Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
Memphis' hiring of former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese opens up all kinds of speculation about the conference.
It's no secret that the Tigers have been trying their best to work their way into a BCS conference. They've felt left behind ever since the Big East took Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida for football and DePaul and Marquette for basketball out of Conference USA in 2005. Memphis was left to wonder, what about us?
Hiring Tranghese, who retired in July, is a stroke of genius, Geoff Calkins writes in the Memphis Commercial Appeal. And he's right. If your goal is entry to the Big East, what better person to have on your payroll than the guy who oversaw the founding of the Big East, who was the league's first paid employee and who is best friends with current commissioner John Marinatto?
Before we connect those dots, however, we must remember a few things.
First, the Big East isn't currently looking to expand, especially not if it adds to the basketball membership. Secondly, Memphis has a ways to go before its facilities and its competitiveness match the rest of the Big East. Right now, adding Memphis for football doesn't really help the Big East in terms of prestige.
You could make a strong case that the league ought to boot out DePaul and add Memphis to keep the basketball format at 16 and make the football alignment nine deep. But there may be resistance on the basketball side to adding yet another top program to what is already the toughest and deepest league in the country.
Tranghese had said he wanted to do some consulting work when he retired, so this makes sense for him. No other BCS league except the Big East really makes sense for Memphis. The SEC is a better geographic fit, but it's not going to go past 12 teams anytime soon. Nor would Memphis have any chance of competing in that league in football.
What Memphis has done is grab a connection to the power brokers in the Big East. It will be up to the school to sell itself, and it will be up to the league to figure out whether the Tigers bring enough to the table to warrant inclusion in the future.