TCU’s leap to the Big East became the premiere example of how the college football landscape transcended geography and tradition and swung completely in favor of TV ratings and the BCS Big Bucks.
When ESPN argues that TCU’s move to the Big East is logical because the Dallas Cowboys play in the NFC East 8212; well, that is all you need to know about the sorry state of college football.
Sure, TCU adds some firepower to a sagging Big East football slate that has one current team in the BCS standings 8212; No. 24 West Virginia. At the same time, the move neutralizes the Mountain West Conference, the primary threat to the Big East’s automatic-qualifying BCS bid.
The MWC lost its teeth as Utah, BYU and TCU snuck off giggling while Boise State was left with its pants on the ground as the only marquee program of which the MWC can boast in 2012. It’s a cold, windy day for Boise State to get pantsed after losing to Nevada Friday. Heck, the Broncos got pantsed and then doused with a cooler of ice water.
In contrast, TCU is smelling roses right now. A pretty big fiesta may even be in the works with a little help, even if the BCS still smells more like a cattle auction at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo 8212; and by 2012, TCU will have that same scent as an automatic-qualifying beneficiary.
According to a TCU Athletics press release, head football coach Gary Patterson said, “Obviously there is an automatic-qualifying berth that goes along with this, so for us, that plays into the realm of things and how we wanted to do this. We have more TV markets when you play on TV, more people will watch us on a national scale. So I think it’s a great move.”
Agreed. TCU will not have to go undefeated just for a sniff at a BCS bowl. It just has to win a Big East title, and that makes a lot of sense in terms of BCS Big Bucks, but not necessarily so much sense in terms of that elusive spot in the BCS National Championship. The Big East, in fact, is far from automatic in terms of a national championship berth.
In 2007, then-No. 2 West Virginia was poised to make it to the national championship before 4-7 Pittsburgh upended the Mountaineers in the Backyard Brawl.
Last season, then-undefeated Cincinnati would likely have been the opponent, not TCU, dismantled by Alabama in the BCS Championship had a burnt-orange one second not been added to the Big 12 championship game.
The Big East is the only BCS automatic-qualifying school to never have a current member play for a BCS National Championship 8212; Miami (Florida) and Virginia Tech moved to the ACC in 2004.
Further, the week-to-week Big East conference slate will likely have more land mines than the 2011 or 2012 MWC will possess. Pitt, West Virginia and Connecticut, who is currently in the driver seat to win the Big East this season, will provide ranked conference competition most years. Cincinnati had an undefeated regular season just year ago; and Syracuse, Louisville, South Florida and Rutgers are all up-and-coming.
This season, four MWC teams have three or fewer wins; no Big East team has fewer than four wins overall. Take the Horned Frogs out of the equation, and the MWC and Big East both have one representative in the top 25 BCS standings.
If the goal is having a seat at the BCS Big Boys’ table where the BCS Big Bucks can be earned, then TCU’s move to the Big East makes perfect sense.
Remember, a victory by South Carolina or Oregon State Saturday means TCU is most likely in the Tostitos BCS National Championship while sitting at the head of the kids’ table in 2010-11.
We have been spoiled by two consecutive undefeated regular seasons by TCU. Relish it, because something as special as an undefeated season isn’t likely to happen again in Fort Worth any time soon. But then again, it doesn’t have to if the BCS Big Bucks are the real goal.
Ryne Sulier is a senior news-editorial journalism and political science double major from Plano.