Thursday, October 06, 2011

It's not expansion-palooza, but it's something

Hey, the Big 12 finally did something smart (and kicked the Big East right in the groin in the process):
The Big 12 voted Thursday to invite TCU into the conference, and the school is expected to accept, according to sources. No announcement has been scheduled. TCU chancellor Victor Boschini Jr. issued a statement.

"These discussions with the Big 12 have huge implications for TCU," the statement said. "It will allow us to return to old rivalries, something our fans and others have been advocating for many years. As always, we must consider what's best for TCU and our student-athletes in this ever-changing landscape of collegiate athletics. We look forward to continuing these discussions with the Big 12."

And with that, the Big 12 can say "whateva" to Missouri and be confident that it'll have at least four solid football programs, which is swell considering that Mizzou is basically hitchhiking on I-40:
The University of Missouri hopes to join the Southeastern Conference but would have preferred an offer from the Big Ten that never came, a school official told The Associated Press.

Missouri hoped to join the Big Ten last year, but the league instead chose Nebraska. The university official said the Big Ten remains Missouri's top choice but that conference "has no interest."

"That's what's left," the official said, referring to the SEC.

I like how Mizzou has been so tactful about the whole thing. Whether or not the SEC is legitimately interested is unknown, but my guess is that Mizzou ends up getting an invitation if for no other reason than the lack of alternatives. The only other geographically and athletically plausible option is West Virginia, and the SEC just rejected that idea with authoritah a couple weeks ago. Fortunately for everybody, the imminent TCU switcharoo means a move by Missouri would have little impact on anybody other than Missouri and whichever SEC team has to shuffle from the West to the East to balance the divisions (I'm assuming Mizzou and Texas A&M would both go into the West). The SEC will be done, the Big 12 will grab BYU/Louisville/Houston/Tulane/whoever to get back in the vicinity of 10 teams and the Big East will ... ummm ... something.

The TCU thing makes it a lot harder to envision the Big East surviving in any meaningful fashion beyond next year. There will only be six football-playing schools left, and Louisville is supposedly on the Big 12's expansion short list (probably No. 2 after BYU). With half a conference and no viable expansion candidates, what's the next move? Either everybody bails and starts looking for a home or the conference adds Villanova and a couple other bottomfeeders and becomes the Mountain West Northeast. Either way, West Virginia and UConn will be slutting up and looking for a way out. There just aren't enough football-relevant programs to keep that conference afloat as anything other than an afterthought, which is kinda sad but not that big of a deal unless it leads to Notre Dame doing something (unlikely).

Upshot: The Big 12 is safe, TCU has a logical future home, Missouri's future is largely irrelevant in the whole superconference/pangea thing and the Big East is a step closer to its seemingly inevitable football-playing death.


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