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Post Thumbs up on TCU’s move

Tuesday November 30, 2010

Everyone seems to win with TCU’s new arrangement.

  • TCU gets what they want: access to the process. That means a better class of opponent, higher visibility, better TV coverage (especially in key eastern markets), and more revenue with which to build the program. Membership is also instant additional credibility on the recruiting trail in a talent-rich part of the country.
  • The Big East gets to fend off questions about their claim to AQ status. TCU might not even win the conference in coming years, but their staying power as a strong program will buoy the rest of the league. The conference will also gain penetration into the competitive DFW media market. The Big 12 will still be the dominant player in town of course, but the rest of the Big East should be able to steal a prospect or two out of the vast recruiting territory in this new market.
  • Even members of other AQ conferences should be happy: TCU will be removed from the pool of possible BCS crashers.

Geography is a big part of this story. It shouldn’t be. Forth Worth is only about 300 miles farther from Morgantown, WVa. than Tampa is, the home of current Big East member South Florida. Miami used to be a Big East member, and that’s only about 100 miles closer to Morgantown than Forth Worth is. ACC members Boston College and Miami are separated by over 1,500 miles. That’s about the distance from TCU to Syracuse. Those of us in the East and SEC territory tend to think of conference games in terms of day trips or short weekend treks. TCU’s road destinations this year included Fort Collins, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, and Albuquerque. Albuquerque – at over a 10-hour drive – was the closest of those road trips. For perspective, every SEC school but Arkansas is a shorter drive from Athens than TCU’s shortest road trip of 2009.

Every other Mountain West school is at least a 12-hour drive from Fort Worth. TCU might not be in the Big East’s neighborhood, but the Horned Frogs are already used to a bit of travel. Additionally, the proximity of most Big East schools (except West Virginia) to major airports with frequent flights to and from DFW could make the occasional road trip a reasonable possibility for fans. Again, though, this isn’t the SEC. The number of fans who travel to watch Big East football just doesn’t compare. From a football perspective, it’s much more about access and markets than it is about filling seats. As college football continues to have more of a national outlook, moves like this will feel much more normal.

In our football-centric world, the basketball angle is getting secondary attention. Dashiell Bennett does a good job of illustrating why a sport at which the Horned Frogs are much worse is actually a stronger financial incentive for this move than the payoff from football. TCU can get BCS money whether or not they’re part of a BCS conference – they’ll do so this year. But their new conference receives over 5 times as much revenue from the NCAA Tournament as the Mountain West does, so TCU should expect a much bigger kick from the basketball side of things.

I’m just looking forward to seeing the 17-team Big East Tournament bracket. They might have to start that thing in mid-February.

One Response to 'Thumbs up on TCU’s move'

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  • Is there a reason(s) why Miami is no longer in the Big East? And who knew what conference South Florida played in, or for that matter what schools make up the conference? And how many of those schools have been in the BCS hunt in recent years? Was TCU an original member of the SWC? Did their leaving have anything to do with them not being allowed back into the Big 12? Let’s us remember this was a program that not too long ago was below “0”. I’d have to look at their roster to see where they recruit from. Texas is a big football state whose high school coaches are closely aligned with area colleges. Good luck TCU, you may need more than frequent travel miles, a travel agent, a map, and a lesson in geography.