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Memphis To Join Big East. What's Next?
Posted Feb 7, 2012

The latest update and look at conference realignment and expansion.

Memphis To Join Big East

Now what does this mean?

By Pete Fiutak
Follow Us @ColFootballNews   

A conference call is being set up for Wednesday, at which time the Big East is expected to bring in Memphis from Conference USA.

The Big East made some noise a few weeks ago months ago when it announced it was bringing aboard Boise State and San Diego State for football only, and then it took on Houston, SMU, UCF, and later Navy to add more bulk. And now, in a move that'll mostly affect the basketball side of things with Pitt and Syracuse leaving for the ACC in 2014, Memphis will join the conference in all sports starting in 2013.

The conference is reloading with a hoops heavyweight, but it won't move the needle much for football. Memphis is the 48th biggest media market, ranking slightly behind New Orleans and Indianapolis, and should end up helping boost the television package. 

The conference almost reaches the four corners of the country going down to San Diego, over to Orlando and Tampa, up to Connecticut and New Jersey, and over to Idaho. It'll be a bear for air travel, and forget about any opposing fan bases showing up to games, but the league keeps working at staying alive after so many big defections gutted the core.

So now what do the conferences look like, and what's next in the constantly changing world of realignment?

What We Know: Pitt and Syracuse will join in 2014. Already in are Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest.

What’s Probably Going To Happen Next: The ACC will likely stick with 14 teams for the next year while keeping its options open to react to what the SEC does. If the SEC goes after Florida State, Virginia Tech, and/or Clemson, the ACC will quickly poach from the Big East or Conference USA. The Big East might have gotten bigger and better, but even with the larger exit fee and the stronger team base, schools like Connecticut and Louisville are still in play. East Carolina is always on the table - at least geographically - and now it could be more attractive with Memphis going to the Big East.

Big 12
What We Know: Texas A&M and Missouri are off to the SEC, TCU is n, and West Virginia will come aboard - eventually. The Mountaineers are in a legal battle with the Big East to get out now, but there's a chance they won't join the Big 12 until 2013. For 2012, the league still has Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech to go along with TCU and possibly West Virginia

What’s Probably Going To Happen Next: By letting Boise State, Houston, and SMU go to the Big East, the Big 12 - who wants to get back to being a 12-team league - is almost certainly going to go after BYU as the 11th team. And the 12th? Nevada might be in the equation and UNLV could be in the hunt, just because of the city. Tulsa is too small and UTEP isn't really needed unless Texas Tech wants a playmate. Southern Miss might be intriguing, but the Big 12 wants bigger brand name programs. Even with all the moves, Big East teams will still be in play making Louisville and Cincinnati possible targets to go along with West Virginia. Louisville has openly lobbied to move to the Big 12, and it could eventually happen if the dollars work out.

Big East
What We Know: Pitt and Syracuse are gone to the ACC in 2014 and West Virginia is taking off for the Big 12 once all the legal problems are hammered out. The conference will add Boise State and San Diego State for football only starting in 2013, and Houston, UCF, SMU now Memphis will join for all sports starting in 2013, and Navy will join in 2015.  For 2013, the conference will be Boise State, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Rutgers, San Diego State, SMU, UCF and USF. Navy will make it 12.

What’s Probably Going To Happen Next: The Big East isn't done. Louisville has openly said it wants out and Rutgers is prime for the taking whenever the Big Ten decides to pull the trigger. BYU rejected the idea of joining the Big East, or vice versa depending on whose version you want to believe, but either way, that's not going to happen. Army is an easy get if and when there are any defections. Temple appeared to be returning to its old conference, but rumors about a move from the MAC have quieted down after this latest grab of programs.

Big Ten
What We Know: Commissioner Jim Delany, who got the ball rolling in the first place, has been dead-silent on any and all expansion talk. It was curious that the conference let Missouri go to the SEC after it had seemed destined to join the Big Ten, and early rumors about Rutgers, Connecticut, and Maryland are gone. The conference seems fine for now and it doesn't appear anxious to do too much more after a successful season in the new format.

For now, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin are in the Leaders, and Iowa Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Northwestern form the Legends. It appears that things are going to stay that way for a while.

What’s Probably Going To Happen Next: There are only so many big programs to possibly go after. Notre Dame is always in the speculation, but there's nothing going on right now between the two. Texas - the team the Big Ten gabbed about to fuel the realignment discussions - is always in the background of a mega-deal, but that's not going to happen now that the Big 12 gotten stronger.

A lot might depend on what happens with Penn State. If the NCAA blows the program out of the water, suddenly, the Leaders becomes squishy-soft and the conference will need a bigger East Coast presence. Rutgers could turn out to be the perfect fit. Kansas would seem like a natural because of the basketball program, but the Big Ten hasn't shown any interest whatsoever.

Conference USA
What We Know: The league is merging forces with the Mountain West for just football, but it's weakened after both leagues were gutted by the Big East. At the moment, East Carolina, Marshall, Rice, Southern Miss, UAB, UTEP, Tulane and Tulsa are members with Houston, SMU, UCF, and now Memphis taking off for the Big East.

What’s Probably Going To Happen Next: Conference USA hopes there's strength in numbers with the tie-ins to the Mountain West. With Houston, UCF, SMU and Memphis gone, the league's power players are moving leaving East Carolina, Southern Miss, and Tulsa as the only programs with any recent football success. Picking off some Sun Belt teams like Arkansas State, FIU, or Western Kentucky could bring more live bodies into the equation, and Louisiana Tech from the WAC makes too much sense not to have happened yesterday, but for now, the conference is weathering the storm and hoping ECU and Southern Miss aren't the next to bail.

What We Know: Army, BYU, Navy, and Notre Dame are the four independents - for now.

What’s Probably Going To Happen Next: Navy is gone to the Big East in 2015, and Army could end up following in the near future. BYU will likely end up in the Big 12, and Notre Dame will be on the radar of the Big East, Big Ten and Pac-12 as long as it remains an independent.

What We Know: At the moment, it’s Akron, Buffalo, Kent State, Miami, Ohio, Temple, and newcomer Massachusetts in the East and Ball State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois, Toledo, and Western Michigan in the West along with Bowling Green, who's moving from the East to the West.

What’s Probably Going To Happen Next: Temple is being talked about as a possible Big East team, but that's it for now. Conference USA could come calling soon for Northern Illinois, Toledo, or Western Michigan, but that's pure speculation.

Mountain West
What We Know: Just when it seemed like the conference was building to be something great, all the stars took off. The dream was a league with Boise State, BYU, TCU, and Utah forming a solid nucleus, but they're all off to bigger and better things, while San Diego State is joining Boise State in a move to the Big East for football in 2013.

The league is still looking to merge forces with Conference USA in a strength-in-numbers situation, and it'll hope that a raid on the WAC will help the cause with Fresno State, Hawaii, and Nevada joining in 2012 to go along with, for this year, Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV and Wyoming. 

What’s Probably Going To Happen Next: It's going to be tough to get up in the morning considering the league was this close to being special. Now it's the land of misfit teams that are too small or too mediocre to get calls from bigger conferences. Nevada might not be around for long, and Colorado State could be Big 12-bound if the football program could show any sign of life whatsoever. Getting Idaho and Utah State from the WAC would make sense, but for now, hooking up with Conference USA might be enough to get by.

What We Know: It’s Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington, and Washington State in the North, and Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, UCLA, USC, and Utah in the South.

What’s Probably Going To Happen Next: Nothing. The league is suddenly looking like a killer with USC getting through the NCAA sanctions and with several new coaches bringing the league some more attention.

All the talk of going after Oklahoma, Texas, or anyone else from the Big 12 is gone. The Pac-12 doesn't want BYU, and Big East-bound Boise State and San Diego State weren't on the table. Kansas would make sense for basketball, but the league appears to be happy as is.

What We Know: Texas A&M will join West in 2012 to be in the same division as Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Missouri will join the East to go along with Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

What’s Probably Going To Happen Next: The SEC is going to let the 14-team league breathe for a while. The $3 billion TV package will be upgraded with the addition of two new teams, and adding two more - like Virginia Tech, Florida State, or Clemson - doesn't appear likely for now. Everything is going too well for the conference at the moment to expand further, and while the rumors and speculation won't slow down, the league will almost certainly stick with the 14-team format for at least the next two seasons. Any new members wouldn't be able to join until at least 2014.

Sun Belt
What We Know: It’s Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic, FIU, Louisiana-Lafayette, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Troy, ULM and Western Kentucky with South Alabama joining in 2012.

What’s Probably Going To Happen Next: Conference USA could soon come calling for Florida International and Western Kentucky, while North Texas and Arkansas State are attractive options that could make a jump soon. 

What We Know: The WAC is trying to rebuild with Texas State and UT San Antonio joining in 2012, but that won't do much to cushion the blow of losing Fresno State, Hawaii, and Nevada to the Mountain West. To go along with the two new members, the league will have Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State and Utah State for the 2012 season.

What’s Probably Going To Happen Next: There's not a whole bunch the conference can do if it doesn't keep plucking programs from the lower level. Louisiana Tech is destined to move to Conference USA at some point, and Idaho and Utah State are primed to get plucked by the Mountain West. Outside of trying to join forces with the Sun Belt, the WAC will be hanging on for dear life if it can't make some sort of a deal to join the new Conference USA-Mountain West alliance.