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Tigers or Pirates, Pirates or Tigers?

Looks like that message board chatter from a few days ago was more than just idle chit-chat. According to Matt Stark over at WHBQ in Memphis, the Tigers are "in serious talks with the Big East about joining the conference." What that means beyond that is still up in the air.

It presents an interesting dilemma for the conference. The last thing we need is more basketball teams, yet you're talking about last season's national title participant and a team that has been ranked in the top ten the last three seasons. It renews a natural rivalry with Louisville and brings John Calipari into the conference (until he jumps somewhere else in 2 years). But if we added them, we'd definitely have to consider splitting the conference into divisions again, wouldn't we? Yech.

On the football side, Memphis is traditionally a mediocre program. They've gone bowling four of the last five seasons but to nothing greater than the Motor City Bowl (unless you really want to argue with me that the New Orleans Bowl has more cache). They'd be a middle of the road program for the Big East, at least in the foreseeable future. But perhaps a BCS alignment would be what the programs needs to take the next step (ala Louisville or South Florida).

Of course, it's interesting that this seems to be happening the same time it's "leaked" that East Carolina is willing to fellate every current member of the conference for
a chance to be a part of the action. In a strange way, ECU might have an advantage in that they would likely join the conference as a football-only member, which may or may not be more attractive to the Big East.

Tim Stephens of the Orlando Sentinel point out, the timing of all this begs the question... Are these teams are chasing the Big East or if the Big East is quietly putting the word out about conference expansion 2.0?

More to come on this (including official denials) soon I'm sure.

Oh...Conference USA...we forgot you were there. Sorry bout all this...