So we've all seen the announcement that TCU is headed to the Big East. So, now what?
Well, to start, the announcement has been made official by the Big East:
"Our membership is genuinely excited to add an institution of the caliber of TCU to our Conference," stated BIG EAST Conference Commissioner John Marinatto. "Chancellor Boschini and athletic director Chris Del Conte clearly share the same academic and athletic aspirations of our current members and are similarly committed to sponsoring a very highly competitive athletic program. Located in one of the top five media markets in the country, TCU also enables the BIG EAST to extend its media footprint, which already encompasses more than a quarter of the country."
"The addition of TCU ensures that the BIG EAST will continue to remain one of the nation’s premier athletic conferences well into the future," stated John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President of Notre Dame and Chairman of the BIG EAST CEO Executive Committee. "With TCU, the BIG EAST adds an excellent academic institution that combines outstanding athletic achievement with a commitment to NCAA compliance and educational success of its student-athletes."
Big East fans might not necessarily be thinking about this, but it's a crippling blow to the Mountain West Conference. The MWC had thoughts of hopefully securing an automatic BCS bid in the next round of decisions a few years from now. With the departures of Utah, BYU, and now TCU, that's looking like less and less of a possibility. The MWC, which had all the hope in the world after landing Boise State earlier this season, is now looking considerably different:
BYU and Utah are leaving the conference just as Boise State enters. Del Conte said losing BYU and Utah was a "significant blow" to the Mountain West.
"It was not the same league that we joined," he said. "It's not the same home that we bought, it's not same home we were invited to, and things changed, the landscape changed."
Obviously the person who is arguably most happy is football coach Gary Patterson:
"This is a great move," coach Gary Patterson said. "I'll say this, we don't seem to get bored around this place. ... The one last mark people have held against in recruiting is that we were not an automatic qualifier. Now that's been erased."
And talk about lateral moves - Boise State now has perhaps the most egg on its face. It's heading to a conference that after the additions of Fresno State, Nevada, and maybe Hawaii, is now not much stronger than its current league, the WAC. I'd love to hear what the Broncos' administrators are thinking. Well, here's what their football coach
Coach Chris Petersen tried to put a happy face on the news, saying, "I still think it’s a good conference, a better conference than the conference we’re in right now."
There's no question Boise State made the move in the hopes that the MWC would eventually get an at-large bid, or at the very least, get to strengthen its schedule with games against teams like Utah, BYU, and TCU.
And WAC Commissioner Karl Benson, like most of us would do, is having a good laugh at all of this:
"I’m sure the WAC members that have elected to go to the Mountain West thought they were going to get closer to the automatic qualifying conferences. But in effect not a whole lot of upward movement has been made by those three schools."
So what about basketball. Well, as I mentioned earlier today, Pitt coach Jamie Dixon played a big part
in helping to land TCU. Still, there are going to be the rumblings that the basketball league is just too, well, big. Is the conference big? Sure it is. But the fact is that it was big before. Right now, teams play each team once and three teams twice. So, essentially, teams will just double up less. I could be oversimplifying this, but it really doesn't seem like a big deal to me. Unless the Big East cuts all or most of its basketball-only schools, its always going to be too big. Just the way it is.
And on the football side of things again, will the league add one more to get to ten? Well, Villanova has a standing invitation, though who knows how long that will last. But if they decline, I think the Big East will still do all it can to add at least one more team.
So there's also one other issue that is irking some - the distance. How will TCU and the league cope with the distance? Well, to be honest, I think we're going to see a lot more of this. The Big Ten and Nebraska kind of kicked things off as Lincoln isn't exactly a hop, skip, and a jump away from schools like Penn State. The more time goes on, the more we're going to see schools and conferences simply learn to deal with this. Flights cost money, but is a flight to Fort Worth from Syracuse really all that much more than one to Louisville? I can't imagine so.
So then there's the time. There's no argument that a flight 1,000 miles away is a bit of a hassle, but it's one trip a year for the other schools. It's going to be strange for TCU to make that many long trips, but honestly, don't you think it's worth it for them to get into the BCS? Programs like field hockey and volleyball might not think so, but for the school as a whole, it's clearly the right move.
It's cliche to say it, but this is a win-win for both sides.