Joining The Big East: The View From Memphis

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Good for basketball not so sure about football.

What’s goin on?

Here’s the take from the Memphis Commercial Appeal on the Tigers joining the Big East which will be announced later today.

What do you think? Thumbs up, thumbs down? Curious to hear your thoughts on this one. Is it going to matter in a couple years anyway for football with the potential demise of the automatic bid?

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23 thoughts on “Joining The Big East: The View From Memphis

  1. CeeBee

    Frankly, I think that the University of Memphis will be very competitive in every sport that it participates in as a Big East member. Sure, our football program has not faired so well lately, but we are in a period of rebuilding and our problems will be resolved. But let me clarity, the Tiger football program is no stranger to winning. Through years of competition with two of the most competitive teams in the Big East (Cincinnati and Louisville, research the records yourself at, the University of Memphis football team has represented itself well. Sure we have been beaten, but conversely, we’ve enjoyed a good share of victories. In the past we’ve fielded football teams that defeated Auburn, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Alabama, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Florida State, Florida, and Miami (FL). And as a newly minted member of a Power 6 conference, who just some happens to be in the heart of SEC country, our ability to recruit top-notch athletes in all sports is greatly enhanced.

    The smug attitude that some of the UConn fans have displayed here would be annoying if it were not so farcical. Considering that in 47 football games, Yale prevailed over UConn (a former NCAA Div II and Div 1-AA member) 37 times – does not say much for the UConn football prowess or legacy. Sure, since UConn started competing in Big East football in 2004, the UConn football program has fared well. And it is clear that UConn football success is a direct result of its’ alliance with the Big East. But unlike your basketball program, your football program has not won a NCAA championship, and your few years of success don’t give you the right to claim that you are a football power because you not. You don’t play an SEC, Big-10, or PAC-10 type schedule. In essence, you are still a football “wannabe” and jumping to the ACC won’t change that. So instead of maligning the affiliates of C-USA, consider this, Louisville and Cincinnati hold their own in the Big East, Houston, SMU, UCF, and Memphis will do the same.

    As far facilities, improvements are ongoing. The football team plays in the 61,000 seat Liberty Bowl Stadium. And the basketball team plays at the $250 million Fed-Ex Forum, which has a seating capacity of 18,119.

    Finally, as a University of Memphis fan, I am excited about the opportunity to compete in the Big East. It is undoubtedly the BEST basketball conference in the land and with the nationwide marketing, football won’t be to far behind. If anyone of you decides to come to Memphis to support UConn in some future athletic contest, I assure you that you will be overwhelmed by our southern hospitality.

  2. vidtp

    uconn football had made a living playing teams like memphis–with atleast 25 wins against teams ranked over 100 in the last 10 years–PLEASE dont start crying about such a team joining the big east–if not for such teams uconn would have zero bowl apperances under their belt

  3. John

    If you make comments before you know facts you look silly. Despite the last few seasons being down the Memphis football program is quite viable. We averaged 20K last season. That was on the heels of 3 wins in the 2 previous years. 20K for a team that won 5 games in 3 seasons is saying something.
    Getting into the BE will bolster Memphis recruiting big time. We have lost countless recruits who cited Memphis being in C-USA as the primary reason as to why they chose Mississippi, Vandy, etc. Memphis will get those kids. For that matter, the new staff just snagged a kid from Florida who had committed to UConn.
    If you speak poorly of Memphis it just tells me you haven’t been here. Don’t believe everything you read. But if you do well I can’t help you there.
    We’re excited about being in the Big East. We’ve long held relationships with Louisville and Cincinnati. The Tigers have played other BE schools off and on through the years. Justin Fuente takes over as the head football coach after developing the TCU offense over the past few seasons. He was the primary play caller there. This recent recruiting class was ranked as our best in many, many years. Now imagine it with the BCS card. Josh Pastner has rebuilt the basketball program from the ground up. Whatshisface left the program with NO recruits (he gave them all outs of the LOIs) and just six scholarship players who logged no more than 5 mins per game. They’re not back to where we were but JP is making great strides in getting us there.
    We also have solid athletics across the board including a top 10 women’s soccer program. Out student-athletes finished last semester with a combined 3.1 GPA. I’d say that was pretty respectable.
    We have amazing corporate sponsorship that will back this. Our AD was a babbling idiot and will be leaving 6/1. Many of us think the fact that he’s departing was key factor in this invitation.
    All we ask is that you give us a shot. Don’t take biases and run with them. Watch our programs and come to our city then judge. I think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised.

  4. JoeP

    Not a good move.

    Someone please tell me how Villanova, with a good baskeball program and nothing else, can by itself block Temple from entering the Big East in all sports.

    The Big East will be a mess as long as baskeball rules.

  5. CReilly

    Sorry, I’m just not excited to be a fledging bcs program being in a league that just invited THE WORST college football team in America in Memphis. Only positive I can find is the BBQ, cause a terrible city and a horrible school in a tv market the size of Providence/New Bedford doesn’t do it for me.

  6. husky66

    not exactly making me jump in the air and pump my fists. CUSA 2.0 is exactly the correct description of where we are w/ the BE. the ACC makes me cringe but what choice do we have but to hope deflippo has a coronary and BC relents?

  7. Navin R. Johnson

    I can’t wait for Memphis to come to The Rent. Now if you believe that I’ll tell you I’m skinny too.

  8. CReilly

    this just opens up old wounds left from fall, reminding us that we’re now in a conference worse than the MAC. if the new AD doesn’t get us out of the BE, it’s over for the national brand of uconn athletics. greg schiano didn’t even have hope, that should tell us something.

    1. UCFBfan

      How is this going to be worse than the MAC? People are jumping way too quickly to conclusions. DO we have a lot of CUSA teams? Yes. What else would you like this conference to do? You’re not getting a team from current BCS conferences so you’re left with what’s left. Or this conference falls apart and UConn gets accepted into C-USA. Take your pick

  9. Andy

    This move is a no brainer, and from I gather, something that is not new for the Big East to be looking at. I believe Memphis was one of the targets for expansion back in 2003. They look better now. They have a brand new NBA facility to host those Big East b-ball games, and have a 60,000+ seat football stadium that hosts the Liberty Bowl every year. They’ve got Fed-Ex sitting in their front yard to tap for funding. Losing Syracuse and Pitt, lost the big east approx. the 80th and 25th size media markets in the country. Memphis is the 48th media market. Even trade, television market wise – 2 for 1. Nobody really gave South Florida a chance to be a relevant football program either, and they’ve been ranked higher and more often than we have.

    1. Navin R. Johnson

      Spot on about South Florida but have you seen Memphis play football? 2,000 people in the stadium and exactly 50 wins in the last 11 years in 1-A football. Connecticut has 75 wins in that time against better compitition.

  10. FrankyB

    I’m very pleased. This helps both from the standpoint of football and basketball. I don’t know how well the new Big East will work out financially, but I think the line-up of teams for football is both better and more interesting than the ACC’s.

  11. Chris

    Steve – bottom line we make the right hire we’ll be fine. We make the wrong hire we’ll have some down years (see Doherty, UNC).

    But it’s amazing to me that people can talk about the reigning national champions and describe the program as “unstable”. Getting off topic here though.

  12. mikeinmanila

    Agree with Mike. This officially ends the Big East as a viable major conference and once again highlights the incompetence/lack of vision of the conference leadership. Looks like BB still rules and justifies the rational of 3 schools leaving the BE. UConn needs to redouble its efforts to get out of this once proud conference.

  13. Chris

    Funny stuff Steve. At this time last year how many Chicken Littles were predicting the death spiral of the MBB program? Bandwagon fans.

    I’ll support my alma mater in whatever league we end up in. That said, I cannot give this move a bigger thumbs down. Memphis is a garbage school, a lousy town (other than Beale St.), and God awful football. The fact that a charlaton like Rick Pitino has lobbied for this only makes me worry more. Don’t understand this move at all. Almost gives validity to WVU’s ridiculous claims.

    1. Steve

      Chris, As long as you believe that JC can be replaced and the program maintained to the level he has brought it to. I am not saying the program will be terrible, but he is a legend.

      As for football, the current BE wasn’t highly regarded, it will only get worse.

      I see the WBB as the only stable situation.

  14. Steve

    The Golden Years of UConn sports are quickly coming to an end. CUSA 2.0 for footbal, JC soon to retire in MBB, all that will be left is UConn’s top Women’s program.

  15. Dave M.

    I think this was among the better all-sports adds of the relatively few remaining moves left – Nova is not letting Temple into the BE any time soon and the strenght of their hoops plus the size of their TV market is a plus. I think Air Force will eventually come over as a football only school and ECU is still waiting in the wings for when Louisville goes to the Big12.

    While I agree with CT Mike’s sentiments, the problem is that there is no home for UConn in another BCS conference for at least 2-3 years. The ACC is now the biggest conference so they’re not doing anything unless Notre Dame determines that it needs a conference home for football; the Big10 is the $ and most stable conference right now, and even if an invite came, I don’t know that the Big12 makes any sense for UConn.

    So, let’s make the best of it for now.

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