Memphis — a school that drawn no interest from the wounded Big 12 or collapsing Big East — certainly has big dreams. The school’s athletic director, RC Johnson, had this to say to WMC-TV in the Bluff City today:
“We want to get ourselves in the best possible place. Ultimately we would like to be in the SEC. That’s where we think we belong geographically. We think we deserve to be. But we’re talking to commissioners, we’re talking to chancellors, presidents. We’re turning over every stone possible ’cause we want to make this a bright future for Tiger athletics.”
In this day and age, all it takes is a soundbite or a web video to convince people that a seriously long shot deserves serious consideration. So no doubt, some will now follow up Johnson’s comments by talking about the Memphis television market, Tiger basketball, the geographic fit, etc, etc.
But the fact of the matter is, the SEC can already claim the Memphis television market thanks to Tennessee. And Arkansas. And Ole Miss.
SEC schools already recruit the area as well. There’s no new ground — or viewers — added with Memphis.
From a football standpoint, the Tigers are abysmal. In basketball they’re highly competitive, but they also have a couple of high-profile NCAA beatdowns on the ol’ resume (hey, maybe they are a fit for the SEC).
The school also fails to meet the SEC’s “profile.” Counting Texas A&M, 12 of the SEC’s 13 schools are large, public universities located in towns of less than 300,000 residents with no major professional teams.
Memphis is a city of 600,000+ with an NBA franchise. It’s viewed as a commuter school and the SEC hasn’t done commuter schools in the past.
In terms of academic reputation — something that chancellors and presidents take very seriously into consideration — Memphis is not numerically ranked by US News and World Report as it is graded instead as a Tier 2 school.
No offense to the Tigers or their fans, but this one’s a non-starter. If the SEC were looking for this type of school, Cincinnati, Louisville and Houston would all be higher up the list.