Note: I wrote this article back on October 1, but most of the points are still valid. Also click the video player to hear our Talk at Ten.
Two words in the title don't even make sense together (Texas and East) and quite frankly when I first read the TCU to Big East story in the New York Post I thought "no way, no how". In fact, I've seen the scenario discussed on the forums at Syracusefan.com but never gave it much thought. That was until, I read this article by Randy Galloway of the Fort-Worth Star Telegram. Galloway admits, that he too laughed at the possibility, but upon closer evaluation it could be a win-win for both sides. Some excellent points that Galloway makes are that TCU wants to be in an "automatic" BCS conference, The Mountain West (TCU's current conference) made a step towards that goal by adding Boise State for next year, but also took two steps back by losing Utah and BYU. The Big East, despite its worst football start in 15 years, still is a BCS conference unless it is raided, which is a whole 'nother matter. That's appealing to TCU. So is the money. According to Galloway's article TCU would make roughly $7 million dollars more per season if it were a Big East member, based mostly on the Big East's current TV deal. Ok, so it makes sense for Texas Christian University, what about the Big East? According to the Post article linked above, the Big East is looking at close to a dozen teams. Does TCU make the most sense geographically? Probably not. But it could offer the most. The Big East NEEDS to make some sort of move, because it's a foregone conclusion that the Big Ten and Pac Ten are not done expanding. As the Post reported in July, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany thinks the East Coast is extremely important. Go ahead, read his quotes in there. With that said, Big East teams will undoubtedly be targets in the next round of expansion. I'm thinking Rutgers and Syracuse are prime targets in this case.
So the Big East needs to do something that would not only help it survive through such an expansion, but also perhaps entice any targeted schools to stay. That's what makes TCU valuable. Sure, the past couple seasons of top ten finishes are great, but that's not entirely what's important. It's a historic team - look who played SU in the 1957 Cotton Bowl. If seeing is believing, click here.
I think what's most enticing to the Big East is the market TCU is in. Located in Fort Worth, Texas it's part of the Dallas-Fort Worth television market, which according to Nielsen is #5 in the nation! That would give the Big East four of the top five TV markets - New York #3, Chicago (DePaul, I know) #4, Philadelphia (Villanova, which could soon be a football and basketball member) and #5 Dallas. In this day and age when market size and how many homes your school reaches are ultra-important, it almost seems like TCU is a no-brainer. But now to address what you've surely been wondering since this article started, how the heck does a team from Texas fit in the Big East geographically? My answer, I guess, is just how the Dallas Cowboys fit in the NFC East with the Washington Redskins, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles. Travel isn't what it was even 25 years ago, it's cheaper and quicker than ever. I understand most teams have their own travel plans, but in my amateur, quick check of Expedia, from Syracuse to Dallas (projected date of the first weekend in November) was $178 per flight. Syracuse to Louisville on the same date is roughly $250. Clearly the Texas trip isn't as daunting as it used to be, unless you're the superfan who wants to drive to all road games.
Speaking of road games, look at teams in the Big East this year. Syracuse traveled to Seattle, Pittsburgh flew to Utah, Cincinnati went to Fresno, West Virginia headed to LSU, Louisville traveled to Oregon State, to name a few. How the Big East teams fared in those games is another matter. The point is, the one trip to Texas won't be as daunting for Big East schools, and if TCU can handle the extra travel costs, which seems likely with the extra money they'd make, then why not? Clearly, the conference expansion carousel is not done, not by a long shot, but I love this as a proactive move by the Big East. Second to luring another BCS team like Penn State or Maryland, this could be one of the best moves to make. Clearly football talent wise it is. It would give the Big East a foothold in Texas and that puts the conference at 9 football schools and 17 all-sport schools, so certainly some more schools could be invited to even things out. This move, unlike just adding Villanova, adds something extremely positive to the football side of things. What will happen? nobody knows, but I'll say this, unlike 2003, the Big East is being proactive instead of reactive, and that HAS to be good for the future of the conference.