The rumors are flying, fueled by a New York Post report.
The Big East is looking at Texas Christian University (TCU) for possible expansion.
The bigger question is probably going to be whether or not TCU would consider the Big East.
The first issue that comes to mind for just about everyone is the geography issue.
Let me put that to rest. Look at a map of the United States. Look for Fort Worth, Texas.
Place your finger over Fort Worth, and then immediately drag your finger to Syracuse, N.Y. Then do the same to Tampa, Florida.
Now take your finger, once again placing it over Fort Worth and drag it all the way out to Boise, Idaho. Go back and do the same thing to Fresno, Calif.… then Reno, Nev.… then San Diego, Calif.… then Laramie, Wyo.
Now tell me exactly how the Mountain West Conference (MWC) is such a better geographic fit for TCU, because those either will be or have already been the locations the Horned Frogs will be traveling to on a regular basis.
Still not convinced? Take a look at this map featuring FBS school locations. Now Boise may be a more beautiful location to fly into than Syracuse, but it is not any closer.
The bottom line is that the travel requirements to Big East venues from the Dallas-Fort Worth area are not any more difficult or lengthy than what Texas Christian already faces.
Now that we have shown travel plans are not the issue some believe they could be, let us discuss what makes the Big East appealing for TCU and what makes TCU appealing for the Big East.
For starters, half of the Big East is made up of private religious institutions, as is TCU. Now there may be some religious differences to overcome, but they are all Christian-based schools, and surely they can find a way to get along if getting more money is involved, right?
As far as the football participating members of the Big East, they have cried out for a ninth football member for years, so they are definitely going to be on board.
And despite what some may think, bringing in Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) member Villanova is not going to solve the conference's real problems.
Couple the religious association with telling Big East football coaches that they can now effectively add Texas to their recruiting footprint, and you may have to hire bodyguards for TCU School Chancellor Victor J. Boschini to keep him from being bludgeoned to death from all the "welcome aboard" pats on the back.
And too, one should not discount the appeal of bringing the TCU brand to larger eastern markets. As a small school, TCU could do well among the many other small schools in large markets that the Big East offers.
Likewise, they could stand to benefit from being associated with the larger football member schools of the conference where the average student enrollment is over 32,000.
The main attractive pitch for TCU, however, is obviously the automatic bid into the BCS, which the Big East has and the Mountain West (the Horned Frogs current home) does not.
Debate the merits of that all you like, but facts are facts, and despite the horrible showing the Big East is putting forth this season thus far, they ended last season with nearly half of their conference ranked in the top 25.
Conference strength is cyclical. For several years pundits have questioned the strength of the Big Ten, but with Michigan on the rise coupled with Iowa’s resurgence and the impending addition of Nebraska, the conference is no longer a one-horse show for Buckeye fans.
If the Big East is serious about creating its own cable network, moving into Texas is a good step toward ensuring future success. But make no mistake, adding TCU is not the same as adding the University of Texas.
They do not call it the Lone Star State for nothing, and the Longhorns are the state's "Lone Star" as far as college football is concerned.
So to make it work and ensure market presence gets noticed in Texas, the conference should probably consider adding an additional school from the land of the Longhorns to partner with the Horned Frogs.
The best bet for a partner school for Texas Christian is probably the University of Houston. Although the discussion here centers around Texas Christian University, do not count out Houston as a target as well.
West Virginia University Athletic Director Oliver Luck has strong ties to Houston, and with West Virginia University being a key member of the Big East, you can bet he will be contacted by prominent Houston Cougar alumni, if he has not been already.
If you still think the idea of the Big East moving westward is crazy, just remember all the rumors floating around that the Big East was lying in wait to scoop up leftover Big 12 members if the conference had collapsed after a theoretical raid of its main players by the Pac-10 Conference.
One last thing to ponder is whether the Big East would look to pilfer schools from other conferences for the sole benefit of enhancing its own profile.
Unlike when the Atlantic Coast Conference invited three Big East schools to join in 2003, and the Big East had to react to survive, this would be an act of aggression by the Big East, as opposed to an act of response to aggression.
Some might fear the conference would have a problem with that that could possibly impede their intentions of inviting a school such as TCU to leave the Mountain West Conference for a new home anchored in the east.
Rest assured, after the continued jabs in the media by Mountain West Conference administrators and coaches aimed at the Big East, there is no love lost between the two conferences, and weakening the MWC for its own personal gain is not something Big East President John Marinatto will have a problem with, although I am sure due process will be followed by all parties involved.
With that said, will it happen? Will TCU (and possibly Houston) end up in the Big East?
It is tough to say for sure, based on nothing more than rumors, but TCU traveling to Providence, R.I., makes as much sense as TCU traveling to Boise, Idaho… geographically speaking of course.