One of the biggest gripes amongst those dissatisfied with the shifting landscape in college football conferences is that it’s nothing but a cash grab. While these conferences are looking to add teams to boost their overall revenue, I believe the money made from TV deals will be put to good use by the schools. For instance, the extra revenue could help balance the budgets of the various athletic departments by paying the bills of the other athletic teams. Additionally, the money could go to the university’s general fund to support institutional research and help keep tuition fees down. In stark contrast is what’s going on with Memphis. According to Gary Parrish at CBS Sports, the CEO at FedEX, Fred Smith, is willing to offer a BCS conference $10 million per year to let Memphis in as a member. If any of the six eligible conferences comply, it would be a signal of the ultimate cash grab.
The shift we’re seeing across the conferences centers around one issue: football. The football programs are the ones bringing in the money and funding the rest of the athletic teams at most schools. The football programs are generating the big bucks for the conferences. The football programs are the reason Texas A&M is negotiating with two major conferences while Kansas and its historic basketball program has become a neglected child. Great, now that we’ve established that the changes are all about football, we have the answer to why Memphis has no place in a BCS conference.
Although Memphis had good seasons in 2003 and 2004 under Tommy West and they’ve had two fine players in DeAngelo Williams and Isaac Bruce, they have no history as a program. What notable accomplishment has Memphis’ football program ever achieved? What fan base do they have? What, besides $10 million a year, could Memphis’ football team possibly offer a BCS conference? Absolutely nothing, and that’s why it would be nothing other than a straight up money grab for a conference to accept them.
FedEx CEO could provide millions if BCS-affiliated league takes Memphis [Gary Parrish/CBS Sports]