TCU & the Absurdity of Expansion

Ok, for those of you that haven’t followed this most recent round of conference expansions closely, here’s a brief summary. Try to keep up.

Texas Christian University, of Fort Worth, announced today that it will join the Big East in 2012 as a full member, which will give the conference a total of 17 teams, with nine playing football. A tenth is likely, as the Big East awaits the decision by charter Big East member Villanova, which currently plays football as part of the I-AA Colonial Athletic Association. Good luck trying to figure out the scheduling and tournament format in basketball for a 17-team conference.

TCU will exit the Mountain West Conference, which seemed only a slightly less-ridiculous regional affiliation than being in the heart of the Southwest as part of the Big East, which already extends into the heart of the Midwest (Milwaukee, Chicago). Since the Southwestern Conference dissolved in 1995, TCU has been a part of the WAC, C-USA and MWC.

This is merely the most recent move in the latest round of conference expansions that reaches as far back as two decades, when the conference elite (and, of course, Notre Dame) began re-defining the structure for college football decadence that ushered in the trend away from numerous regional affiliations towards fewer, elite super-conferences. For the Big East, this is simply strategic, a key survival move to secure its seat at the BCS table when agreements are renegotiated in a few years.

It was inevitable after the ACC raided the Big East in 2004 to stretch its boundaries from northern Florida to the Mid-Atlantic to now cover the entire Atlantic seaboard from Miami to Boston. The Big East was so appalled and furious by the audacity of such action that it responded with its own impudent raid of Conference USA and extended its footprint into Kentucky, Florida, Wisconsin, and Illinois.

After a few quiet years of speculation without action, this past summer is when it finally got quite interesting.

Nebraska didn’t like being subject to Texas, so Tom Osborne & Co. decided the Cornhuskers fit more comfortably in the Big Ten. But not before Colorado had decided it was better suited – i.e., easier to compete – away from Bevo and Boomer Sooner as part of the Pac-10. Boise State escaped the WAC in favor of the MWC with hopes of joining forces with TCU and BYU to eventually taste the royalty of Automatic Qualifier status. But just as quickly, BYU seceded from the MWC in favor of independence, where, like Notre Dame (and eventually Texas), it could secure its own lucrative TV contract (and in BYU’s case, it seems, a platform for promoting LDS).

The Pac-10 and Big Ten each wanted Texas, who eventually wound up staying at home in the Big XII, but only after managing to secure its own independent TV deal, which is all it really wanted anyway, and in fact is the only reason Notre Dame is still a football independent and partial member of the Big East. In addition to Colorado, the Pac-10 also wanted a few of the Big XII Texas Schools plus Oklahoma, while at one point it appeared as if Oklahoma and Texas A&M might join the SEC, which was also apparently considering Florida State and Virginia Tech; meanwhile, the Big Ten also considered Pittsburgh, Rutgers, and Maryland.

So, in summary: The Big East will now expand to 10 teams – still not enough to stage a conference championship game – and its footprint will extend further west than the Big Ten’s. The Big Ten, which had 11 teams, and considered as many as 16, now has 12. The once-mighty Big XII now has 10 teams and will forego a championship game after apparently deciding against adding TCU and perhaps Boise State or maybe even Memphis (at least for now). The Pac-10 will become the Pac-12 after notoriously failing to become the Pac-16, doubling its number of landlocked schools to four – Arizona, Arizona State and now Utah and Colorado. The SEC never really wanted to expand, because, well, it doesn’t really need to, but would have done so out of necessity.

Like the SEC, thankfully this time around the ACC remained unchanged. After all, Swofford got Boston College and Miami back in 2005, and really, what more could we ask?

About LRM

Charter member of the Lunatic Fringe and a fan, loyal to a fault.


21 Responses to TCU & the Absurdity of Expansion

  1. goalielax 11/29/2010 at 5:20 PM #

    It’s good business. To me, the only absurd thing is the fascination people have with geographic locations. You’d think teams traveled by train the way people write about distances these days. Besides, it was abundantly clear the Big XII didn’t want them.

    I bet a lot of coaches in the ACC would give their left nut to be able to play every other year in the center of Texas high school football.

  2. Wufpacker 11/29/2010 at 5:27 PM #

    It is good business, but that does not reduce the absurdity. In fact, it increases it IMHO.

  3. goalielax 11/29/2010 at 5:32 PM #

    But college sports have and always will be a business. It’s just taken tectonic shifts in the landscape like we’ve seen in 2010 for the general public to wake up to the fact it’s not about academic goals, student athletes, etc. at the top levels of revenue sports.

  4. choppack1 11/29/2010 at 5:35 PM #

    Here’s what I don’t get – who is the Big 12 getting to fill that spot?

    Are they going to 11?

    I didn’t understand why they didn’t go after TCU. I also thought it would have been hilarious if they brought in CSU.

  5. LRM 11/29/2010 at 5:41 PM #

    I think geographical affiliations are very important, because they create a cohesive culture to which most of its fans relate. Look no further than how unnatural Boston College and Miami seem as part of the ACC.

    And smaller conferences provide for traditional rivalries to flourish. At the very least, all the teams within a conference could play each other every year.

  6. ncsukyle 11/29/2010 at 7:53 PM #

    I think that this will ultimately be the end of local rivalries and maybe even the ACC in the future.

  7. wolfacct 11/29/2010 at 8:08 PM #

    This is just another step towards the 4 super conferences, each with 16 teams. Question is: Will the ACC survive? Or will Clemson, NCSU(are you listening Bill Cowher), VT and FSU join the SEC. Wake, UVA, UNC and BC go to some Big Elitist Conference with Miami. MD joins the Big Ten. GT possibly to the SEC, assuming Arkansas joins the Big 12 (or some derivative of it), or Vanderbilt goes with the elitist group. This would give the SEC exposure in VA and NC, and set up traditional rivalries within the conferences. This would be the transition from a basketball conference (ACC)to a revenue producing football conference.

  8. VaWolf82 11/29/2010 at 8:09 PM #

    It looks like a no-brainer to me for both sides once TCU determines that it won’t get invited to the Big 12.

    TCU already has to fly to its conference games. Thus flying to the East Coast won’t have much effect on its travel costs…but it will have a much better chance for a BCS bowl.

    TCU gives the Big East a team that at least deserves to play in a BCS games.

    Looks like Win-Win to me.

  9. jrsr 11/29/2010 at 8:09 PM #

    I would like to see the ACC add West Virginia and maybe South Fa, this would add some additional regional rivalry.

  10. fullmoon1 11/29/2010 at 8:13 PM #

    I would take WV but BC has to go and hell we could do without UNCh also lol.

  11. wolfbuff 11/29/2010 at 8:20 PM #

    I don’t see the SEC courting NC State. If they wanted a NC presence they’d go after UNCheat who now fits much better with the academics of that conference. And it would give them instant basketball cred. We have nothing to offer at this point. If the ACC for some reason folded, we’d likely out in the cold.

    I think we should be proactive and go after some Big East schools such as Pitt, UConn, or maybe WVa. As a stretch maybe we could get Penn St. I always thought we should have tried to get them in the 70s

  12. wolfbuff 11/29/2010 at 8:23 PM #

    And I know it would be an uphill battle given the history but I’m over it. Get So Carolina. I think they’d jump back in a heartbeat if asked.

  13. VaWolf82 11/29/2010 at 8:38 PM #

    Why would SC take a paycut to leave the SEC and (re-)join the ACC?

  14. LRM 11/29/2010 at 8:50 PM #

    TCU is no further from Storrs than Boston is from Miami, so the isn’t geographic, necessarily. For the record, I think this is an absolutely great move for both TCU and the Big East.

    But it doesn’t make the events this summer any less absurd.

  15. wolfbuff 11/29/2010 at 10:35 PM #

    SC coming over as part of an expanded ACC would not necessarily be a paycut for them. I agree that as an isolated case it doesn’t make much sense for them

  16. VaWolf82 11/29/2010 at 10:53 PM #

    The ACC is third behind the Big10 and SEC on conference payouts. So why wouldn’t that result in a paycut for SC?

  17. 61Packer 11/30/2010 at 12:33 AM #

    I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes here. It just looks to me like the Big 12 would’ve gone after TCU and maybe Houston to get back to a dozen members and maintain the conference title game revenue each season. It makes no sense to me for a team in Fort Worth to align with an eastern conference, but again what do I know? They sure as hell will never be able to build any rivalries in this league, and to me rivalries are what build sports programs.

    The BCS is responsible for all this crap, along with greedy university administrators. But aren’t they in essence the same thing?

  18. Astral Rain 11/30/2010 at 3:00 AM #

    Someone should take over, force everything into 8 conferences, 11 members, 10-game conference schedules, 8-team playoff of conf champs only.

    It’s doable.

  19. LRM 11/30/2010 at 9:02 AM #

    ” It just looks to me like the Big 12 would’ve gone after TCU and maybe Houston to get back to a dozen members and maintain the conference title game revenue each season.”

    I think the issue to keep in mind is that football money comes from TV revenues, and by all indications the Big XII has the Texas markets already locked up; Fox and ESPN aren’t paying more because they aren’t adding a new market, while the Big East did.

    Also keep in mind that TCU, SMU, Houston and Rice all got shafted when the SWC dissolved, and it there were a lot of politics behind it. I don’t recall seeing a single instance this summer where TCU expressed interest in joining the Big XII.

    I’ve been intrigued by all of this as it’s played out.

  20. Astral Rain 11/30/2010 at 5:06 PM #

    Big 12 should look at BYU and Memphis then.

  21. LRM 11/30/2010 at 5:45 PM #

    Memphis donors have made it clear they are interested in funding a move to the Big XII. BYU has made it very clear they want to be independent.

Leave a Reply