Dallas Colleges: TCU to Big East
The TCU Horned Frogs had to wait 17 years to gain entrance into the Big 12 conference. Now that they have arrived there will be no waiting to know the Frogs' 2012 football foes.
The schedule, with dates and times to be determined, is set. And, boy, what a difference.
Gone are the days of traveling west in the Mountain West Conference, and the days of heading to the chilly northeast will never be in the Big East Conference.
TCU will play three non-conference games in 2012 -- two at home against Grambling State and Virginia, with the annual rivalry against SMU returning to the east side of the Metroplex. Oklahoma, originally on the non-conference slate as part of series with the Sooners last played in Norman in 2005, is now a conference game.
The rest of the Frogs' conference schedule is: Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and Missouri.
Here's a comparison of TCU's 2011 schedule in the MWC, its would-be 2012 schedule in the Big East and its newest schedule in the Big 12 (conference games denoted with an asterisk):
2011 MWC schedule
at Air Force*
vs. Portland State
at San Diego State*
vs. New Mexico*
vs. BYU (at Cowboys Stadium)
at Boise State*
vs. Colorado State*
2012 Big East schedule
vs. Grambling State
2012 Big 12 schedule
vs. Grambling State
Officials from the remaining seven Big East football-playing schools met Tuesday night in New York to discuss the future of the conference in the wake of the sudden weekend exits of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC. They decided to stick together and seek new members.
|Trey Fallon and Landry Locker discuss TCU's future in the Big East, the Frogs' win over ULM, and this week's game against Portland State.
The conference released a statement at the conclusion of the meeting regarding its strategy:
"Our membership met this evening and we are committed as a conference to recruit top level BCS caliber institutions with strong athletic and academic histories and traditions. We have been approached by a number of such institutions and will pursue all of our options to make the Big East Conference stronger than it has ever been in both basketball and football."
However, despite the supposed solidarity, damage to the Big East might not be done yet. Connecticut is reportedly striving to leave for the ACC and Rutgers could also be a defector down the coast. If those two programs leave the Big East would dwindle to just five football programs, requiring some hefty recruitment just to get to 10.
The Big East will gain greater clarity very soon. In fact, they might want to reconvene. Just after the conclusion of the Big East meetings, the Pac-12 presidents voted not to expand, a total game-changer for Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, which are now in a rather interesting and precarious situation.
The Big East and Big 12 had discussed a possible merger of the schools that remained if the Texas and Oklahoma 4 left for the Pac-12 to form the Pac-16 as most believed would eventually happen, and nearly happened a year ago. If the Big 12 survives, it will need to expand by one to get to 10 or by three to reach its original dozen, and Big East member Louisville has long been rumored as a target.
TCU has long not been a target of the Big 12. Could things change there?
Earlier Tuesday, TCU coach Gary Patterson expressed confidence that TCU will be prosperous whenever the realignment dust finally settles.
"I think we’ll be fine and we’ll move on with what we have to do," Patterson said. "But the biggest thing we can do is go win and keep developing everything."
Since the breakup of the Southwest Conference in the mid-1990s, TCU has competed in the WAC, Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference -- all non-AQ conferences. Entering the Big East, one of six AQ conferences, was to be its big break.
Perhaps it still will be.
The USA Today Coaches Poll has just been revealed and to no surprise the Oklahoma Sooners are ranked No. 1.
Alabama, Oregon, LSU and Florida State round out the top five. That's good news for Jerry Jones since Cowboys Stadium will feature the Sept. 3 ABC primetime matchup pitting No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 4 LSU.
Oklahoma State starts the season at No. 8 and Texas A&M certainly has plenty to be excited about at No. 9, its highest preseason ranking since 1999. The Aggies return to Cowboys Stadium once again against No. 14 Arkansas on Oct. 1. A&M opens the season on Sunday, Sept. 4 at home against June Jones' SMU Mustangs, a favorite to win Conference USA.
Perhaps a bit of a surprise is the tumble of TCU to No. 15 -- one spot ahead of Ohio State. The Rose Bowl champion Horned Frogs capped last season's 13-0 record with a win over Wisconsin in Pasadena and finished No. 2 in the nation behind national champion Auburn. But, the graduation of quarterback Andy Dalton and some other key starters on both sides of the ball apparently has coaches across the land a bit skeptical that TCU can quickly reboot in its final season in the non-BCS Mountain West Conference. TCU joins the Big East Conference in 2012.
According to the TCU athletic department, the Frogs' streak of being ranked in 42 consecutive polls is the longest in school history and fourth-longest currently in the nation.
Boise State, TCU's new MWC counterpart, starts the season where it ended last season at No. 7. The Frogs play at Boise on Nov. 12, a game originally scheduled to be played at Fort Worth, but moved by the MWC because of TCU's exit.
Texas, one of two teams to crack the top 25 that finished with a losing record last season (Georgia), opens at No. 24. The Bulldogs are No. 22.
Frogs sports information director Mark Cohen has the Frogs' home and away league slate for 2012. Let's just say, go east, Frogs and pack the thermals.
2012 Big East home games
Cincinnati, Louisville, South Florida, West Virginia
2012 Big East road games
Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse
Evans, 64, has 42 years of collegiate coaching experience. As a head coach, six of his 14 teams have earned postseason tournament bids.
"Anytime you have a chance to add a national coach of the year to your staff, it is a great opportunity," TCU head coach Jim Christian said. "Rob also has strong ties to the state of Texas, so he is just a great overall fit for TCU basketball."
Evans arrives at TCU from Arkansas, where he spent four seasons as an assistant to John Pelphrey. Included among the highlights of his four-year tenure with the Razorbacks are trips to the finals of the SEC tournament and the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
"I am excited for the opportunity to coach at TCU," Evans said. "I have followed the TCU program for several years, especially since the arrival of Jim Christian. I can't wait to begin working with Jim and his staff."
Evans directed Ole Miss from 1993-98 and led the Rebels to back-to-back NCAA Tournament bids. He was named SEC Coach of the Year in 1997.
He guided Arizona State from 1999-2006 and led the program to postseason appearances in three of his last five years.
The native of Hobbs, N.M., was an assistant to Eddie Sutton at Oklahoma State in 1991 and 1992 after spending 15 years at Texas Tech (1976-90). He started his coaching career by spending seven seasons under Lou Henson at his alma mater New Mexico State (1969-75), a stint which included a trip to the Final Four in 1970.
A multi-sport star, Evans was drafted out of high school by the Colt 45s, who eventually became the Houston Astros. Following college, he signed as a free agent with the Dallas Chaparrals of the American Basketball Association and with the Oakland Raiders as a receiver.
Wisconsin, after all, was the only team to beat Gee's Buckeyes this season. Reached by the New York Times' Pete Thamel on Saturday night, Gee said: “I’m going to New Orleans tomorrow [where Ohio State will play in the Sugar Bowl], and Antoine’s is a great restaurant. I think they serve crow, and I’ll be eating my portion of that. TCU played a great game, and they deserved to be recognized for that. Obviously, TCU is a great ball team.”
Frogs coach Gary Patterson was asked after the 21-19 New Year's Day victory that boosted TCU its first undefeated and untied season since 1938 if he had a message from Gee. Patterson remained diplomatic.
"I don't have any messages for him," Patterson said. "I make mistakes every day. So what I'm going to do is know that TCU is 13-0. We've won 44 ballgames, this senior class has in the last four years. And know that at any point in time anybody can beat anybody."
TCU's time as the little guy in college football's hierarchy is coming to an end. The Horned Frogs will play one final season in the non-automatic qualifying Mountain West Conference and then join the establishment as a member of the Big East Conference, one of the six power conferences granted automatic access to the BCS.
"I think what we’ve been able to do for the past however many of years and the success that we’ve had, we’ve earned the respect," said senior Andy Dalton, who exits TCU as the school's all-time winningest quarterback. "I think people are really starting to realize how good TCU is and I guess the Big East obviously realized that and wanted us to be a part of their conference, and so I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for TCU."
The Frogs will leave the fight for equality to the Boise State's of the world. Yet, on some level, it would seem the Frogs and Patterson will miss the underdog role, always having to strive for perfection, to take the hard road, to constantly have to prove that they belong. After all, TCU, along with Boise State, have been the ones constantly harrassing the BCS and leading the surge of public animosity toward college football's postseason power structure.
"We’ll always be that," Patterson said of retaining underdog status despite the move up. "Yeah, because we’re in the state of Texas. We’re never going to be compared to the Big East. Just like in the Mountain West, we’re compared to Texas and [Texas] A&M and Texas Tech. That’s how we recruit. We recruit to try to beat the Big 12."
This season the Big East was weakest of the power six. Connecticut, at 8-4 after the regular season, represented the conference in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday night and was handled by Big 12 champion Oklahoma, 48-20. Only West Virginia, with four losses, finished the season with fewer than five losses. The Big East sought the Frogs to lift their football profile.
Unless there's a sudden surge by one of the current eight Big East programs, the Frogs could walk into the league in 2012 as favorites to win it and claim the BCS slot.
The lure of the Big East is its automatic berth. Win the conference and you're in. No longer will perfection, which the Frogs have accomplished in consecutive regular seasons, a prerequisite. No longer will an early non-conference loss a season death sentence.
Yet, even there, Patterson found room to quibble.
"As far as a national championship it is, but not playing for a BCS game," Patterson said. "If you’re ultimate goal is playing for a national championship then you’re still tyring to get done what you’re trying to get done. It still means you need to go undefeated and do the things you need to do."
TCU opened the third quarter with a 71-yard touchdown drive to go up by eight. Wisconsin countered with a drive, but Frogs linebacker Tank Carder ended the threat with a crushing sack that leveled Badgers quarterback Scott Tolzien.
The Frogs had to punt on their next possession, but the Frogs downed a 38-yard punt at the Wisconsin 3-yard line and the TCU defense, putting on the ultimate bend-but-don't-break performance, forced a three-and-out.
TCU enters the fourth quarter with the ball and a chance to pin the Badgers on the ropes.
FORT WORTH, Texas -- The talk about TCU's move to the Big East has, rightfully, centered around football. But all of TCU's sports are making the conference change from the Mountain West to the Big East.
That means TCU's men's and women's basketball programs will be taking on many traditional basketball powers in a deep league.
TCU men's coach Jim Christian, who coached at Pittsburgh early in his career, knows all about the Big East and what it means to have to face tough competition like that on a regular basis.
"You're in a historic league, one with national champions and Hall of Fame coaches and great players," Christian said. "It's a tradition-filled conference and will be interesting for us. I'm looking forward to seeing the whole process unfold. We have to work hard and define who we want to be once we get to the Big East conference and that's going to be some great discussions."
And those discussions aren't just a coach with his players. TCU must decide how to best allocate its resources to boost the program if it wants to compete in a difficult league. Will that include more facility upgrades and an even stronger commitment to basketball? It will have to if the university wants to compete.
"It starts with recruiting and getting quality players and being in that league opens up a lot of doors," Christian said. "But it's a total commitment. You don't be those types of programs in those types of leagues without 100 percent support from the top on down. The Big East was founded as a basketball conference. I lived in New York and coached in the Big East. I understand the importance of it to all the schools there. I think it's an awareness with our university and we wouldn't be making this type of jump if we didn't have that kind of support and that's what is so exciting."
Does he expect his team to get beat up as he tries to build the program and compete in the Big East?
"Time will tell," Christian said. "I think we're so worried about what happened in the past that we're afraid to worry about what we can be. It can be the best thing that happened to us because it can open up a lot of eyes in playing in a big league. If we go about this thing the right way, it can be a great thing. It can separate us from a lot of people and open some doors."
Christian is excited about the chance to recruit players knowing he can sell the idea that they are playing tradition powers like Syracuse, UConn, Louisville and others in the Big East.
"It's new, it's different, it's something everyone knows," Christian said. "Recruiting is telling stories. But it's also hard work and relationships. It doesn't change the process, but it opens up some new doors hopefully and some things we can take advantage of."
Expect TCU to take some lumps in basketball because of this change. TCU AD Chris Del Conte takes the "rising tide floats all boats" approach to the change. That can work if TCU is committed. It will be an interesting thing to watch in the coming years.
FORT WORTH, Texas -- TCU coach Gary Patterson said he'd be disappointed, but understanding if his team didn't play for a national title because Auburn and Oregon were undefeated.
But what if one loses this weekend and his Horned Frogs still don't get a chance to play for the big prize?
|Galloway and Company debates whether TCU made a deal with the devil when they joined the Big East.
Patterson said he's preparing for the Rose Bowl (that's expected to be Wisconsin) and not worrying about what might or might not happen.
"There's not anything I can do about it," Patterson said. "I'm not sure whoever we play in the Rose Bowl isn't as good as anyone we could play in the national championship game. So we're going to prepare for it because I've already watched them on film and I can assure you they are as good as anyone."
Patterson said he thinks about the fact that TCU won't go undefeated every year and that he'd like to get a shot at a national championship.
"You can only do what you can control," Patterson said. "I've always been one that's defended the system. Will I be disappointed that we don't get to play for the national title? Yes. If both are undefeated, all three of us would have a case. Every one of those other two teams can say their pyramid is colored in the same as ours is and they have every right to be there."
|Todd McShay reacts to TCU's move to the Big East and dishes on Wisconsin, Randy Shannon's dismissal and Boise State's loss to Nevada.
"We're not going to make the mistake of becoming a national recruiter," Patterson said. "We'll still recruit our spots. We still know we built ourselves that way. Those are mistakes people have made in their programs is they try to become something else. We won't change much. But we've crossed some boundaries that have been held against us."
What are those?
"They can't say, 'Well, you're not an automatic qualifier,'" Patterson said. "That's changed for us. That's different now. You don't have that hanging over your head. That makes it a lot better for TCU."
|TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte discusses the process of joining the Big East, the logistics of the change in conferences and how the Frogs benefit from the move.
Not all that much, actually. The Big East has had a plan to add a 17th and 18th team to its hoops slate for a while now. The move will cause some slight adjustments in scheduling -- repeat games will be the main bugaboo, and the conference tournament could get a little tricky -- but it's nothing the big brains at Big East league headquarters can't handle.Click here for more from Eamonn Brennan on the national college basketball blog.
The announcement upcoming this afternoon that TCU is headed to the Big East has major ramifications for the university. And we'll get into all of that in the next few days.
|ESPN college football analyst Jesse Palmer weighs in on the possible scenarios for the BCS title game.
And look at this year: Before Boise State's loss to Nevada, it was possible TCU was going to go 12-0 and not make a BCS bowl. Think about that.
Now, that's not a problem. Starting in the 2012 football season, TCU will be playing in a conference that has an automatic bid to the BCS party. UConn is in the driver's seat this season and they have four losses. It means that if TCU loses one game, the season isn't over in terms of playing with the big boys.
This move means TCU has the security of knowing if they win their conferenece, they are in a BCS bowl. Isn't that reassuring for Frogs fans?
(More to come later on all of the other advantages to this deal -- exposure, TV, etc.)
More to come ...
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