TCU Bails on Big East, Will Join Big 12 InsteadPosted by rtmsf on October 6th, 2011
Perhaps the most peculiar geographic realignment that we had seen in the last year of schools moving around was Texas Christian University‘s decision to join the Big East. Located nearly a thousand miles from the two closest other schools (Louisville and South Florida), it made about as much sense as the Dallas Cowboys playing in the NFC East. And yet, thanks to the meteoric rise in the last decade of Gary Patterson’s Horned Frog football program and its location in the nation’s fifth largest television market, TCU’s cachet had outgrown its affiliation with the Mountain West to the point where it could entertain options. Well, at least one option, and that option was to join a BCS football conference centered in the Northeast regardless of its culture, religion and location.
But if we’ve learned one thing about the rapaciousness of conference realignment in college sports, your best option today is tomorrow’s $1 pastry in the day-old bin. With the Big 12 seemingly getting picked apart by vultures on all sides, and all indications leaning toward Missouri as only the latest defector, the conference had to make a splash soon. That happened today, with the pending announcement that TCU will reunite with some of its old Southwest Conference brethren Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor in the new-and-improved Big 12. An invitation has been extended, and TCU is expected to accept the offer immediately.
What seemed unfathomable to TCU fans a little over a year ago is coming to fruition with a seat at the same table with its former rivals, but it makes a lot of sense. TCU will earn much more money than it ever would have with a struggling Big East, and its centralized location along with its burgeoning football program put it squarely in position to succeed in this conference. From a basketball standpoint, the Horned Frogs are downright terrible (1-15 in the Mountain West last year), but its location in the fertile DFW recruiting area as well as its affiliation with a legitimately strong basketball league can only help its status. As a relevant example, just look at what Baylor has been able to do in recent years.
As for the Big East, well, it’s looking more and more like this league will become a mid-major football conference and that its basketball core will once again revert to the northeastern Catholic schools from which it started over 30 years ago — Georgetown, St. John’s, Providence, Villanova, and Seton Hall — with the retention of a few others like Marquette, DePaul and Notre Dame (in sports other than football). If the Big East wanted to really return to its roots and differentiate itself, why not make a play for the biggest and baddest basketball-only Catholic schools around the nation? Try this on for size:
- La Salle
- St. Joseph’s
- St. Mary’s
The new hoops-only Big East could recruit and get every one of those schools, and in so doing, build a pretty substantial national basketball powerhouse with enough legitimacy to challenge the inevitable football-centric superconferences that are coming. In times of crisis, conferences have to be creative. This would be one way for the Big East to save itself from complete and total irrelevance on the national scene while getting back to what it was always good at — college basketball.