TCU to Join Big 12
Various reports are claiming that the Big 12 has agreed to invite TCU to be it’s 10th member, a replacement for Texas A&M. The invitation is expected to also mean Missouri will be remaining in the Big 12, as the SEC does not have unanimous support to invite Missouri to be the 14th member. For Missouri, remaining in the Big 12 would mean likely remaining in the conference for 6-13 years. The Big 12 is reworking their Tier 1 TV contract to match the timeframe of the Tier 2 contract. The “grants waiver” by all schools will be expected for all members, meaning if a school leaves the conference, the Big 12 would retain their TV rights for the period of the waiver timeline. To put it in perspective, the amount would dwarf the traditional “exit fees”. So if a school were making $15 million per year and left in 2014, the grants waiver would still have 10 years left on it…meaning the school would forfeit $15 million for 10 years or $150 million.
As for TCU, a Big 12 invitation would be a dream cone true. Left out of the Big 12 when the Big 8 and SWC merged two decades ago, TCU has had more movement than any school in Division 1:
Southwest Conference > WAC > CUSA > MWC > agreed to move to Big East (BCS conference) > Big 12 (as they never participated in the Big East, the school would be free to move without the 27 month waiting period that current Big East members must face).
Many had thought the Big 12 would avoid adding another Texas school, due to the ill-will perceived coming out of University of Texas, as well as the Texas A&M departure.
However, TCU does bring a more successful football program than Texas A&M at this time, a program better than most of the available candidates.
While many feel that adding TCU does little for adding new TV markets to the conference, since Texas dominates most of the cities in the state, there is another factor to consider: alumni. With TCU in the Big 12, it gives all the alumni from Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Kansas and Kansas St. that live in Dallas (one of the cities with the most Big 12 school alumni) more opportunities to support Big 12 athletics.
Another important note is that if TCU joins for #10, it is expected that the Big 12 will remain at 10. This would exclude schools like BYU, Louisville and WVU. However, with Missouri remaining, the Big 12 would be wise to consider expansion to 12 with Louisville and WVU, as Missouri would be a natural bridge to both states. An eastern expansion would give the conference enough members for a championship game, but also increase the conferences exposure in the eastern markets, with some residual penetration into the now weakened northeast media markets now split between the Big Ten (Penn St.), ACC (Boston College, Syracuse, Pitt) and Big East (WVU, Uconn, Rutgers).
As for the Big East, despite any spin, the loss of TCU would be a serious blow. TCU was added as a means to boost the football performance. For the majority of the BCS bids that the Big East has had, the Big East had the lowest BCS ranking of the AQ bids. At times, the Big East BCS representative reanked in the 25-32 spot and many question why the Big East had an AQ while schools like TCU, Boise St., Utah and others were at times left out of the BCS despite a top 10 ranking.
The Big East would then be down to 6 members: UConn, Rutgers, WVU, Louisville, Cincinnati and USF. The conference planned to regroup from 7 with the addition of 2-3 schools. Now they will be looking to add 3-4. The candidate pool is far from attractive in regards to a BCS bid. Air Force will likely pass at this point, as would Navy for football only…unless the Big East comes up with a solid plan and all remaining schools remain. Uconn has it’s eyes set on the ACC, hoping the conference can get Notre Dame to join and Uconn for #16. Uconn and Rutgers remain options for the ACC should they expand to 16.
If the big 12 stops at 10, it means that the Big East 6 will likely remain and there is enough political cache to retain the BCS bid. But if Louisville and WVU were to leave (Big 12/SEC), that might change. All of a sudden, schools like SMU, Houston, Memphis, ECU, Temple, Villanova, UMass, etc aren’t going to be enough to add to football prestige.