Paul Finebaum sends strong message on the ACC and Big 12 adding Memphis

Navy v Memphis
Navy v Memphis / Benjamin Solomon/GettyImages

Paul Finebaum believes the ACC and Big 12 missed the boat by not adding Memphis during the latest round of conference realignment -- chastising the conferences for not adding a school that signed a historic NIL deal with the Tigers on April 19.

"I think (Memphis's NIL deal) may be one of the most critical pieces ever," Finebaum said to the Memphis Touchdown Club (h/t The Commercial Appeal). "The concept, from a distance, if you're another league and you see one of the most important companies in not only the country, but in the world, enter into this space, it has to energize you. And I thought the ACC, quite frankly, a year ago made a mistake not picking Memphis over SMU.

"I think the Big 12 made a bigger mistake when they took in Houston and UCF and didn't come Memphis's way."

Finebaum denied that because his home state of Tennessee, he is acting as a homer towards the Tigers. He'd go on to say that the program has already built itself up considerably over the past two years.

But is he right about his assessments?

ACC and Big 12 saw more potential in Dallas, Houston, and Orlando markets than Memphis

It all comes down to dollars and sense for these conferences. When the ACC added SMU, its goal was to branch into the Texas market; doing so with the largest media market in the Lone Star State and grabbing a former national champion in the process. For the Big 12, adding Houston and UCF meant breaking into the Space City and Orlando, Florida.

Comparing those three cities to Memphis, it's pretty clear that those conferences knew what they were doing. All four cities have NBA franchises, but it's the Memphis Grizzlies that are the least valuable of any. Sure, the Tigers have a chance to take over the city because of the lack of a pro football team, but with a larger stadium than Houston and UCF, they had similar attendance numbers to the former and much worse attendance numbers than the latter in 2022 when they all shared a conference.

There's definitely more of a case for the ACC taking SMU over Memphis, but again, there's more of a history of winning and fan support for the Mustangs than the Tigers. Plus, that DFW market dwarfs the city of Memphis's.

Finebaum may have been giving the Memphis Touchdown Club lip service here, though the Tigers' NIL deal with FedEx definitely makes them a can't-miss program during the next round of conference realignment.