Have The Memphis Tigers Benefited From Modern Realignment?

Have The Memphis Tigers Benefited From Modern Realignment?
Fact Checked by Nate Hamilton

The college football season is less than a month away and Tennessee sports betting is ready for it, but one of the hottest topics dominating the lead-up to kick-off has nothing to do with the on-the-field action.

For the second time in the past 15 years, the NCAA is undergoing a seismic shift in its conference alignment. Already we’ve seen the Pac-12 seemingly collapse overnight as commissioner George Kliavkoff has continually failed to score a media rights contract. The first domino to fall was Colorado’s return to the Big 12 conference, but as of Friday, Utah, Arizona, and Arizona State had announced their plans to follow suit in 2024.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Washington and Oregon also announced their intention to leave the Pac-12 and join the Big Ten conference after this season concludes.

Back in June, it was speculated Memphis may be joining the Big 12, but with the Pac-12 now down to just four teams, the rumor mill has shifted to suggesting the Tigers may be headed there from the AAC. While Memphis is staying put for now, conference rivals Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF have all jumped ship to the Big 12.

With realignment shifting the landscape of college football once again, BetTennessee.com is looking back at the impact of the last time the college football conference deck was re-shuffled between 2011-2014. Using the stat catalog of SportsReference.com, decided to rank the biggest winners.

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Recent College Football Realignment Winners

Below you’ll see the five teams that benefitted most from the last round of realignment, with the Memphis Tigers sneaking into the top five.

TeamNew ConferenceRecord/Accolades
UtahPac 12 (2011)96-54; 6 Ranked Finishes; 2X Pac 12 Champions; 2 NY6 Bowl Appearances
TCUBig 12 (2012)87-53; 4 Ranked Finishes; 1X Big 12 Champions; 1 CFP/NCG Appearance
UCFAAC (2013)86-41; 4 Ranked Finishes; 4X AAC Champions; 3 NY6/BCS Bowl Appearances
CincinnatiAAC (2013)86-41; 4 Ranked Finishes; 3X AAC Champions; 2 NY6 Appearances
MemphisAAC (2013)81-47; 3 Ranked Finishes; 2X AAC Champions; 1 NY6 Bowl Appearance

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Memphis Makes Top Five Teams to Benefit From Realignment

Utah may be leaving the Pac-12, but they certainly excelled during their time there. Under the leadership of long-time coach Kyle Whittingham, the Utah program boasted a .640 winning record, including two Pac-12 championships. They’ll be leaving the conference in style after managing back-to-back 10-4 seasons over the past two years.

The second biggest benefactor of the last major realignment was TCU. Since joining the Big-12 in 2012, they’ve earned an 87-53 (.621) record and four finishes inside the AP Top 25 — including scoring last season’s No. 2 spot.

The 2013 introduction of the American Athletic Conference (known as the Big East Conference before that) has been kind to a trio of college football teams who find themselves among our top 5 biggest winners of the last realignment: UCF, Cincinnati, and Memphis.

For their part, the Tigers have gone 81-47 (.633) as part of the AAC, with the bulk of those wins coming under coach Mike Norvell, who went 38-15 (.717) before departing for Florida State after the 2019 season. They also won a conference championship in 2014 with coach Justin Fuente.

Current coach Ryan Silverfield hasn’t fared as well in his three years with the Tigers but sits above the .500 mark in terms of win percentage (21-16). Nevertheless, with Cincinnati, Houston and UCF moving to the Big 12, there’s an opportunity for Memphis to establish itself as the big dog in the AAC. For that to happen, first-string QB Seth Henigan will need to take his already excellent play to the next level. As the only true freshman to start a season opener in program history, Henigan has been a revelation for the Tigers since joining the team in 2021.

After capping off his sophomore year by leading Memphis to a dominant victory over Utah State in the 2022 Responder Bowl, and winning the game’s MVP, Henigan is surely eager to pick up where he left off last season.

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Author

Jeff Parker is an entertainment writer for BetTennessee.com. A writer for film, television and the internet, Jeff is a life long movie buff, with a Masters Degree in Popular Culture. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he works full time as documentary filmmaker and producer.