Will the Horned Frogs join the Big East? (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Even though the other expansion stuff hasn't really piqued my interest, I've got to admit to being a little more interested in the whole TCU thing. Not so much in that I think it will or won't happen. But TCU would legitimately bring something to the table in terms of bettering the conference. We've all heard the usual suspects: Central Florida, Memphis, et al. But this - this is different.
So in addition to the original New York Post report, lots of folks are now reporting that the Big East and TCU have actually already held talks. So what is TCU saying about the story? Well, as expected, nothing:
"TCU is a proud member of the Mountain West Conference," TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte said in a statement. "During this period of an ever-changing landscape in collegiate athletics, there has been speculation on future conference affiliation for TCU. Our policy has always been and will remain to not respond to rumors."
John Paquette, the Big East’s associate commissioner for communications, declined comment.
"We don’t comment on individual schools and membership," Paquette said.
And if the AD had nothing to say, you know the football coach isn't budging:
"I don't have an opinion right now," Patterson said. "I'm trying to beat Colorado State."
Of course there's no denial. Even if there were nothing to the rumors, it behooves TCU to leave everyone guessing. It makes them appear more attractive if it seems a BCS conference is at their door and could draw interest from others conferences.
And this isn't the first mention we've heard of TCU joining the Big East. The message boards were abuzz back in August about this and Brian Bennett of ESPN.com actually fielded a question about TCU joining the conference back in May. Travel is the most frequently mentioned roadblock to TCU joining the Big East. Bennett was also concerned about it and wasn't even sure if TCU would want to join the Big East:
The problem I see is of course geography. Not just the travel expenses, but TCU would feel like an outsider in its own league because it's so far away. The school would have no natural rivals. The other thing is, TCU might be just as well off in the Mountain West, especially if that league decides to add Boise State and expand. The Mountain West isn't far from gaining an automatic BCS bid in the next cycle. TCU would also be an attractive option for the Big 12 if that league needs replacements.
So while I could see the Big East wanting TCU, I'm not sure the feeling would be mutual.
Now that it seems a possibility (though, I'm still not sure how much of one), I'm certainly not going to bash Bennett. At the time, I would have had the same feelings and to some degree, I still do.
Ah, that travel thing. So is it an issue? Sure. For starters, it appears that TCU, on average, is about 350 more miles away from Big East schools than it is from Mountain West schools. While that's significant, the thing to point out is that TCU is, on average, more than 900 miles away from the other Mountain West schools. I'm guessing there aren't too many bus rides in their schedules, and while a few more hours on a plane is significant, I don't think it's a dealbreaker.
And, by the way, as if TCU needed another reason to consider joining a BCS conference...