Big East Football 2012: TCU Departure Leaves Lingering 2012 Schedule Issues

Michael FelderNational CFB Lead WriterMarch 26, 2012

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 03:  Munchie Legaux #4 of the Cincinnati Bearcats runs from Byron Jones #16 of the Connecticut Huskies on December 3, 2011 at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bearcats defeated the Connecticut Huskies 35-27. (Photo by Tyler Barrick/Getty Images)
Tyler Barrick/Getty Images

Texas Christian University has never played in the Big East, but that hasn't stopped the Horned Frogs from sending ripples through the league's make-up in the last year or so.

First, TCU was in the league then, with Texas A&M and Mizzou leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, and the Horned Frogs were out of the conference. Opting for the proximity and the money brought on by being in a conference with Oklahoma and Texas, TCU elected to join the Big 12 immediately.

Throw in West Virginia taking off for the Big 12, Temple being added to the league for 2012 and what the league essentially has done is remained at eight members for the 2012 campaign. While the future looks a bit brighter for schedule makers with Houston, SMU, UCF, Memphis, Boise State and San Diego State joining in 2013, 2012 became a bit problematic.

Case and point, Cincinnati.

The Bearcats have finally filled out their 2012 schedule, and it is not nearly as appetizing as the folks in Cincy would have liked. Instead of TCU coming to town in October, the Bearcats resorted to adding Fordham to their slate. Conference realignment claims yet another decent regular season matchup.

Ordinarily we have seen the out of conference games fall by the wayside and long-time rivalries disappear with realignment. However, the Big East is a case where in-conference games come at a premium, and losing those eight games made things mighty difficult.

Cincinnati already had FCS-Delaware State on their schedule for mid-September. This addition of Fordham not only erodes its strength of schedule but also makes its other FBS games mean that much more. The Bearcats must hit the seven-win mark to get to bowl eligibility. Zach Collaros is gone, and that means Munchie Legaux will be in the lead to push for those wins.

The Big East is a league that will be in flux until 2014 rolls around; they have lost not only TCU and West Virginia but also Pitt and Syracuse. Adding the six schools mentioned above, plus Navy in 2015, gets the league some stability, but for now the Bearcats are another loser in expansion as they could not fill that date with a quality opponent.