What I would love is that it comes out that the reason the ESPN reporter could not find evidence of Memphis being involved in the upcoming presentations is because the Big 12 Presidents had already decided that the Tigers were going to be one of the Universities invited to join. Everyone else is fighting for the remaining spot(s).
This is something I have considered but dare not hope for. For those who want to believe, there are tiny glimmers of hope, but it's hard not to think that Caulkins has enough inside dope and goodwill that he was told the straight story, albeit off the record. And he seemed pretty definitive in his column that we were indeed done.
But, again, there is an argument for what you are saying.
- First, Memphis and Temple have been linked as being "out", yet both schools will not say anything about the process. Other schools, once eliminated, have said so publicly.
- Second, there have been "leaks" here and there that seem to have pegged Memphis as an "in" early on. Statements never really meant to be public but got out there anyway.
- Third, ESPN is the only news source willing to state Memphis is out. Fox (who also has skin in this game) has not. And reports from other reputable agencies only cite the ESPN report, not providing independent corroboration.
It's on this 3rd point that I say the most "hope" is available, because if you read the ESPN report, they state that Memphis being willing to take a reduced share is something that may have ultimately hurt Memphis more than it has helped. Now, think about this. from ESPN's standpoint, this would be true. But not from the conference's. In fact, much of the reporting this entire year regarding expansion has focused on the idea that any new member would HAVE to take reduced money for several years, based on the precedent set by TCU and WVU. But now, acknowledging this supposedly sunk Memphis' bid?
Here's the reality. If all teams willingly take reduced portions, you are actually incentivizing (not a word, I know) the current Big 12 members into taking 4 teams, because it just makes them that much richer. Which is the last thing ESPN wants. Yet, Memphis has been the most "pegged" for being willing to pony up monies to get us in. So by dropping Memphis from the conversation, are they sending a message to the remaining candidates?
Of course, at the same time, you also HAVE to think that somebody at ESPN is privy to the proceedings, and knows something the rest of us don't. So for them to stop mentioning Memphis has to mean something.
The one real hope I have is Fred Smith. Because once again, I HAVE to think that he knows how crucial this is, to be willing to commit $1B total to the effort to get this university in the Big 12, between financing their league and propping up the school. If he's willing to do that, I'm thinking he will not stop pressing and lobbying for this until the press conference announcing the teams.