MSL’s Playing Hurt Podcast: Memphis to the Big 12 Edition

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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.

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

What’s in a Name?: New name ideas for old Big East

With the seven Catholic schools leaving and taking the name “Big East” with them, the no name conference, that will add Houston, Tulane, East Carolina, SMU, Memphis, and UCF for the 2013 season, is in desperate need of a new name.

Perhaps the most confusing thing about all of this conference realignment is what to name these new conferences.  The Big 12 has 10 teams, the Big 10 has 12 teams, and the SEC has teams outside of the Southeastern region of the United States.  It can be confusing, but if you change the Big 12 to the Big 10 and the Big 10 to the Big 12 life will make sense.

Luckily for the remaining teams in the old Big East, there are some solid options for the new name of the Big East.  Here are a few conference name suggestions for the remaining non-Catholic schools in the old Big East:

Conference Formerly Known as the Big East
Think of that picture like the symbol that the artist formerly known as “Prince” uses.  Any symbol will work, a dollar sign with a huge slash to symbolize the lack of money the teams formerly in the Big East will make compared to the BCS conference schools, or a frowny face which will show how sad the schools are for not being invited to the Catholic 7’s new “Big East”.  Think about it, how many conferences are recognized by just a symbol?  None, so being able to add a unique twist to the conference name might actually help make up for some of the revenue that is going to be lost.  Just pick a symbol, throw in “the conference formerly known as the Big East”, and let the merchandising of the conference begin.

Conference USA 2.0
Makes sense to me.  After all, the Big East certainly likes snatching teams from C-USA.  When they first expanded in 2005, the Big East took C-USA football members Louisville, Cincinnati, and South Florida.  This time they take Houston, SMU, Tulane, Memphis, Central Florida, and East Carolina of C-USA.  With the departure of Louisville to the ACC, this makes eight of the 12 schools (Navy is not scheduled to join until 2015) former members of C-USA.

Please Take Me Next Atlantic Coast Conference Conference
The PTMNACCC is a mouthful, but when you take into account that the ACC pillages the Big East much like the Big East pillages C-USA you can understand the name.  With Pitt, Louisville, Notre Dame, and Syracuse leaving to go along with Virginia Tech, Miami, and Boston College from 2005, the Big East is looking like a minor league farm system for the ACC.

Metro Conference
This was the conference Memphis, Cincy, and Tulane belonged to before it folded resulting in the formation of  C-USA.  Since C-USA and Big East are now taken, and nobody has the name Metro Conference, it also makes sense.  Most of the universities in the old Big East are in major metropolitan areas so the name works from that angle as well.

Catholic 7
Since  St. John’s, Seton Hall, Marquette, Providence, DePaul, Villanova and Georgetown are taking the Big East name with them, why can’t the old Big East teams take the name those schools have been known by the past few months. Stealing the name of the seven schools that crippled an already struggling conference, seems like the right thing to do to spite them.

CJ Hurt covers college football for MemphiSport.  If you think you have a better name for the new look Big East tweet him @churtj09 #newBigEast for his and your amusement.  He also live tweets from different college football games throughout the Mid-South.

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Why the Big 12 should add the University of Memphis

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.