The TCU faithful cheered ecstatically last November as the athletics department announced the conference move to the Big East Conference.
Now, after Thursday’s news that an invite to the Big 12 may be in hand, these same fans should be cheering even louder.
While fans will recognize why on the surface, the obvious still must be stated: the Big 12 comes with bigger and better benefits than a move to the Big East.
One of those benefits is obviously the increased competition.
By joining the Big 12, almost every old Southwest Conference rival is back on TCU’s regular season schedule. Instead of obscure teams like University of South Florida and Rutgers University, who have no history with the Horned Frogs, TCU will get to take on famed rivals, such as Baylor, Texas Tech and Texas on a yearly basis. With these marquee games coming in on a weekly basis, expect Amon Carter Stadium to be sold out every home game.
Gone will be the days of playing cupcakes like UNLV and the Colorado State on a regular basis. Gone will be the days of begging fans to show up for a matchup against Wyoming or New Mexico.
Instead of seeing only the diehard fans and a handful of the season ticket holders, every fan, casual and serious, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area will swarm to the newly renovated ‘Camden Yards’ of college football.
Even if the game is on the road, the Big 12 is localized enough for TCU that Horned Frog fans can easily make the drive to Norman, Waco, Stillwater, Austin or wherever else to watch some excellent conference play.
Compare all these factors to TCU’s other possible conference, the Big East. With Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference and University of Connecticut and Rutgers supposedly looking at leaving the conference, who does this leave for Big East competition? Well, almost nobody.
Even if the conference does expand, there’s no way any fan can defend the notion that East Carolina University or any of the military academies will build competition in that conference. It’s simply not possible.
These schools provide little program prestige, they’re thousands of miles away, and they have no history with TCU. Unlike competition in the Big 12, opponents in the Big East bring nothing to the table.
Another benefit the Big 12 gives TCU is a better spot of national recognition and power.
TCU will no longer be playing the “Little Sisters of the Poor.” They won’t be playing in the “Big Least,” as some critics like to call the Big East. Instead, they will play in a widely-recognized conference against Bowl Championship Series titans day in and day out.
Remember when Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville infamously explained why the Red Raiders backed out of playing against TCU earlier this year? Or how fans reacted when they found out the said “TCU isn’t the type of team that we want to play right now?"
In the Big 12, that excuse will be rendered void and useless. TCU will play BCS-quality talent on a weekly basis and will definitively prove to the nation that the Horned Frogs are a capable competitor.
If all this wasn’t good enough, the last major benefit that comes from moving to the Big 12 is a financial one. Revenue sharing in the Big 12 is far better than the Big East.
Under the current revenue sharing plan, each school will get $18-20 million each year from the Big 12 television contracts. TCU will be fully phased into this plan in two to three years and will be making far more than what they could in the Big East.
As of now, the Big East has no set television contract. If the last contract is to be a benchmark, it’s still substantially less than the Big 12. The last Big East contract gave individual teams revenue in the area of $10 million annually. The next TV contract will be only slightly higher, if that.
In a mind of a businessman, it makes great sense. In a fan’s perspective, it’s even better. Rivals are back, money is greater and TCU’s program will only get better from this move.
The move to the Big East was a great idea last November, and fans cheered accordingly.
Now that the Big 12 is knocking at TCU’s door, all Horned Frog fans should realize this is the better idea and should cheer even louder because of it.
J.D. Moore is a sophomore journalism major from Honolulu, Hawaii. He is also the host of the Fort Worth Four Sports Show on 88.7 FM The Choice.