Thursday, October 6, 2011

TCU to Big XII: Big XII's Shoots First Against Big East

The Big XII has invited TCU to join their conference and the school is reportedly ready to accept. That means that TCU, who is currently in the Mountain West Conference and were set to join the Big East conference in 2012, will be moving yet again.

It is huge for both TCU and the Big XII. For TCU, they still get to be in a BCS conference and one that looks like it should live on after all this craziness ends. They get to rejoin old Southwest Conference rivalries with Texas Tech, Texas and Baylor. Also, it would keep TCU from having to join a Big East conference that geographically could cripple other sports (especially basketball).

For the Big XII, they got their 10th member to replace Texas A&M ... who is leaving for the SEC next year. The league would still be stuck at nine if Missouri joins the SEC as well, but it would make the conference healthy enough to go after three more schools.

For the Big East ... well ... they are in deep trouble.

This is the second conference that has come calling for a Big East school. The ACC lured Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the Big East a month ago. UConn has all but fawned over joining the ACC as well and Rutgers could join them. West Virginia is on the short list for the SEC, not to mention the Big XII could come calling for them as well.

It could get worse. If Missouri indeed does leave for the SEC, the Big XII would want to add three more schools to their conference. BYU is one, but Louisville and West Virginia could be others (Cincinnati falls in there as well). That would all but kill the Big East as a football conference.

This is quite a move considering what has happened in the last several weeks.

In the Great Expansion Race, both the Big East and Big XII seemed to be on the last legs. Once the Pac-10-12-16 decided to stay put at 12 members, that kept the Big XII intact (for now). When both conferences were facing extinction, the two league got together and were talking about a "merger". By "merger", the stronger conference would gobble up the lesser one. Up until the Pac-12's decision, it was thought that Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas and Kansas State would join the Big East ... which TCU was set to be a member of. Now the Big XII is a bit stronger and they could come after two or three Big East schools to get to the XII in Big XII.

The fact that the Big XII went ahead and did this is both cold and a smart decision. This puts the ball back in the Big XII's court and makes it more likely the conference will survive this mess. It pretty much writes the obituary for the Big East as well.

The Big East, right now, is left with UConn, Rutgers, West Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida. Pittsburgh, Syracuse and TCU have left. UConn and Rutgers would love to leave to join the ACC (UConn is more likely to be invited). West Virginia would leave in a heartbeat for the SEC or Big XII. Louisville will also most likely be asked to leave for the Big XII.

While the Big East could conceivably rebuild around Cincinnati, South Florida, Villanova (who is thinking about stepping up to FBS status) and any other schools that stick around, their status as a BCS conference would probably be over. They'd have to raid Conference USA, MAC and/or the Sun Belt to even form a league. And adding East Carolina, Memphis and Marshall just doesn't bring sexy back to the conference. The reality could be that ECU, Memphis and Marshall wouldn't be that interested in moving to a broken Big East even for the basketball prestige. You may just see Cincinnati and South Florida join the MAC or C-USA in football and stay in the Big East for basketball.

The fact that TCU bailed on the Big East without ever playing a game as a member of that conference says it all.

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