TCU Accepts Invitation To Join Big East: How Will They Fare?

Tyler WardAnalyst INovember 30, 2010

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - NOVEMBER 27: TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Andy Dalton #14, center Jake Kirkpatrick #76 and wide receiver Alonzo Adams #81 celebrate their 66-17 win over the University of New Mexico Lobos on November 27, 2010 at University Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Photo by Eric Draper/Getty Images)
Eric Draper/Getty Images

On Monday, ESPN announced that Texas Christian University had accepted the invitation to join the Big East conference, starting on July 1, 2012. It will spread across all sports, most notably football, where TCU has had a somewhat easy schedule the last few seasons.

One of the main reasons involved in the decision was the fact that the Big East conference winner automatically receives a bid in one of the five major bowl games. It is a great reward for any school and now TCU gets to play with the big boys.

TCU will now become the ninth Big East football team and the conference has also extended an offer to Villanova to become the tenth member.

TCU currently plays in the Mountain West Conference, which does not have an automatic bid in a major bowl game. As fellow non-major conference powerhouse Boise State enters the Mountain West Conference, TCU and Utah are leaving—so with that being said, could we see Boise State leave the conference as well?

It seems doubtful that Boise State will leave the conference so soon, but there is still the chance that the school could pay a fine and leave the conference, if they choose to do so.

It could very well happen as Boise State will face even weaker opponents and still be heavily criticized if they go undefeated again and win the conference. If they think they don’t get enough attention now, then it will get even worse once they successfully enter the re-formed Mountain West.

As far as TCU is concerned, leaving the conference, however, doesn’t come at a price, which is somewhat of a surprise. TCU will not have to pay an exit fee for leaving the league under conference bylaws.

The same applied for Utah (Pac-12) and BYU (independent in football), as they have now switched conferences. Utah and BYU, both former members of the MWC, notified the conference earlier this year that they were leaving after the 2011 season.

All TCU had to do was notify the conference by September 1 of their decision. Since they did not do it, TCU will now have to leave on July 1, 2012—the same time Nevada and Fresno State enter the Mountain West Conference from the WAC.

The Big East will now be TCU’s fourth conference since the Southwest Conference fell apart after the 1995 football season. At the time, the Big 12 decided not to extend an offer to TCU, so they became the only Texas school not to be apart of the conference.

TCU was in the WAC from 1996 to 2000 and then moved to Conference USA for the next four seasons. They joined the Mountain West Conference in 2005 and will now join the Big East Conference, starting in 2012.

TCU is currently third in the BCS polls and will head to at least the Rose Bowl. If Auburn or Oregon slip up in the following weeks, we could see TCU in the national championship game.

With Boise State’s loss to Nevada last weekend, TCU is now headed to a big BCS game. If the Broncos didn’t lose, TCU may not have gone to one of the bigger bowl games. If Boise State remained undefeated, there was a very strong possibility that they could have passed TCU in the polls and stolen their spot in a BCS bowl game.

While playing in the Mountain West, TCU’s conference opponents included Air Force, Brigham Young, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Utah, and Wyoming.

Now that they are entering the Big East, TCU will now be playing against Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Florida, Syracuse, West Virginia, and possibly Villanova if they accept the invitation.

Switching conferences is clearly an upgrade for TCU and it definitely betters the college football program. No offense to the Mountain West, but it is one of the weaker conferences, so it has been easy for TCU to go undefeated and play mildly well.

They will now be facing tougher opponents and now, we can see what the school is really all about in terms of college football.

Since they will now be a part of the Big East, their schedule will be much tougher than when they played in the Mountain West. When they start playing in 2012, I can see them struggling, but will still be one of the top teams in the conference. They will more than likely be a middle-of-the-pack team, but in my opinion, they are still better than Cincinnati, Rutgers, South Florida, Louisville, Syracuse and Villanova (if they accept).

Since anything can happen in college football, there will be some games against “tougher” teams where they somehow squeeze out a win—for instance, Pittsburgh, Connecticut and West Virginia. It will definitely be a test for TCU, but they will still be able to make a splash in the conference and could challenge teams for the Big East title.

Over the past three seasons, the Horned Frogs have a 34-2 regular season record and have been one of the top teams in the NCAA since 2008. TCU has also won 25 straight regular season games and have also won 38 of their past 41 games overall – they lost in the Fiesta Bowl last season against Boise State and lost games at Utah and Oklahoma.

Seeing them in the Big East has come as quite a surprise, especially since TCU resides in Texas, a state that holds no schools in the Big East. The move also benefits TCU in the fact that the Big East has nine schools in the top 35 largest markets in the United States and will be adding the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the fifth largest media market.

Personally, I love the move for TCU. I’ve always liked it when teams switch conferences, as it gives people much to talk about. It’s also great to see TCU be able to show exactly what they’re made of and it gives them a much better look to the media and the polls.

Not only does it affect the school, it also affects the players. While playing in the Mountain West, it is hard for scouts to grade players because they simply play weaker opponents. Now that they will be entering the Big East, they will be playing tougher schools, so players may be able to get drafted higher, based on the tough schedule.

It will also help the recruiting process because if the Frogs play well in a tougher conference, it will draw more attention to the school and hopefully, recruits will want to go play for the school. If undefeated in a poor conference isn’t enough, it will surely help them if they win in the Big East.

As TCU enters the Big East for the 2012 campaign, I’m going to go ahead and predict that the Horned Frogs will win eight games in their first season with the new alignment. They will definitely not go undefeated, but they will earn a shot to be the Big East champions.

TCU will now be starting a new era when they start playing in the 2012 season and it is perhaps the best idea the school has ever had.