West Virginia and TCU are in, Texas A&M and Missouri are out. But Football Outsiders' Brian Fremeau agrees with me: The Big 12 got an upgrade on the field.
From Fremeau's look at WVU and TCU's fit in the Big 12:
According to our five-year weighted Program FEI ratings, the Big 12 upgraded this offseason. West Virginia and TCU both rank among the top 20 in PFEI, while Missouri and Texas A&M are ranked outside the top 25. The new Big 12 has five top-20 PFEI programs in 2012, one fewer than the SEC and outpacing the rest of the power conferences -- Pac-12 (three), ACC (three) and Big Ten (two).
So what can we expect from the duo?
On average, the FEI ratings suggest that West Virginia would have been the second-best program in the Big 12 in the past five seasons, winning an average of 6.2 conference games per year against a nine-game Big 12 slate. TCU would have ranked third, projecting an average of 6.0 conference wins per season in the past five years. Only the Oklahoma Sooners would have been expected to top West Virginia and TCU in terms of total league wins in that span.
None of this is to say, however, that the road is easier in the Big 12 for the Mountaineers and Horned Frogs. TCU posted undefeated seasons in Mountain West play each of the past three years, losing only five conference games in the past five seasons. In the same span in the Big 12, TCU would have been projected to lose 15 games. West Virginia lost twice in Big East play in each of the past five years but would have been projected to lose four more conference games in the same span in the Big 12.
Interesting stuff. West Virginia's been a solid program the last decade, but it's startling to see (but less surprising, considering Texas' recent struggles) the Mountaineers as the second-best program in the league over that span. You'll need ESPN Insider to see the full post, but this one's worth it.
How do you see TCU and WVU fitting on the Big 12 totem pole?