C-USA tourney waves farewell to Memphis

June, 12, 2012
6/12/12
11:15
AM ET
In the annals of conference realignment history, Conference USA's decision to move its 2013 end-of-season tournament to Tulsa will not rank with the most acrimonious post-partum decisions of all time.

The Horizon League's call to disqualify Butler from all postseason competition -- which prompted the Bulldogs' quick move to the Atlantic 10 in 2012-13 -- would get the nod there, as would the Big East's decision to sue Big 12-bound TCU, which never even competed as a member of the Big East, for a lofty $5 million sum.

[+] EnlargeJosh Pastner
AP Staff PhotoMemphis coach Josh Pastner won't have a home-court advantage for next season's Conference USA tourney.
But C-USA is moving its tournament from Memphis to Tulsa, the league's board of directors announced Monday, and the reasons are pretty clear: The 2012-13 season will be Memphis' last in the league before it makes its big move to the Big East, and it seems C-USA tournament organizers are understandably less than thrilled with the prospect of rewarding Memphis in its final season with what is essentially a home venue for its conference tournament run.

Which, you know, makes sense. As the great Wu-Tang Clan taught us, it is of utmost importance to protect one's neck, and C-USA -- like all conferences currently being raided by bigger, more monied rivals -- is very eager to prove that if a team wants out, there are at least symbolic bounties to be paid. I can dig it.

Even so, plugged-in Memphian Gary Parrish fears this move hurts the conference as much as it hurts the Tigers:
The Conference USA Board of Directors on Monday officially moved the 2013 C-USA basketball tournament from Memphis to Tulsa so that its championship game can be played live on CBS in front of 1,500 fans.

That's not exactly true, I guess.

But, just watch, that's exactly what's gonna happen. [...] On one hand, I get the league not wanting to help a school that's on its way to the Big East by allowing Memphis to host C-USA's premier event. But it's likely that Memphis will win the event regardless of where its played, and so why not play it at FedExForum to basically ensure a nice crowd and television presence for the title game?

I tend to agree. With limited exception, Memphis' ongoing success has been C-USA's defining value proposition to TV broadcasters and college basketball fans for nearly a decade. Moving away from that seems foolish, at least in the short term.

But I can also see the other side: If you're Conference USA, you have to move on from Memphis eventually. You don't want to look weak by hanging on for just one last conference tournament, like the guy who agrees to be "friends" with his ex-girlfriend so he can continue seeing her and pathetically pestering her -- "But I still love you!" -- until she realizes he's not interested in being friends at all. (Not that, ahem, I'm speaking from experience. Of course not.)

Sooner or later, C-USA was going to have to find a new venue for its conference tournament. More than that, though, it was going to have to adjust to life after Memphis. Counterproductive as it may seem, 2012-13 is as good a time as any to do just that.

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