Big East Heads West
With today’s announcement that TCU will be joining the Big ‘East’ in 2012, it helps solve two major problems prevailing in College Football. The first being the relative weakness of the Big East as a football conference. Sure some years they have 2-3 schools that can play with anyone, but years like this when they all beat up on each other and no one is a Top 25 team are hard to watch (and defend).
Now by adding TCU, the Big East has a legit National Title contender from the last few years. Also, plaguing college football was the playoff vs. BCS debate, where non-AQ schools like TCU have about a zero % chance of getting to a title game. Now with the Horned Frogs going to an automatic qualifying conference like the Big East, they don’t have to wait for a playoff system to get their fair shot. For those two reasons alone this is a win-win situation, but this move was much bigger than appeasing the BCS gods.
One way or another, the Big East needed to expand its football presence and looked to get up to that 10 team plateau that really adds legitimacy. There is no doubt the Big East was a basketball powerhouse, but their football presence was lacking. And football is where the biggest money is, so it affected them for all sports as well. Now by adding two more teams (likely Villanova moving up from FCS play) they added two more markets. By expanding out west into a Texas market (especially the Fort Worth/Dallas market), the Big East now can gain more lucrative TV deals.
Another area where it helps the Big East schools is recruiting. The three best recruiting states are California, Texas and Florida. Now the Big East schools do land a fair share of Florida products, but have little presence in Texas and California. That should now begin to change with the addition of TCU. Just as having a Florida school (first Miami and now South Florida) helps high school players become more familiar with the other schools in the conference. Adding TCU will help the Big East recruit more players from Texas and other western states.
The Horned Frogs also benefit in both TV revenue and recruiting. Not only does joining a big conference allow for big TV revenues, but now the Big East has a presence in Texas, Florida, New England, New Jersey/New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, not to mention Kentucky and West Virginia as well. That is a power house that you’d expect from an AQ football conference and should help allow them to invest heavier in recruiting to increase their talent level. Not only does the extra money help TCU (and the rest of the Big East) recruit, but by joining a big conference it helps give the Horned Frogs credibility with more 4 or 5 star recruits. And just as the TCU addition helps open up Texas and the West to the Big East, TCU now has a presence to go after Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Jersey recruits as well.
I think this a great marriage for both the Big East and TCU, with the only loser being the whole BCS vs. playoff debate. With now Utah and TCU leaving for major conferences, only Boise State and Nevada (and not even every year) can make a case for being unfairly treated by the BCS system. I really hope this doesn’t table the debate too much, though I’d guess it pushes it back at least another 2-3 years. Even if there is eventually a playoff system (and I think their will be), TCU will be in a better position going forward. Especially in terms of money and recruiting, to field a competitive team to handle a Championship run.