Fort Worth, Texas Starting in the fall of 2012, the road to the Big East championship in football will go through Fort Worth ... where the West begins?
We are used to strange geographical alignments in college sports by now. Teams don’t really have to be along the Atlantic Coast to play in the ACC. Colorado and Utah don’t exactly hug the Pacific Ocean, but they will participate in the Pac-12 next year.
(Why didn’t they call it the 12-Pac? Has such a perfect sound to it for college kids ...)
But TCU in the Big East is going to feel odd for a while. We know the Frogs have been flirting with other conferences. Heck, they leave leagues at the rate of once every four years.
I mean, haven’t the Frogs played in the SWC and the WAC and Conference USA and the Mountain West in the last 15 years?
But usually when a school makes a major change like the one TCU announced Monday, it can at least try to sell the idea that it’s good for all the sports at the school.
This one seems strictly designed for men’s football.
We know that TCU is no powerhouse in men’s basketball. It’s going to play in the Big East with UConn and Louisville and Syracuse and Pitt and the rest of those big boys? Good luck.
As for women’s sports and the smaller men’s sports, the travel through the Big East would seem to be prohibitive, although there was obviously some very difficult travel in the Mountain West as well.
But I think without question this is being done strictly for the opportunity to pursue an automatic BCS bid, which hasn’t really been a problem for TCU lately, anyway. The Frogs are going to the Rose Bowl this year. Outside of playing in the BCS national championship game, the stage doesn’t get any bigger than the Rose Bowl.
I realize that Frogs fans believe their team is just as deserving of that national championship game as Oregon or Auburn. I get that. But this move doesn’t get rid of the possibility of being left out of the title game in the future.
If everything were the same with Oregon and Auburn this season and TCU were just finishing an unbeaten run against the likes of Rutgers and Cincinnati and their new Big East foes, wouldn’t the Frogs still be, in all likelihood, No. 3 behind the Ducks and Tigers?
I would think so.
However, what this move does is offer TCU a little protection. It can lose games and still get to BCS bowls and get those big paychecks. UConn lost four games this season and could be BCS-bound.
The Frogs saw what just happened to Boise State. You play in a smaller conference without the automatic bid and you lose — even to a good ranked team like Nevada — and you can fall off the table in the rankings.
TCU can lose one, maybe two games a year in the Big East and still find itself playing in what we used to call New Year’s Day bowls.
Certainly it’s going to create new attention for TCU, but I’m not sure it’s exactly what the school administrators think it will be. The idea of “now everyone in the east will see us” — well, not really. Big East football isn’t generating much attention anywhere these days.
Cincinnati got the automatic bid a year ago (only to get smoked by Florida in the bowl), and UConn is getting it this year. Frankly, it’s not much of a football conference, but it does have the BCS automatic bid at least through 2014.
Since TCU struggled to gain much attention playing lesser foes from out west, it makes sense to try some new rivals from the east. It will be different. It will be fun.
It’s not very geographically correct, but then Louisville, Ky., isn’t exactly in the heart of the East Coast, either.