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Memphis sent the Big 12 some of its famous ribs. Let’s rank 14 candidates by food bribes they could use

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Looking good, Tulane!

Central BBQ in Memphis
Eater.com

The possibility of joining the Big 12 has led schools to try all sorts of creative things. Lots of places, like Cincinnati and Colorado State, have sent pamphlets or promotional materials. Houston called the politicians. UCF touted video games. East Carolina is @ ing everybody on Twitter. You get the idea.

But Memphis might have had the most creative pitch yet. It sent Texas Tech some ribs. No, seriously. Via the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal:

The University of Memphis is so eager to get into the Big 12, university president M. David Rudd apparently even plied a Texas Tech counterpart with some of the city’s famous barbecue.

After extolling the virtues of the university and the city in a roughly 300-word e-mail to Tech’s then-interim President John Opperman, Rudd wrote, "We have enclosed some of our famous Rendezvous ribs to share the genuine flavor of Memphis."

Sending a different style of barbecue to West Texas seems a little risky. Our Texas Tech blog, Viva The Matadors, said, "That would be like if we sent Mexico some Taco Bell."

If nothing else, a conference administrator is probably more likely to remember the university that mailed meat over one that sent another long PDF.

But does Memphis have the best possible Big 12 food bribe, if that’s what this decision comes down to, rather than athletic department size, TV markets and institutional fit? Here's my list, and you're invited to add yours in the comments.

  1. Tulane. This is obvious. From crawfish to po’boys, gumbo to muffaletta, basically everything in New Orleans is delicious. Tulane could send the Big 12 a package from various gas stations in Uptown and it would still taste better than anything the rest of this group could put together.
  2. SMU. SMU is in Dallas, home of the State Fair of Texas, where you can get all manner of delicious things deep-fried and exceedingly horrible for you. Other cities might have better overall culinary reputations, but Dallas can send the Big 12 a platter of Pecan Lodge.
  3. Colorado State. Fort Collins might not have the dining cred that some of these other cities do, but it also has like, a zillion craft breweries, and beer makes a perfectly good food bribe.
  4. New Mexico. Albuquerque may not be very big, but you know what it has? Green chili cheeseburgers. Those are delicious.
  5. East Carolina. Greenville is small and mostly full of chains, but it is home to lots of places to get really good Carolina barbecue. Not sure how a bunch of beef-eating, sauce-avoiding Texans will respond to vinegar pork BBQ, though. Maybe ECU can just send the skeptical Texans a Cook-Out shake.
  6. Memphis.
  7. USF. Tampa should send a box of the finest culinary innovation to come out of the city: Hooters wings. Just kidding: the Cuban sandwich.
  8. Houston. Houston may not have the specific food identity like New Orleans, but it’s a massive city that has everything from Vietnamese to Tex-Mex to Whataburger.
  9. Boise State. Baked potatoes and french fries are pretty good, imo.
  10. Temple. OK fine, Temple can send a cheesesteak. Whatever.
  11. BYU. Sure, Provo doesn’t have a national reputation for a dynamic food scene. But you do find Apple Beer everywhere, which is actually pretty tasty. You can pair that with a Cougar Tail, a massive, 16-inch maple donut thing they sell at BYU, to guarantee you get delicious diabetes.
  12. UCF. The play here probably isn’t a specific food, but passes to go on a world drinking tour at Epcot.
  13. UConn. Uh, the Huskies can send a slice of New York pizza that somebody drove for an hour back to Storrs, then mailed.
  14. Cincinnati. I’m from Ohio. I’ve had Skyline chili. Sending that to a university president should be a felony.