The Frogs thought they had it made.
Finally, 17 years after Baylor shoved them out of the way for a seat at the big kids’ table, TCU was getting its shot.
After accepting an invitation to the Big East, TCU was no longer on the outside looking in. Everything was right with the world, and TCU in the Big East looked like a perfect fit.
That lasted for about 8 seconds.
In all of the conference shuffle, the Big East was always teetering on the brink of a breakup. Now, one seems inevitable. Pittsburgh and Syracuse are both going to the ACC, and it looks like UConn, and possibly Rutgers, aren’t very far behind.
This is, essentially, the death of the Big East. I’m of the school of thought that ESPN has more to do with all the conference realignment than anyone is giving them “credit” for, but that’s neither here nor there.
As a TCU fan, it’s frustrating. I’m looking several places to lay blame. Big East commissioner John Marianatto. TCU AD Chris Del Conte. Pitt and Syracuse.
But in the end, laying blame doesn’t solve anything. Instead, let’s try to work through what’s going to happen next.
First, a quick recap of where everything stands right now.
The ACC now has 14 members with the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse. They look primed and ready to become the first superconference, with the possibility of adding UConn and Rutgers.
The SEC seemingly has no plans to add a 14th team to the conference, after last month’s addition of Texas A&M as the 13th team. That could change very quickly if they see other conferences approaching the realm of superconference.
The Pac-12 is once again courting Texas and Oklahoma, and by association Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. It seems like this time around commissioner Larry Scott is more willing to work around the Longhorn Network. These additions would push the Pac-12 to 16 teams.
The remaining Big East schools are West Virginia, South Florida, Cincinnati, Louisville and, for the purpose of this conversation, TCU.
The remaining Big-12 schools, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri, are in almost as bad a position as the remaining Big East schools. It has long been rumored that the Kansas schools and either Missouri or Iowa State would apply for the Big East should Texas and OU leave the conference.
The Big Ten is quiet, but something other than dust has to be rattling around in those old fogeys heads.
Keeping all of that in mind, what happens next? Does TCU still have a chance to make it into a superconference?
The likely scenario is that the Big East and Big-12 leftovers merge and form a revamped Big East, and that’s what’s being reported by ESPN as of this afternoon. The merge would create a 10 team conference. It would make sense after that to give Boise State, SMU and Houston calls to bid on becoming the 11th and 12th members. They would be able to keep their AQ status for at least the next two years, until the current BCS contract was up. It would then be up to those schools to prove to the BCS that they deserve to keep their status.
Meanwhile the SEC could take West Virginia, Missouri and South Florida, making it a 16-team superconference. If the SEC didn’t want to expand to 16, they could at least add either WVU or Missouri to even out the divisions.
The real question is, what will the Big Ten do? If they decide to expand, who will they approach?
It’s pretty common knowledge that Pittsburgh was on the Big Ten’s list for teams they would consider for expansion. That’s obviously out of the question now.
It’s pretty safe to say that the Big Ten would throw the kitchen sink at Notre Dame in an attempt to get them to join. Also on the list would have to be Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State. If either or both of the Kansas schools were to join the Big Ten, the merger between the Big-12 and Big East would need to find even more teams to add. That could lead to invitations for Central Florida, East Carolina or Air Force.
It’ll be interesting to see how the conferences split up teams once we reach 16 teams in a conference. The projection for the Pac-16 would be four, four team pods. A team would play all three teams in its pod, as well as two teams from each of the other three pods, giving them a nine game conference schedule.
I like that idea, because it would allow for three non-conference games, giving teams the opportunity to preserve rivalries that may have been lost (i.e. Texas vs. Texas A&M).
I thought we were still at least two or three years away from superconferences, and we still may be, but now it’s looking more and more imminent.
Either way, TCU better be prepared for a roller coaster. It’s not going to be an easy ride from here on out.