Now that TCU is heading to the Big East, which is now their fifth league since the Southwest Conference is this a good long term move for both parties. The Big East this season is obviously struggling as a football league with only West Virginia being ranked in the top 25, but they are not in the drivers seat for a BCS bid as that falls to 7-4 Connecticut.
The Big East had to do something because during the summer expansion extravaganza a lot of people were saying that the Big East was not going to be around in a few years. The fear was that Rutgers and Pitt were going to the Big 10 which would have essentially killed the Big East's automatic BCS status. However, the Big 10 went the Big 12 and took Nebraska to shore up their 12 team league. That saved the Big East, but this season has made the Big East an embarrassment of a BCS league as their BCS representative could be an unranked team, so a move needed to be made.
The Big East hired former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue as a consultant to assist the league to basically stay a viable BCS football league. Looking out East there are not many teams that are eye-popping if added to the Big East. The only two teams that are good teams in football are Navy and East Carolina, and since we fly jets when traveling looking into Texas for TCU was an option. The only problem is that TCU is all by themselves with the closet team being South Florida and Louisville. The travel is not that big of an issue and is only slightly more in the Big East then the Mountain West.
Travel is no longer an issue just look at how spread out Conference USA is, plus in the Big East non-team sports such as tennis, track and field, cross country and swimming do not have to compete in conference. So, they can schedule their own events and only attend the conference tournaments.
So, was this a good move for the Big East?
They are putting a lot of faith in TCU continuing to being a football power for the foreseeable future and as long as Gary Patterson is there TCU will be a top team. TCU has a great football history back in the 30's with two of the greatest quarterbacks ever with Sammy Baugh and Davey O'Brien, during that time TCU won a national championship in 1935 and 1938. TCU was still relevant during the 1940s and 50s by winning five conference titles. After that, TCU did not win a conference title until 1994 where there was a five-way tie in the old Southwest Conference which was due to Texas A&M being on probation. The Aggies were the best team in the league that year by a mile and would have won.
From 1998 to the present day TCU has been a very good team. The Horned Frogs have won six conference titles, ranked in the top 25 eight times with three of those teams in the top 12 and have been to 12 bowl games with seven wins. After this season the bowl count will have gone up to 13.
So, there is a huge gap in history there where TCU was not very good, but not many teams have a streak of 70 years of great football, but a decade worth is a large enough sample. Sticking to football, what happens if TCU has a down year or five and turns into an also ran in a league where they have no rival or fit geographically. I honestly do not seeing TCU falling so far off the map they are having five win seasons, but the reason they are being brought into the Big East is to shore up their football league. That means they need TCU to consistently be in the top 25 and contend for the conference title to make this work.
One thing TCU mentions in this deal is the increased television exposure. While the Big East has a deal with ESPN and allows local broadcasts in my opinion the exposure is not significantly better for those outside of the TCU market. At least with the Mountain West television deal if you have DirecTv one could see every football game that is on television, regardless of location. Right now there is the occasional Thursday night game on ESPN and then just a few on ESPN on the weekend with the rest relegated to a local broadcast only (unless you get ESPN Game Plan).
Besides the Big East wanting TCU to shore up their football the Dallas/Fort Worth market is a top 10 market. Having a large market is good, but as I have said a thousand times TCU is well down on the list of popularity and if the Big East is thinking that the people in Dallas will watch Syracuse vs. South Florida or Louisville vs. Pitt are mistake. They will be watching Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M from Big 12 action before they watch a Big East game unless it has consequences for TCU.
Also, college football has been changing so much with teams changing leagues and what happens if the Big 12 goes back to 12 teams or if say Texas goes independent -- since they have that television deal with ESPN -- and the Big 12 needs to restructure. TCU would be a choice to move into the league and if Nebraska coach Bo Pelini is to believed the Big 12 is looking to get back to 12 teams and soon:
Pelini says the Big 12 will "probably add" teams and have conference title game again "pretty quick"
Who knows that could range from them adding BYU, Boise State, Air Force or TCU. That would put the Big East right back where they are and with TCU conference jumping since 1995 they really do not have any loyalty and only would if they would get back in a league with the Texas schools.
The Big 12 is not really too stable either as it was reported earlier this week that the Big East had a plan to take the Big 12 North and with Texas getting a $12 million per year from ESPN with murmurs of them going independent. So, the Big 12 could be looking for more teams if Texas breaks off and TCU would jump at the chance to get in the Big 12. Plus, what happens if a playoff ever comes to to pass (I know a long shot right now) so why would TCU needs to stay in the Big East, and they would try to get out of the league at the first chance,
Those are a lot of what-ifs but look how drastically the college football landscape has changed since this past June. The Pac-10, Big 10, Big East added schools, the Mountain West is completely different and BYU went independent. Plus, the Big East and Mountain West are not done adding teams whereas the WAC is trying to stay alive.
This is a good short tearm move by both sides which is current goal, as for the long term college sports are cyclical with only a few teams that can sustain a lengthy period of time as a dominant team. Long term I think TCU will be more of a burden then being a school that brought in a good football team that solidified their league.