It's been five full years since Nebraska left the Big 12 for the Big Ten, to get the college football expansion train rolling. And since then, well, it's never really stopped. Since then, the Power Five conferences have all added teams, making other conferences like the Big East (at least in football) and Conference USA nearly obsolete.
Still for all the expansion that's gone on over the last half-decade, we've never seen a realignment scenario quite like the Big 12 is in the midst of right now. The conference has already said it is expanding -- quite possibly as early as the 2017 season -- and is basically taking open bids as we speak. It also means that schools are openly politicking to join the league, with everyone from Houston to Cincinnati making their case very publicly why they belong.
However, in the race to get into the Big 12, it was Memphis who may have pulled out the ultimate trump card Wednesday: Justin Timberlake.
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That's right, not only is JT bringing sexy back, he's also trying to get Memphis back into the thick of major college sports. He sent out the following tweet, which simply read the following:
Memphis to the @Big12Conference... let's make this happen!
That tweet was in response to a statement by Memphis AD Tom Bowen last week, which read:
"We work each day to build a championship-caliber athletic department where our student-athletes succeed in the classroom, on the field of play and in the community. The University is prepared to take action when opportunities to increase the level of positive attention and exposure for our city, campus and Athletic Department are presented. The University of Memphis continues to gain national recognition for its advancements in research, teaching and student accomplishments, and the Athletic Department is one part of that winning combination."
Statement from University of Memphis Athletic Director Tom Bowen: pic.twitter.com/IE1bidO393— Memphis Tigers (@TigersAthletics) July 20, 2016
In terms of JT's support of Memphis, this probably shouldn't be a surprise. Timberlake is a Memphis native with deep roots to the city that include minority ownership in the Grizzlies. He's also a noted basketball fan, who routinely pops up in celebrity games.
So again, this shouldn't be surprising, and it especially shouldn't be surprising when we consider that -- even in the larger context of the insane measures schools seem to be making to get into the Big 12 -- Memphis seems to be going above and beyond to get one of those coveted expansion bids. That includes reports that FedEx -- a Memphis owned company -- has even offered up money to sponsor the new, Big 12 title game.
I guess at this point, the only question is whether Memphis and Timberlake will eventually join forces to make the move to the Big 12 happen.
After all, forget sponsorship of the Big 12 title game, could you imagine if Memphis could guarantee that Timberlake would perform at halftime? Or maybe be part of a ceremonial coin toss?
Again, that's a trump card that no one else has to offer.
But it's my hunch that this isn't the last we'll hear of Timberlake, Memphis athletics and the Big 12.