(WMC-TV) - University of Memphis Athletic Director R.C. Johnson said the Tigers "deserve" to be in the SEC in an interview Monday with Action News 5.
Appearing on the first day of 'Paint the Town Blue' week, Johnson addressed the university's position in the midst of a flurry of conference re-alignments in recent months.
"We want to try to get ourselves in the best possible place," Johnson said. "Ultimately we would like to be in the SEC. That's where we think we belong geographically. We think we deserve to be."
Openings in the Big East after the departures of Syracuse and Pittsburgh led to speculation that Memphis could eventually be destined for that conference. However, Johnson's comments Monday may have signaled otherwise.
"We're turning over every stone possible because we want to make this a bright future for Tiger Athletics, and conference realignment I think is part of that," Johnson said.
Commercial Appeal columnist Geoff Calkins scoffed at the idea.
"He can't be serious, in the sense of, they deserve to be in the SEC, like I deserve to be Mr. Universe. It's just so beyond the realm of reality in terms of where they are that you almost have to assume that he hadn't had his morning coffee or something," Caulkins said. "Why get up at five in the morning to go on a TV program to say you should be in SEC, when there is as much chance that you will be transported to Mars today as there is be in the SEC."
While Johnson has done great things for the Memphis basketball program, Caulkins said, he has failed to put Memphis in an advantageous position to get into the Big East, much less the SEC.
"Very recently the Big East has said they are going to expand by as many as six football teams," he said. "Shockingly, Memphis may not even be one of those six."
Do you think the Tigers deserve to be in the SEC? Let us know by leaving a comment below.