Haven't heard anyone mention the Memphis Tigers as a candidate for Big XII expansion. The metro area has a population of around 1.3 million, making it one of the largest cities in the Southeast. This would give the Big XII a somewhat sizable footprint in a new region, and it would satisfy the all-mighty TV market test. The school itself is a public research university with a student pop. of 23,000 (undergrad + grad).
Academically: Not a clue. Someone help me out here. However, keep this in mind: whether Memphis is good, just OK, or bad, the Big XII doesn't have a lot of options right now.*
Geographically: Good fit. UM isn't a stone's throw away from any of the Big XII schools, but neither is Ames to Austin. Memphis makes much more sense geographically than Pitt or even ND or BYU. It's about 4-8 hours away from Stillwater, Columbia, Lawrence, and Norman.
Regarding football, eh. Lack of history/tradition hurts their case, but the 2000s have been kind to the Tigers. They joined CUSA in 1996 after decades of independence and gridiron irrelevance, but since 2003 they've been to 5 bowls and won 2 of those (they've been to a bowl only 7 times in 91 years). Oh, during that time, they also produced a guy named DeAngelo Williams. Memphis plays their home games in the 61,000 capacity Liberty Bowl, which is as big or bigger than the Tech, ISU, Baylor, Ok State, and Kansas venues. Doubt they could fill it when KU or ISU come to town, but Memphis vs. Tx/ou might bring the fans out. They'd get pounded by the big boys but could probably compete with the ISU/Baylor/KUs of the conference. I think their football program would have the potential to get better as a member of an AQ conference; more money, more exposure, better recruits (access to the state of Texas), etc.
Regarding basketball: BOOM! Texas vs. KU vs. MEMPHIS vs. KSU vs. oklahoma vs. OSU vs. Mizzou. Enough said. This would be a big advantage to the conference. Granted basketball doesn't make money, but I think if we could add Memphis to the bball schedule, our northern basketball-obsessed conference members would be very happy. The basketball talent of the Big XII is above a lot of the other major conferences and would only be enhanced by UM. I would imagine the Memphis basketball program would like to make the jump to a big-time conference too, and if their football team has to go 2-10 every year, so be it.
Other advantages: Remember this story from last summer?
Humorous? Yes, but I think the dude is serious. If so, we make him UPS the yearly check to Belmont.
I've been somewhat surprised by the lack of realistic expansion (replacement?) schools mentioned by fans and the administrators. Would it be ideal for ND or Ark to join us? Of course, but c'mon. If ND didn't join the Big 10 last year, which was the perfect time to do so, they will NEVER join a conference. And trying to add TCU, SMU, UH, and/or Arkansas? We had that already in the SWC. It was nice but it's dead and gone. You can't save a dying conference by resurrecting one that already failed. I'll admit Memphis is not the ideal addition, but with the Big XII's options being rapidly depleted, I'm a little surprised they haven't been thrown into the conversation. In conclusion, BYU is the obvious pick, but adding only one school is not "extremely aggressive" or whatever Beebe said. We need 2-3 options, especially if BYU says no. Tell me where I'm wrong.
*Keep in mind, I've read recently that ND & Pitt are out. Swarbick has publicly said NO. Conventional wisdom says Pitt stays put as well (don't know why they were ever mentioned in the first place).