Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

06 Oct 2011

Sources: TCU Voting on Big 12 Invite

According to ESPN Dallas, the Big 12 has extended an invitation to TCU to join the conference. They are currently deciding if that is in their best interests. With Syracuse and Pittsburgh already fleeing the Big East, losing TCU would likely be a crippler for the conference's future BCS hopes.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 06 Oct 2011

22 comments, Last at 10 Oct 2011, 7:51pm by sundown


by UConnymous (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2011 - 2:11pm

As a UConn fan this is welcome news as the best I can hope for is that the Big East collapses and UConn, with its smattering of NY fans, gets an offer by a legitimate football-playing conference. After years of animosity for Miami and, especially, Boston College, it's now clear it's the people who run the Big East who suck.

by Guido Merkens :: Thu, 10/06/2011 - 2:42pm

Well, either that or UConn will be forced to join Conference USA in football and brace for exciting road trips to Tulsa and El Paso.

by Cro-mags (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2011 - 3:08pm

Great regional rivalry for UCONN.

by dryheat :: Thu, 10/06/2011 - 3:20pm

I don't think the Big East could've done much to prevent it. They and Miami used each other for about two decades, and with the ACC wanting a conference championship game, they proactively poached them...with Virginia Tech going along as a condition imposed by UVA and Maryland for their support.

Remember that the ACC's original plan was Miami, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh...and BC was a signatory to the lawsuit to block them. After Syracuse and Pittsburgh pledged to remain in the Big East, Boston College jumped in...so they deserve all the animosity they get.

Unfortunately, things have gotten to the stage of every program having to look out for its own best interests, loyalties be damned. The only thing that can save the Big East now is if TCU stays and Notre Dame joins up ... which is unlikely, to be charitable.

In hindsight, the only thing one can blame the Big East for is not poaching before it could be poached....and given it's basketball-first nature, that might not have worked for very long.

My hope is for every program to become an independent.

by apk3000 :: Thu, 10/06/2011 - 3:55pm

Pretty sure VT was a condition of the VA legislature, the ACC wanted BC, Syracuse and Miami as the package, supposedly for the TV markets.

The inherent problem was always the BE football teams needing a home. If the ACC had accepted the Big East's football membership only proposal years ago, maybe the whole expansion mess doesn't happen.

by Jericho (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2011 - 9:32am

You are correct. Pitt was never part of the initial expansion. It was supposed to be Syracuse, BC, and Miami. The short version is that the conference wanted Miami for football reasons (and geographically it made much more sense for Miami to be ACC), but needed 7 of 9 schools to approve its addition. With UNC and Duke blocking all expansion, the compromise was reached to invite BC and Syracuse. Lawsuits were filed and VT managed to politic their way in when Virginia was also blocked from voting for any expansion that did not include VT.

As for the Big East, the non-football schools always created an uneasy tension. But this most recent wave of defections seems to be internal. Syracuse in particular has stated how they had grown frustrated with the non-football schools voting on football matters. So it appears they reached back out to the ACC. They weren't the only school (it appears as many as 10 made fairly serious inquires), but Syracuse and Pitt were the only schools the ACC felt it could not pass up.

What this means for UCONN remains to be seen. I think the ACC would take them, but they seem to be holding out for Notre Dame these days.

by zlionsfan :: Thu, 10/06/2011 - 2:52pm

I assume by "voting" the source meant "deliberating just long enough to make it look good and then clutching the BCS lifeline like a played-out analogy".

by Cro-mags (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2011 - 3:12pm

The decision to leave might be easy, except that it's reported that there is a $5M exit fee for doing so.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2011 - 5:45pm

Compared to the amount of money involved in this game of musical chairs, $5 million is not that much of a price to pay to be one of the "haves" when the music stops.

To me, the real problem is that it's questionable to think that the Big 12 is really much more secure than the Big East. The Big East is definitely in trouble, but the only reason TCU is even being invited to the Big 12 is because the Big 12 has well-publicized problems of its own. If this was any of the other BCS conferences extending this invitation, TCU takes it in a heartbeat.

by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2011 - 6:21pm

It's huge for the Big 12 and makes a ton more sense for TCU than the Big East ever did. That said, the Big 12 better hope the Pac-12 or SEC don't come calling because it's clear TCU won't think twice about changing their mind if they see a better deal. Leaving a conference before you've ever actually played in it? That's the wonderful new world of conference realignment.

by CuseFanInSoCal :: Thu, 10/06/2011 - 7:43pm

Eh. They've basically been trying to get into the Big 12 since the SWC fell apart. I mean, yes, they'd go if the Pac 12 or SEC or Big Ten called (because they are not run by crazy people), but I doubt they go actively looking anymore unless it looks like Texas/Oklahoma are on their way out (which admittedly, may happen in the not too distant future).

by justanothersteve :: Thu, 10/06/2011 - 10:17pm

I think the Pac12 and SEC are going to call several schools before they would consider TCU.

by Fielding Melish (not verified) :: Thu, 10/06/2011 - 11:30pm

Yeah, I don't think TCU really fits into the demographic that the Pac-12 is looking for. San Diego State is more likely, if at all.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2011 - 2:35pm

I think the point was it doesn't speak well of people or organizations who break agreements. I see nothing wrong with weighing various options or even playing conferences off each other to get a better deal like Texas did with the Pac 10 and Big 12. But to actually sign with a conference and never play there is pretty low. I think the next step is going to be conferences kicking underperformers out to make room for stronger schools.

by dbostedo :: Fri, 10/07/2011 - 6:19pm

I agree in principle, but what would you have had them do?

After they play one season in the Big East, is it then OK to leave?

What about the conference they're currently ditching?

Wasn't the Mountain West Conference counting on having TCU around to help bolster their league?

Or were they in MWC long enough that somehow their loyalty has been fulfilled? (I don't mean that to be snarky - it's a real question.)

TCU hasn't been in any conference for longer than 7 years (in their current conference) since the SWC broke up in 1995 (from Wikipedia) :

* 1996-2000: Western Athletic Conference
* 2001-2004: Conference USA
* 2005–2012: Mountain West Conference
* 2012-:Big XII Conference

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 10/10/2011 - 7:51pm

You ask a fair question. My answer would be an analogy to marriage. Couples get divorced and most people understand and write it off as things not always working out. But you abandon somebody at the altar and people aren't nearly as forgiving. That's not always fair but it is how things tend to go. TCU is ending up in a better and far more logical choice. But it's fair to wonder if they couldn't have accomplished this without ever agreeing to join the Big East. It'd have saved them $5 million and some integrity.

by andrew :: Fri, 10/07/2011 - 9:51am

2012 Big East Football Members:

University of Connecticut
University of Phoenix Online
Connecticut School of Broadcasting
ITT Technical Institute
New England Culinary Institute
DeVry University
Art Instruction Schools

by Joseph :: Fri, 10/07/2011 - 11:00am

I think the Big 12-minus-2 should have done this WAAAYY earlier. I don't know who the other school would have been, but TCU + SMU/Rice/Tulsa/Colorado St. would have kept 12 schools in the conference, and might have kept A&M from leaving.

How's this for irony--maybe they should have looked at getting Iowa out of the Big 10-plus-2, since Iowa St. is already in the conference.
Or maybe they should look at getting Arkansas from the SEC, since then the SEC wouldn't have to worry about bigger divisions, scheduling problems, and whatnot.
[I'm not at all bitter--I'm an LSU fan, after all--but I think that this is all getting ridiculous.]

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Fri, 10/07/2011 - 2:53pm

There's zero incentive for Iowa or any other Big 10 school to go to the Big 12. It'd be less prestige, less money, less stability, less of everything. And Iowa already plays Iowa State every year, so they wouldn't even gain from that.

Arkansas is basically the same story, except they'd have a much better shot at a BCS bowl if they moved to a lesser conference. That was one thing I don't think Texas A&M really thought about before making their move. In a good year they were a threat to win the Big 12. They'll need excellent years to contend in the SEC and good will likely leave them in the middle of the pack.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Sat, 10/08/2011 - 12:12am

"That was one thing I don't think Texas A&M really thought about before making their move. In a good year they were a threat to win the Big 12."

So? Why do they care?

The athletic department cares about making money, not really about wins. I mean, wins are cool and all, and you get a bit more money from boosters, but really not that much more. The extra high profile teams from the SEC will easily make that up. Getting to a BCS bowl as the conference champion is really not a priority, money wise. It doesn't really get them any more money, since all the conferences split the autoberth money evenly.

Running in the middle of the pack in the SEC is fine by Texas A&M, I'm sure, so long as they get that check from the TV contract.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 10/10/2011 - 7:31pm

The fans will care. The coaches who end up getting run for not winning enough will eventually care, as well. On the ledger sheet it may always be all about the TV money, but for the fans it's going to be about more than that.

by Jericho (not verified) :: Sun, 10/09/2011 - 9:42am

None of these ideas really make sense. No one from the SEC or B1G 10 is coming to the Big 12. Not only is it a big step down financially, but there's a lot of uncertainty to the conference.

Adding third tier schools also does not make sense. Schools like Rice and CSU will always be there. They really don't add much to the conference. A & M did not leave because of the lack of opponents anyway. They left because of Texas. After the Pac 12 move collapsed, concessions were made to give Texas a lot of incentive to stay, and all of a sudden schools that had viable alternatives began to look elsewhere. Colorado and Nebraska already left, and Missouri would love to follow A & M out the door. Outside of Oklahoma (which made its own overtures), no one else is really attractive enough to find a better home. This is not a coincidence all these schools are leaving.

But at least the Big 12 looks better than the Big East, which is more or less done as a major football conference.