- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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As promised, here is the second part of the Tuesday mailbag, focusing all on TCU and other expansion topics:
Burns from Toronto writes: BB, I was just curious as to your thoughts on how the addition of TCU will help the Big East bowl lineup come time for the new contracts? In particular, any of the bigger bowls in Texas?
Brian Bennett: That's a good question, and remember that the current four-year bowl cycle begins this year, while TCU joins in 2012. But I'm told that with all the conference realignment this year, there will be major bowl shuffling this spring. For example, the Big 12 won't have as many tie-ins, while the new Pac-12 gets more.
The Big East would like to get a seventh tie-in, though with only nine teams that might be asking for much. If Notre Dame takes the Champs Sports slot this year or next, then the league would have six guaranteed spots for two years after TCU joins. Also remember that with 35 bowls, there will be plenty of open spots.
Walt from Syracuse writes: A lot of us never imagined that the Big East would ask a school in Texas to join or that a football school the caliber of TCU would actually agree to be a part of the conference. So, I'm thinking, if we've already gotten this far, how much crazier would it really be to next ask Boise State? They would like the AQ just like TCU does and honestly, the BCS folks would kiss our backsides into eternity if we took this off their hands. Is that still such a wacky idea anymore after what just happened on Monday?
Brian Bennett: At this point, nothing would surprise me. I actually feel bad for Boise Sate, which thought it was upgrading conferences into the Mountain West before the three best teams from that league all jumped ship. I don't see why the Broncos would feel any loyalty at this point to the Mountain West, which probably won't end up with a BCS bid now. Adding TCU and Boise State would be quite a coup, but here's the problem: It's awfully more difficult to get to Idaho than it is to Dallas.
Rob A. from Durham, N.C., writes: Looking at the TCU addition to the Big East, wouldn't it make sense to tell 'Nova to stay where they are, and add three more schools to go to 20 teams overall, and 12 for football? I would add Central Florida, ECU (you get two media markets, Raleigh and Charlotte) and either Temple, Southern Miss, Memphis or Houston. All would be good fits not only for football, but also basketball. I am a WVU guy, and the rivalry we have with ECU is very nice, and they have a great stadium, plus their almuni are all over North Carolina, pretty much adding the entire state into the Big East.
Brian Bennett: Well, you're certainly thinking big, Rob. But I just don't think the Big East wants to get that big. As John Marinatto noted Monday, there was some fear at first among presidents to go to 17. That fear lessened when they realized what TCU brought to the table. None of the schools you mentioned bring as much as TCU does in football.
Dimitri from Cleveland writes: One more thing. The conference should give up on 'Nova. With TCU coming to the Big East the Big 12 is done for. There is no way it can go back to 12. The Big East should go after KSU, KU and Mizzou. Not only do we get 12 football teams but the biggest sports conference superpower ever in basketball.
Brian Bennett: Villanova is kind of like an ace up the sleeve -- the Big East can go to it whenever it wants, because the Wildcats won't upset any of the other sports. And with a three-year waiting period before they could become full members, the football side would have plenty of time to adjust. I love the idea of the Kansas schools and Missouri, and surely those schools have to be a little nervous about being Texas and Oklahoma's puppets now. But what can the Big East offer them to entice them to jump? Money talks, and the Big East doesn't have enough of it right now.
Robert from Connecticut writes: I totally disagree with your theory. TCU is a terrible fit .We don't need a Central Time Zone team; we need Eastern Time Zone teams. We are called the Big East Conference not the Midwest Conference or anything like that. We don't need the Dallas market, they don't need us; they are just using us as fish bait. We need Georgetown in football, Villanova in football and Notre Dame in football or somebody on the Eastern Time Zone.
Brian Bennett: Robert, you are way too hung up on time zones. The Big East already has teams in the CT: they're called DePaul and Marquette. Louisville and Notre Dame are on the far western edge of the Eastern Time Zone. While Eastern teams would make a better fit, there's no one available that enhances the profile like TCU. Georgetown? Give me a break. We have airplanes nowadays, so what's the big deal? It's much farther from the Arizona schools to the Washington schools than it is from TCU to Louisville and Cincinnati, yet no one ever calls the Pac-10's geography senseless.
Dave from Tampa writes: Hey, Brian, I stumbled upon an article that suggested Notre Dame may now be more likely to join the Big East in football after the addition of TCU. Do you think this has changed anything as far Notre Dame is concerned, or is this just hogwash?
Brian Bennett: Such news can easily substitute for a pork-cleansing product. Notre Dame's dedication to independence doesn't change because of anything TCU does. It was interesting, however, to see Notre Dame's president -- who serves as a leader on the expansion committee -- attend the TCU news conference. I expected him to say, "Welcome to the Big East. Just don't ask us to play you in football."
Rich from Canterbury, Conn., writes: West Texas is a long way from Providence and Storrs. Do you have any estimate of what it will cost to send 24 teams to Texas once or twice or three times a year?
Brian Bennett: "West Texas is a long way from Providence" is also the title of my new country album. You're exaggerating the effect, Rich. As Marinatto said Monday, individual sports teams like golf, tennis, track, etc., don't have to play a Big East regular season. So all you're talking about are team sports like basketball, soccer, volleyball, baseball. And they're only going once every other year. There will be expenses, but would flying from Providence to Dallas be that much different than flying from there to Tampa? And extra TV revenue will help cover the expenses. That's the theory, anyway.
Nick from Cincinnati writes: Who do you think the Big East will make TCU confrence rivals? I am thinking U of L and USF. U of L due to it being the closest school and USF' they could come up with some crazy trophy between the two of them. Or they could also add UC and just create rival games between all of the old C-USA teams.
Brian Bennett: I'm not a fan of "creating" rivalries. I think they should happen organically. TCU's biggest rival will probably be the team that's most competitive against the Horned Frogs right away. In the absence of geography, close games and bitter losses add up over time to make a rivalry.
Nick from Morgantown writes: How do the other members of the Mountain West, particularly Boise, feel about TCU's defection? Would the addition of Boise State as a football only member outweigh travel concerns?
Brian Bennett: You know what, Nick? I used to get a lot of e-mail from Mountain West fans bashing the Big East and demanding to know why their league didn't take the Big East's auto bid. They've been curiously quiet of late. The Mountain West must feel like the Big East in 2005. Three cornerstone programs have defected, and now they're left hoping teams from a lower league can fill the gaps.
Dave from Pittsburgh writes: Do you think people would be less hung up on the geography thing if the conference changed names? TCU was a terrible fit in the Mountain West (as is Hawaii), Louisiana Tech doesn't make sense in the Western Athletic and so on. There are 12 teams in the Big 10, and while you can make fun of that fuzzy math, no one says that the Nebraska move was bad solely because of the name of the conference. I think the geographical argument is just another way for those who, for whatever reason, just don't like the Big East.
Brian Bennett: Solid points, Dave, and I agree. Let's just all agree to look at conference names for what they are: brand names based on history that have no real current meaning. (Like GEICO, which stands for Government Employee Insurance Co. but now sells insurance to everybody and makes lots of commercials with cavemen and geckos. But I digress). I give credit to Conference USA (those are six words I've never before typed) for making its name as generic and malleable as possible. As long as that league doesn't add any teams from Mexico or Japan, it's golden.