It's official the TCU Horned Frogs are headed to the Big 12 Conference. What does it all mean now?
Well there are always pros and cons to every decision, and Joe Yeager and John Baucum weigh out those as TCU has accepted the invitation to the Big 12 Conference.
Pros: If we assume Texas Tech has no other automatic qualifier option than the Big 12, it only makes sense to hope that the conference becomes as strong as it can be. The last thing Red Raider fans want to see is Tech's only home collapse and leave the Red Raiders without shelter. With that thought in mind, the acquisition of TCU is a good thing for Tech football.
For the first time in conference history, the Big 12 was the predator rather than the prey. The conference was the pillager rather than the pillagee. And given the pickings that were available, TCU is a worthy addition. Like it or not, the Horned Frogs have been one of the nation's premier football programs over the last decade. With TCU in the fold, the Big 12's reputation as a premiere football conference is very much intact. And a strong, competitive, exciting football conference makes big money.
Cons: There are no consequential cons.
Some people have expressed fear that the Red Raiders will lose Dallas/Ft. Worth recruits to TCU. I doubt this will happen.
The Horned Frogs, even in those rare best of times, have never been a recruiting dynamo. And joining the Big 12 will not change that. Indeed, TCU will lose considerably more games in the Big 12 than they lost in the Mountain West, which will dispel the mystique that has built up around the program. A 13-0 season generates headlines and draws the attention of recruits. But 9-4 and 8-5? Not so much.
Compound the above with the likelihood that new SEC program Texas A&M will likely turn more of its recruiting attention to the deep south and away from the Metroplex, and any recruiting gains made by the Horned Frogs should be negated by Aggie losses. Recruiting will be the least of Tech's worries. Beating TCU will be the issue.
So, TCU is finally joining a BCS conference. There are more than just a few pros and cons, both for the conference as a whole and for Texas Tech individually. The immediate positive of this potential move is that Big 12 conference picks up a legitimate team to offset the loss of Texas A&M. Along with that, the nation will get to see if TCU can maintain its consistency. Without a doubt, it is much easier to run the table playing against such vaunted foes as Air Force, San Diego State, Wyoming, and Colorado State among others. TCU will now replace those teams with Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and the rest of the Big 12. Still, it's hard to completely discount TCU's two straight BCS games.
The puzzling part of this move centers around one of the main reasons for conference realignment—TV market expansion. To that end, TCU adds absolutely nothing to this conference as Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech all have large alumni bases in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. Additionally, TCU's fan support has been unsteady at best. A stadium expansion started immediately following the 2010 season and is scheduled to be completed in 2012. However, the Horned Frogs rarely sold out the football stadium at its listed capacity of 44,008.
For Texas Tech, the move hurts in-state recruiting as it allows another team access to Tech's superior conference affiliation and the recruiting advantages that are inherent with that. Add the potential damage of more SEC schools venturing into Texas as a result of A&M's departure, and suddenly the Lone Star State's proliferation of talent could be stretched pretty thin. The one caveat to that is that Tommy Tuberville and his staff have proven to be superb recruiters.
For the health of the Big 12, this is a crucial move. Despite the recent pledges by conference schools to stick around, the conference's status among the nation's elite is tenuous at best. The national respect that TCU carries could put university presidents at ease with the current situation. Missouri's flirtation with the SEC could add more intrigue as Commissioner Neinas and the member teams must decide how many teams would be optimal and additionally, what other institution is best suited to pursue. For now, the Big 12 is in the news for the right reason—being proactive in the realignment tug-of-war. Credit Chuck Neinas for that because it's something Dan Beebe never could figure out.