travel options. To deny the obvious geographic alignment is a bit disingenuous.

      4) The Memphis football program is not the pride and joy of the school. However, Memphis had a really good run in mid 2000. The D’Angelo Williams/Stephen Gostowski years were productive.

      My opinion: The Big 12 doesn’t not expand. The football playoffs will quickly evolve to an 8 then 16 team model. Under both scenarios, the Big 12 guarantees itself at least 1 spot every year.

  4. This is not about BYU or Memphis joining the big 12.

  5. Mark D in OB says:

    You forgot to mention our fine Airport! #shoutout2RCwhereveryouare

  6. Big 12 needs to add:

    1. Cincinnati
    2. Memphis
    3. Central Florida
    4. Temple

    You can make a case all day long about BYU, UConn, or even Houston, but at the end of the day the Big 12 is heading east. By adding the 4 teams I suggested you:

    1. Increase the footprint in large markets.

    2. Open up recruiting in MAJOR talent producing states (Ohio, Florida, Eastern Pennsylvania/New Jersey, Tennessee).

    3. Add 2 maybe 3 teams that could legitimately compete for a “Big 12 East” Championship.

    Big 12 East

    Central Florida
    Iowa St.
    Kansas St.
    West Virginia

    B12 West

    Oklahoma St.
    Texas Tech

    Is it perfect? No, there’s an obvious imbalance of power, the B12 East looks like it could be in C-USA, but like I said it grows the footprint, improves the recruiting base, helps with travel costs, etc.

  7. Florida Recruiting says:

    The Big 12 should add Central & South Florida, the markets are big and the Big 12 gets a foot-hold in the Florida recruiting grounds. UCF & USF would also get more money and exposure to make their program that much better. At that point they could go to 14 if they want, but I doubt the Big 12 goes past 12. Also, programs would be guaranteed 2 trips to Texas or 1 trip to Texas & 1 trip to Florida each season which is good for the conference as a whole. Cincinnati & Memphis would be good adds, but they are basketball schools first. The Big 12 is a Football first conference.


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