(10-10-2010 03:51 PM)Dan Wolken Wrote: They were terrific rivals once, with a contempt born from their similarities as cities, fan bases and universities.
(10-10-2010 03:51 PM)Dan Wolken Wrote: But Louisville and Memphis operate in different NCAA galaxies these days, one graced by the money and prestige of the Bowl Championship Series and the other on a frustrating quest to get to the opposite side of that line.
(10-10-2010 03:51 PM)Dan Wolken Wrote: It's been seven years since Louisville left Memphis behind, accepting an invitation to the Big East but more importantly throwing its support and influence behind South Florida instead of Memphis as the final team to be included in the 2003 realignment.
The fact that Louisville supported the addition of USF, a school that was brand new to D-1 and with whom the Cardinals had essentially no history, over Memphis is very telling to me. It does not appear that Louisville placed much emphasis on or valued all the similarities/ties it had to Memphis (history, proximity, university profile, rivalry, etc) when it came down to it. Rather, they seemed to value the qualities USF had - a better recruiting location, a bigger TV market (more TV dollars), etc. That, to me at least, suggests Louisville is more concerned about maximizing revenues, opening fertile recruiting areas, etc than restoring historic rivalries or promoting universities that have similar focuses.
I thought it was interesting that Wolken mentioned this but then de-emphasized it through most of his article. If anything, this point seems to counter the narrative he presents.
(10-10-2010 03:51 PM)Dan Wolken Wrote: Given that history, it would be no surprise if Memphis fans, and maybe even administrators, harbored some bitterness as the Tigers return to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium this afternoon for the first time since Louisville left Conference USA.
No clue how Memphis fans feel about our respective situations. From their board (and I realize that message board posters are only a small sliver of a fanbase), it seems that opinions range from unbridled jealousy to simple acceptance/understanding.
(10-10-2010 03:51 PM)Dan Wolken Wrote: Just because the Cardinals shunned Memphis once, however, doesn't mean it has to happen again. Though it may not show in today's result, the Tigers have done a lot of work the past few years to lay the foundation for advancement to the Big East. But without the support of Louisville the next time around -- and particularly its power-broker athletic director, Tom Jurich -- it will probably be a wasted pursuit.
1) Football will be an important component of any Big East expansion. Unfortunately, Tiger football has not shown much improvement in terms of on the field performance, facilities, or fan/university support
2) The Tigers aren't the only program working to grab the Big East's attention. Look at ECU's expansion, UCF's facility building crazy, etc.
3) Tom Jurich may have input, but he doesn't get to vote on expansion and he isn't some all-powerful conference dictator. I know Wolken didn't take it that far, I just get tired of seeing other fanbases acting as if Jurich is some mastermind working directly on behalf of their school and whatever he says goes.
(10-10-2010 03:51 PM)Dan Wolken Wrote: "If I'm in the Big East and I'm looking at Memphis, I'd probably talk to the guys at Louisville first, no question about it," Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson said. "The fact that we have good relationships certainly is a plus."
The Big East might consult Louisville at some point, but I'm sure others (like TV execs, Big East officials studying expansion) will have the more meaningful input when it comes to expansion. Also, the only C-USA team I've heard UofL possibly
supporting is UCF.
(10-10-2010 03:51 PM)Dan Wolken Wrote: Despite recent reports that the Big East invited Villanova to move its football program up from the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) and that the league has talked with TCU about membership, Johnson said he does not sense any major moves are imminent.
Johnson also thought brochures and talking up an airport were good ideas. Just sayin'.
(10-10-2010 03:51 PM)Dan Wolken Wrote: In a phone interview this week, Jurich echoed the league's long-standing, vague position that it will only pursue expansion that "makes sense."
Generic statement #1
(10-10-2010 03:51 PM)Dan Wolken Wrote: "There's been a lot of strategy put in place that people don't have a chance to see behind the scenes," Jurich said. "But you have some great minds in that league to make sure we put together the best (alignment of teams) we can."
Generic statement #2
(10-10-2010 03:51 PM)Dan Wolken Wrote: That's certainly not much of a hint about the Big East's direction, but with the constant chatter about its current football struggles, the threat of the Big Ten expanding again and the inconvenient arrangement of having eight football programs and 16 for basketball, Memphis' campaign is ongoing.
If football struggles are a problem, how does adding a horrible Memphis team help? If anything, that weakens the conference even more and would only serve to increase complaints about the conference.
The Big Ten possibly expanding is a non-point. If they do, there is nothing that the Big East can do to stop them. If they don't, then there isn't a reason for the Big East to expand unless the move makes the conference more money. In either case, expansion can wait until it either a) makes financial sense or b) is absolutely necessary..
(10-10-2010 03:51 PM)Dan Wolken Wrote: Obviously, the Tigers have never been closer than they were in June, when it appeared a significant conference shuffle was about to take place. Though those leading Memphis' push (including FedEx founder Fred Smith) closed ranks at that time, some on the periphery believed that Memphis was working closely with Jurich to land in the Big East or perhaps a new conference had the former been pillaged beyond repair.
Some believe the queen is an alien, that the center of the Earth is inhabited by mole people, that fossils are tools of the devil, and that the universe sits on the back of a giant celestial tortoise. Just because some one believes something (e.g. Cult of 32 claiming that "Memphis to the Big East is a done deal") does not mean it is even close to being reality.
(10-10-2010 03:51 PM)Dan Wolken Wrote: Jurich wasn't forthcoming about the nature of his dialogue with Memphis officials, but he didn't exactly deny it, either.
Jurich has never denied being a murderous alien from the planet Xeron. Nor has he denied freezing millions of aliens, flying a 747 shaped spacecraft to Earth, throwing the aliens in volcanoes to kill them, and then laughing as the souls of the dead aliens invaded primitive humans to cause all the negative emotions in life.
No offense to Wolken, but speculating based off what people don't say is at best a stretch and at worst poor journalism.
(10-10-2010 03:51 PM)Dan Wolken Wrote: "Those would be conversations I'd keep in private," he said. "They've got a great administration down there, they know what they're doing, and I know they're talking with all the right people. If it's meant to be, it will happen."
Jurich is for the most part an apt politician. He isn't going to burn bridges or insult people/programs in a public forum, regardless of whether they are immediately valuable to him or not. Louisville may want to schedule Memphis or need them to fill a last minute opening and insulting them on the BE issues would probably nix that possibility.
Bu aside from that, the quote really doesn't saying anything. As Jurich says "if it's meant to be, it will happen."
(10-10-2010 03:51 PM)Dan Wolken Wrote: If the Big East expands, Jurich's endorsement of Memphis may not be enough to get the Tigers in ahead of Central Florida, East Carolina or any of the other usual suspects. But they surely won't be able to do it without his help.
Sure they can. If they garner the support of the Big East presidents, it really doesn't matter what Jurich thinks.
(10-10-2010 03:51 PM)Dan Wolken Wrote: It was Jurich's vision to invest in facilities and coaches that helped lift Louisville football in the late 1990s and put the school in position to be first on the Big East's list in 2003. Since joining the league, Louisville has been one of its most successful programs, winning championships in football, men's basketball and baseball. Jurich is widely considered one of the country's best athletic directors, and his viewpoint is important in all matters regarding the Big East.
Tom Jurich may have input, but he doesn't get to vote on expansion and he isn't some all-powerful conference dictator. I'm sure the other big East presidents will listen to their own ADs before bowing to Jurich.
(10-10-2010 03:51 PM)Dan Wolken Wrote: It will be especially crucial if the conversation shifts to Memphis. Though Jurich said it would be "unfair" to characterize any programs as potential candidates, it's important to remember how much these two institutions have in common. If Louisville can't support the inclusion of another urban university in the South with a similar academic mission, student body size and an athletic history going back decades, then Syracuse and Connecticut certainly won't.
It really doesn't matter if Louisville supports Memphis if the other universities don't support them. Plus, as I pointed out above, it does not appear that Louisville placed much emphasis on or valued all the similarities/ties it had to Memphis (history, proximity, university profile, rivalry, etc). Why would they now?
(10-10-2010 03:51 PM)Dan Wolken Wrote: "I think that would be accurate," Johnson said. "They've done such a good job in the time they've been in there, and I think they'd have some say in it. It's always better to have them supporting you."
Louisville's road to success in the Big East started long before BE membership. It start with facility upgrades, coaching hires, and the university making the commitment to field a competitive athletic department (not just basketball). All of those things paid off in a BE invite and are now paying off in terms of conference success. .
(10-10-2010 03:51 PM)Dan Wolken Wrote: The last time Memphis played in Louisville was 2003, shortly after it learned it would remain in C-USA while many of its traditional rivals would be moving on. The Tigers won 37-7, and on that day, nobody would have blamed them for feeling like the Big East took the wrong team.
(10-10-2010 03:51 PM)Dan Wolken Wrote: For rebuilding Memphis, things probably won't go quite as well this afternoon. But this is one game where the handshakes will be more important than the final score.
Again, how does adding a horrendous Memphis team help Big East football.