TCU Expected To Join Big 12 Conference In July; Big East Pursues Replacements
TCU "expects to join the Big 12 Conference in July" after the Big 12's BOD Thursday "invited Horned Frogs to join the conference," according to school sources cited by Stefan Stevenson of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. TCU AD Chris Del Conte Thursday "called an emergency meeting of the athletic department," and a source said that the TCU Board of Trustees is "scheduled to meet in a few days, perhaps as early as" Friday. School sources said that an "official announcement could come as early as this weekend." A source confirmed that TCU's revenue sharing "will be phased in over a few years." TCU last November announced it was moving to the Big East, and the school "will have to pay the Big East a $5 million fee to back out of its commitment." However, since TCU "is not a full-fledged member, the league's binding 27-month hold does not apply" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/7). In Dallas, Chuck Carlton reports while TCU is a private school with a "much smaller fan base than Texas A&M," which is leaving for the SEC next year, sources indicated that the Big 12 "has been assured its pending 13-year, $1.17 billion cable deal with Fox Sports would not be reduced." If that stands, TCU "could eventually be looking at a phased-in $18 million annually from the conference, significantly more than the Mountain West or Big East." Meanwhile, the school "should complete a $143 million renovation of Amon Carter Stadium in time for its Big 12 debut." The capacity of the stadium "will be slightly less than 50,000" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/7).
BIG ISSUES FOR BIG EAST: In N.Y., Pete Thamel writes TCU "delivered a crushing blow to the Big East Conference when news of its imminent departure to the Big 12 emerged Thursday." TCU's decision "does not mean the death of Big East football, but there are a lot of possibilities that make its survival tenuous." The conference is now "down to six football programs" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/7). USA TODAY's Jack Carey notes the Big East "again appears to have a crisis on its hands." Even as the Big East "pursues replacements, with Navy, Central Florida, East Carolina and Temple among the speculated candidates, there is no guarantee that there won't be further withdrawals." UConn and Rutgers officials have said that they are "weighing options." Meanwhile, two Big 12 sources said that Louisville was the "second-highest-rated expansion target behind TCU" (USA TODAY, 10/7). ESPN’s Pat Forde said TCU's defection “probably hit the Big East awfully hard in terms of their long-term viability.” Forde: “The Big East is taking on water awfully fast and as much as they can bail it out it might not be enough” ("College Football Live," ESPN, 10/6). In DC, Liz Clarke notes for Big East Commissioner John Marinatto, the "challenge of 'righting the ship' is more complicated than simply replacing the three schools the conference has lost in the last three weeks." If the Big East can keep Louisville and West Virginia and "add at least two new football-playing schools, the league can likely weather the losses of TCU, Syracuse and Pitt" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/7).
RIGHT MOVE FOR TCU? In Ft. Worth, Randy Galloway writes under the header, "What's Not To Like About TCU In Big 12?" Galloway: "The Big 12 Conference wanted TCU because the Big 12 actually needed TCU to help firm up its shaky foundation." No matter "what is considered a negative about the Big 12, it sure beats that Big East ship the Frogs had recently boarded." TCU officials "had to jump that sinking ship, and in doing so do not face a dishonorable discharge" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/7). However, also in Ft. Worth. Gil LeBreton writes under the header, "TCU Better Off Sticking With Big East." Nebraska, Colorado and A&M "have all either left or plan to leave" the Big 12, and Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Missouri "have expressed their desires, at times, to also do so." LeBreton: "Why does TCU want 'in' to a league where six other schools wanted 'out?' In all six cases, the reported reasons for defecting had nothing to do with things that happened on the football field" (FT. WORTH-STAR TELEGRAM, 10/7). In Dallas, Tim Cowlishaw writes A&M for TCU "is not close to an even trade in terms of fans base and, undoubtedly, the folks at Fox who are slated to pour more than $1 billion into the conference's revenues will seek and adjustment to that effect" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/7).
DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS: SMU AD Steve Orsini said the schools' options for landing in a BCS conference "are still in play." A source said that the Big 12 is "not a likely option because the league is not expected to add additional Texas schools in any future expansion." Still, Orsini "wouldn't rule it out" (DALLASNEWS.com, 10/6). Meanwhile, Texas state Rep. Bill Callegari Thursday said that he hopes the Big 12 will consider the Univ. of Houston "for membership, as suggested by 31 other Houston-area legislators last month." The school last year "unveiled plans for a $160 million upgrade for its athletic facilities: a $120 million replacement for Robertson Stadium and a $40 million renovation for Hofheinz Pavilion." Former UH Board of Regents Chair Welcome Wilson Sr. said that the school's alumni, boosters and fundraisers "stand ready to meet the Big 12's requirements for new members" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/7). In Houston, Sam Khan Jr. notes, "There could be many reasons why TCU received an invite from the Big 12 on Thursday and not UH. One that can't be ignored is that TCU had a long head start on UH when it comes to progress in athletics" (CHRON.com, 10/7).