TCU athletics director Chris Del Conte isn’t often at a loss for words. The second half of my Tuesday sit-down with Del Conte touched on TCU’s move to the Big East, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ scheduled practices on campus and even the athletic director’s favorite childhood sports teams.
Here is part two of the Q&A:
Q: Where are you in terms of rescheduling a non-conference game after Texas Tech backed out?
A: I should have an announcement by Wednesday. It’s done. I just have to wait on one little hiccup on the schedule. We are now negotiating…I’m excited about the team, it still continues a good rivalry. But at the same time it gives us a chance. If you look at my schedule, the bad thing about the [Texas] Tech situation was they knew so long ago. My schedule’s done, I got Arkansas [scheduled], I got LSU [scheduled], I got Oklahoma [scheduled]. We’re down to 2016 and 2017, so when you have to scramble, it makes it for real problems, because everyone’s [schedule is] already full.
Q: On the effect of moving to the Big East for other TCU sports:
A: I think rising tide floats all boats. Soccer is huge [in the Big East], they are national champions at Notre Dame in soccer this year…volleyball is significantly stronger in the Big East, [as is] women’s basketball, men’s basketball…it is comprehensively a very, very good league. It’s a very competitive baseball league; it’s actually ranked higher than [the Mountain West]. It puts us in a different arena.
Q: On cost of travel compared to playing in the Mountain West:
A: Now cost-wise, believe it or not, and some people laugh at my mathematics, it’s about 150 more [miles] collectively going east than it is going west for us. Some trips are going to be a little bit farther, but for us, remember, we added Boise State, Fresno, Nevada into the mix as well. And for football you added Hawaii. Now if you play a 7 o’clock [night game] on the East Coast, you actually pick up hours coming back. [Coming back from the West Coast,] it’s crazy.
Q: Is there a plan to boost the competitiveness of men’s basketball with the move to the Big East?
A: Going to the Big East is a daunting challenge for our basketball program, both men’s and women’s, because it’s arguably the best [basketball] conference in the country. So I always look and say, “Where do we think collectively our program could go?’ I look at it as a five-year snapshot. I think you have to look at the great talent in Texas that starts leaving east. Great talent is leaving because they’re going to go to the best conference in the country. So can we keep that talent, does this allow us to open that door and say, “You don’t have to go play at St. John’s or Georgetown or Syracuse or Connecticut or Villanova. You can stay right here.’ When I start looking at Louisville, Cincinnati, all those programs, their facilities are incredible there, they’ve invested in those facilities. Nothing has been done to Daniel-Meyer [Coliseum] for years and years and years. So my job is then to give our coaches all the tools necessary to be successful, because what you cannot do is start to evaluate a coach, and say, “Hey what have we done to help him?’ What comes first: the chicken or the egg? And we’ve given ourselves now, going into the Big East, we’ve given us the chicken because now we have the league. And as we continue to move forward, we have to look at the coliseum. We have a society that is instantaneous, with the advent of the Internet. I call it the “Urban Meyer effect.’ He goes to Bowling Green, boom, two years, they’re great. He goes to Utah, boom, [then] he goes to Florida. We want that success tomorrow, and I want it tomorrow just as bad as everybody, but I gotta sit back and go, “OK, what do those other programs have that we don’t have right now. What are they doing?’
Q: On the Pittsburgh Steelers practicing on campus:
A: For ESPN to pick Fort Worth [as the Super Bowl headquarters], it just continues to talk about our story. And I mean our story as a city. “Hey, guess what, the Pittsburgh Steelers are working out at T-C-U.’ You get to continue that momentum. Two weeks later is signing day. It’s like the gift that never quits giving. It’s been exciting, because I think the thing about us is that we’ve been preaching, and Gary [Patterson’s] been preaching, it’s about community.
Q: Do you have a favorite NFL team?
A: I’m a product of the ’70s. I’m a Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees, Philadelphia 76ers fan. Who was winning back in the day? It was Dr. J, it was Goose Gossage, it was Roger the Dodger [Staubach], I mean, those were my teams when I was a little kid.