By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
TCU was all set to join the Big East after the 2011 season, but it appears those plans have changed. The Horned Frogs have been invited to the Big 12 and all signs point to accepting in time for the 2012 season.
Although the Big East recently claimed TCU was committed to the conference, this is an easy decision for the school. The Big East has been hit by defections and only seven football schools (counting TCU), were prepared to play in 2012. The Big 12 has had its share of problems, but appears to be on stable ground with the schools granting television rights to the conference.
After losing Texas A&M and potentially Missouri to the SEC, the Big 12 was facing an uncertain future and needed to expand. Depending on what happens with Missouri, the conference could be stuck at eight teams. However, the addition of TCU bolsters the conference back to 10 teams for now, while the Big 12 waits to see what Missouri decides.
The Horned Frogs do not add any new markets, but this is a great move by the Big 12. The addition of TCU only helps the conference strengthen its hold in Texas and is an obvious geographic fit. Although finding ways to add revenue has been a driving force behind realignment, the Big 12 made a good decision to stay local and add the Horned Frogs into the mix.
TCU is one of the most competitive teams available for the Big 12 to add. The Horned Frogs posted a 13-0 season and claimed the Rose Bowl title over Wisconsin last season. Although boosting the conference's bottom line is important, so is adding a competitive team that will help stabilize things for the future.
Under coach Gary Patterson, TCU has posted a 101-30 record and consistently contended for a spot among the top 25. Patterson has been rumored to be in the mix for several head coaching jobs in previous years, but now that the Horned Frogs are in a BCS conference, it should keep him around for a long time in Fort Worth.
Patterson has done a great job on the recruiting trail, but having the opportunity to play for an automatic bid every year will continue to help attract talent. TCU ranked No. 26 in Athlon’s 2011 recruiting class rankings. Considering what Patterson did with TCU’s recruiting in a non-AQ conference, he should be able to only bolster those efforts now in the Big 12.
Also, Amon G. Carter Stadium is undergoing a massive renovation and will be a top-notch facility once it’s completed. Considering the upgrades to the stadium, location and budget, there’s no reason for TCU to struggle in the Big 12.
TCU was once rivals with Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech in the Southwest Conference. The Horned Frogs were left out of the Big 12 when it was formed, but now get a chance to rebuild those rivalries, with the exception of Texas A&M with its move to the SEC.
TCU is expected to join the Big 12 in time for the 2012 season and with a solid core returning, should challenge for a finish in the top five of the conference.
With TCU not joining the Big East, that conference’s future appears to be in doubt. The Big East was already dealing with the loss of Syracuse and Pittsburgh and has only six teams in its football setup for 2012.
Here’s how the Big 12 will currently look in 2012:
* Missouri is considering leaving the Big 12 for another conference, likely the SEC.
Here’s a look at TCU’s Record Against Big 12 Teams:
Baylor – Horned Frogs lead overall series 50-49-7
Iowa State – Horned Frogs lead overall series 3-0
Kansas – Horned Frogs lead overall series 16-8-4
Kansas State – Horned Frogs lead overall series 3-2
Missouri - Series is tied 1-1
Oklahoma – Sooners lead overall series 7-4
Oklahoma State – Cowboys lead overall series 11-9-2
Texas – Longhorns lead overall series 61-20-1
Texas Tech – Red Raiders lead overall series 28-23-3