And so, the love triangle between the Big East, the Big 12 and Texas Christian University is coming to a head.
With the landscape of college football shifting beneath their feet, officials at TCU are now considering to renege on their commitment to the Big East – a college football conference struggling to survive – for the bigger-name, and better proximity, Big 12 conference. Big 12 officials, earlier today, voted to invite the Horned Frogs into the fold starting next year.
The Big East was counting on TCU to come into their conference in 2012, having already lost schools like Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC last month. With the news that the Horned Frogs may very well snub the Big East, the conference no longer has much to stand on.
That’s not to say that the Big 12 isn’t hurting, themselves. After all, with the Texas-Oklahoma rivalry as its centerpiece, and the recent launch of the Longhorn Network, other Big 12 schools feel they are being undervalued – so much so, that Texas A&M recently made a move to join the SEC, pursuing more exposure, more prominence, and ultimately, more money. Missouri is also reportedly in talks to leave the conference.
Coincidentally, it was reported earlier this year that Texas and Oklahoma were among four Big 12 schools that were targeted to relocate into a Pac-16 superconference, leaving the Big 12 completely in the lurch. As the rumors continue to swirl, positing that Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State are still in talks to join the current Pac-12, the remaining schools are currently scrambling to figure out whether or not the conference can stay intact.
In any case, the whole situation leaves TCU at a rather awkward position. The whole point of moving to either the Big East or the Big 12 was to drop their “big fish in a mid-major pond” status, and join the major ranks. This was supposed to give them a shot at a BCS Bowl every year, without the muss-and-fuss of being downgraded with the “Little Sisters of the Poor” argument. But, with the prospect of both the Big East and Big 12 potentially crumbling before they even got there, it leaves TCU in the same – if not a worse – situation than they were in the Mountain West.
Ironically enough, the moves that TCU is currently making in order to play in the big leagues may have triggered a chain reaction that may find itself playing for the Big 12 AND Big East, in an amalgamated superconference of its own, in order to stay relevant in big-time college athletics. Case in point, there have been rumors that, if the superconference model continues to take shape – with conferences like the Pac 16, the SEC, the ACC, the Big 10 hosting more than 14 schools apiece – the remnants of the pilfered Big 12 and Big East conferences may be forced to join forces in order to survive in the NCAA landscape. In fact, talks had surface only weeks ago that this could be a very real possibility, should the event of the four major Big 12 schools heading west actually come to fruition.
No matter what happens, TCU will continue to propel themselves into the forefront of college sports. In what capacity, however, remains to be seen. And, serendipitously enough, their presence – as an inconsequential school only years ago – will affect the entire college sports world.