Well, I've got to hand it to the University of Memphis for one thing. They're not sitting on their thumbs in regards to their years-long campaign to join the Big East conference, hiring former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese as a consultant; a move with fairly unambiguous overtones. It's quite the gambit for an athletic department that hasn't seen much success on the gridiron since DeAngelo Williams left for the NFL.
Their lackluster appeal as a potential conference member is obvious. Not only is geography working against them (no Fred Smith, being in the Central Time Zone is not a plus, nor is being the #41 metropolitan area by population), but it doesn't make all that much sense to add a Conference USA also-ran when Big East football doesn't have the best image on the national level to begin with.
On the other hand, working in their favor is the presence of the afore-mentioned booster Smith, and his vague hints of FedEx sponsorship (and possibly a Liberty Bowl tie-in). Bringing on Tranghese is curious, if only because he was a strong proponent of preserving the present 16-team, monster conference setup as opposed to a split along football and basketball lines. I can't see the Big East expanding to 17. Something would have to give.
I don't know whether the Big East would either want to add a strong Memphis program or not for basketball. Who knows how they'll do without Calipari, and the BE is tough enough as it is. The ideal candidate would be a Penn State - historically good at football, and weak on the court.
I am very much in favor of a split, and eventually adding a ninth member. There are no realistic candidates who make sense at this time. Hopefully, Tranghese is as successful in getting Memphis into the Big East as he was in staying on the ball with Big East football. With the way the BE's inner workings are set up however, I have a bad feeling that the fix is in, and some sort of sweetheart deal is already in the cards. All the more reason to cut ties with the central office in Providence at the first opportunity.
Update: this was a banked post from yesterday. Per ZAGSBLOG, the Memphis A.D. has a nasty habit of starting rumors.
"I’ve heard all sorts of rumblings," Johnson said. "Their first choice would certainly be Notre Dame. But I keep hearing that Notre Dame may not be interested. I hear that they might try to get somebody from the East Coast."
Almost certainly nonsense.