Big Ten & Memphis Match Made in Heaven


By Peter Christian

About a week ago I had a revelation. A true vision that was so perfect it nearly made me cry in my car while driving into work. I have no idea why the thought penetrated the gray matter that is my brain, but the fact remains, it did.

For at least the last fifteen years there has been rumblings and whispers about the Big Ten athletic conference wanting to add a 12th team. The school that was always mentioned as a possibility was Notre Dame because of its natural and historic rivalries with Indiana, Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State, but financially it never made sense for the football program (they had their own TV contract, set their own schedule and had their own clause written into the Bowl Alliance and BCS agreements) and the basketball team was already a card carrying member of the Big East. Not to mention the fact that Notre Dame in the Big Ten would have just felt wrong. They are an elitist bunch of assholes that make the pretentious fans at Michigan and Ohio State look and sound ho-hum.

However, that still left the Big Ten a team short. Why does the conference need to add another team, you ask?

Twelve teams were needed for symmetry. Twelve teams were needed to divide the conference into divisions so that the conference could create a Big Ten Championship for football. Twelve teams would also help the conference in basketball to match up with the ACC during the conferences annual Big Ten/ACC challenge. It would be more fun to see the conference tournament feature a bracket that people can actually visualize without studying it for two and half hours.

Still answering the why left the who unanswered. There were possibilities of looking at some of the MAC schools, but they were far too small to make the step up. Which other non-BCS conference school could possibly step into the Big Ten and compete in both football and basketball immediately. Which school had the enrollment and the ability to recruit talent that could consistently match up?

There is only one possibility:

University of Memphis!!!

Memphis has a great basketball program which is not debatable, however the knock on them each year heading into the NCAA tournament is the fact that they play below average competition once the Conference USA season begins. A jump to the Big Ten would solve that quite easily. Plus it would definitely help the program’s already great recruiting reputation. A high school star that is on the fence to go to Memphis because of the lack of competition and subsequent lack of coverage would be swayed to be a Tiger if they were on national television every other week playing the likes of Michigan State, Illinois and Wisconsin.

The benefits would not be exclusive to only Memphis however. The Big Ten could finally align into two divisions (likely an East and West, with Memphis joining the West) and would also have another elite program to add to the top of their rankings. Gone would be the days of one elite program and four or five dark horses going to the NCAA tournament, the conference could confidently send two title contending teams while providing a handful of other competition tested teams.

On the football side of the equation, the Tigers would come in with a little less clout but would still boast the same number of bowl appearances as Indiana, Northwestern and Illinois combined. Plus it isn’t too far fetched to think that Memphis could corner the market on recruits from the South vs. the other Big Ten schools which could elevate the Tigers’ football program in a hurry. As for the conference (football-wise), this situation is a dream come true. Finally the Big Ten would be poised to set up their own Conference Championship (a proven cash cow for the SEC and Big 12). Think of how exciting an early December game to determine who goes to the Rose Bowl would be! Snow falling on Soldier Field with two sets of raucous fans on a chilly December night? Just the thought of it gives me goosebumps.

For now, this is simply a pipe dream. However, I’m hoping that with a little effort and a bit of momentum that I can lead the loyal readers of to the steps of the Big Ten Conference Commisioner James Delaney’s office to get this vision to be something more than just an amazing idea. Until then, start the whispers and we can build from there!

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  1. the Pyramid really is a hideous looking structure…

  2. It’s sad though how it’s going to become a bass pro shop or whatever..or just be abandoned. the place where Anfernee played his college ball..and yes it is an eyesore, and there is abso nothing to the north and east of it!

    And I want to thank Lisa for taking the picture of me with the “Grizz Girls” the Memphis Grizzlies dance team

  3. Just a weird coincidence! and perfect timing that Pete wrote this the same week I went there, crazy! Last wed he txted me asking “how far is Champaign from memphis?” i was like damn how did he know? i didnt tell him I was covering ILL-PSU that night in Champaign and leaving for Memphis the next night. It’s like a Lost subplot. when you drive down 57 all the signs tell you how far it is to champaign and then memphis, cuz those are the only two “cities” on that interstate

  4. Charley Davis says

    I’ve got a better idea. The Big Ten can poach Mizzou from the Big XII, who in turn will reunite Arkansas with their SWAC buddies from Texas and then Memphis can join the non-academic luminaries in the SEC. Everybody ends up happy except Kansas who loses their true rival.

  5. David Palmer says

    Something needs to happen to get Memphis out of C-USA, what a horrible conference. Well played Pete.

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