Issues has arisen. You have questions. I'll attempt to provide answers.
You: Wait, did I hear that right? The Big East wants TCU to join the conference?
Me: Yep, at least according to a source that spoke with Lenn Robbins at the NY Post.
"We are in a situation that requires us to evaluate and analyze all our options including expansion and television," said a source close to the league who requested anonymity. "There are a dozen or so schools that we’re looking at."
One source stressed that there have been no meetings among Big East presidents or ADs to discuss membership. But that source also said expansion has altered the way conferences think. The fact that TCU hardly matches the Big East footprint is a tertiary concern.
You: But TCU is in Texas, right?
Me: That's right. Texas Christian is located in Ft. Worth, Texas. The nearest Big East school, Louisville, is 755 miles away.
You: Well, I mean, they're really good at football, right?
Me: Sure, I mean, if you're just taking the last 28 months into account, they're one of the best football programs in the country.
You: Well that's great. How's their lacrosse program?
Me: Uh...lacking? Though, that leads to a bigger question. Aside from football, which is a big piece of the puzzle, what else does TCU offer? They're just another mediocre basketball program for a conference that's already got one too-many of those. They've got a good baseball team but we don't really care about that in this conference. They have rifle teams, but then again you already assumed that.
You: Are you concerned that the Big East is making a decision based on short-term assumptions rather than thinking big picture.
Me: Absolutely. There's no guarantee TCU is still a great football team ten, five or even three years from now. Remember Houston in the early 90's? Or BYU in the 80's? Or Hawaii a couple years ago? Amazing bursts of success followed by years of nothing special at all. The ONLY reason you even think of TCU is for their football. And if their football isn't good anymore, well, what's the point?
You: But what about their media market?
Me: Yeah, I guess. Sure it gets access to the Dallas market. Though, having never been there, I can assume two things. TCU's probably not as big a deal as we'd like to think they are, especially when the Cowboys are on. And the Texas Longhorns probably still pulls better ratings and more interest.
You: What about the fact that this would weaken the Mountain West?
Me: That's actually a really good point. More now than ever, the Big East is fighting for its reputation. On the field it's doing nothing to combat its stereotype. What's the next best option? Take down the competition. Taking TCU from the MWC would be a huge blow to a conference already suffering from the losses of Utah and BYU. It would eliminate the Big East's biggest threat to its BCS status and the conference would get better, at least in football, in the short-term.
You: You don't sound sold. Are you honestly going to tell me that it would be better to take on FCS Villanova than TCU?
Me: That's a ballsy argument to make, and I'm not saying it would be better. But it would make more long-term sense. Of course, I have to admit the Big East might not have a long-term to think about anymore so perhaps it truly is the best course of action to do a "whatever it takes to survive" move like this. Still, it just feels weird.
You: Would it make you feel better if the Big East invited TCU and then just said f**k it and started inviting other schools from all over the country?
Me: At this point, probably. Might as well try to become a mega-conference rather than a wonky 9-team conference with the word East in the title and teams in Ohio and Texas.
You: Is this all just a idle threat to force Villanova's hand?
Me: Honestly, that makes a lot of sense to me. Villanova would have to be ten kinds of idiotic not to move up to the Big East. I almost want to just invite Temple back at this point just to piss them off. Still, they need to be a Big East football team. Perhaps this is a rumor meant to make Nova sweat, cause if we have TCU, we surely don't NEED them for football anymore.
You: Paul Tagliabue once said that the good people of Long Island wouldn't be interested in watching Rutgers play Minnesota if the Knights jumped to the Big Ten. Does he honestly believe they'll be interested in TCU vs. Rutgers instead?
Me: You'd be amazed how quickly he'd turn that around if all of a sudden the conference invited Minnesota tomorrow. Which, for all we know, they might.
You: How pumped are you to know a TCU vs. DePaul basketball game could represent the Big East?
Me: Thank God John Thompson isn't still alive to see this...