Big 12 football didn’t take a step back with this conference-realignment Texas two-step.
The potential addition of TCU on the heels of Texas A&M’s departure could actually be argued as an upgrade.
A&M’s in-state rivalries will be missed. That’s especially true if Texas doesn’t get off its wobbly high horse and agree to continue the Thanksgiving tradition. It also strongly applies to the A&M-Tech series, although the Aggies are too stubborn to admit that the Red Raiders are good enough to qualify as a rival despite winning 10 of 15 Big 12 meetings between the programs.
But the quality of football in the conference won’t suffer with this switch of former Southwest Conference schools. And that, more than any other factor, drives the interest that gets eyeballs glued to TVs.
Oh, the Aggies have more money, a much stronger tradition and a larger, more passionate (to pick a complimentary word) fan base. That’s all fine and dandy, but the Horned Frogs have built a better football program with Gary Patterson in charge in the past decade.
It’s not fair to simply compare the records of A&M and TCU during that span. A&M was being bullied by Big 12 powers, while TCU faced inferior competition in Conference USA and the Mountain West. So let’s just boil it down to the bowl games.
TCU is 6-3 in bowl games since 2001, including wins over No. 9 Boise State and No. 5 Wisconsin. A&M is 1-5 in bowls in the past decade.
Yes, the Aggies’ lone bowl win in that span came over TCU. That was way back in 2001, Patterson’s rookie season as a head coach. A whole lot has changed since then.
So much has changed just in the past month. The Aggies have celebrated their escape to the SEC, making their disappointing season that started with the highest expectations in ages for A&M easier to stomach. The long-awaited invitation to the Big 12 gives the Horned Frogs reason to be happy during a rebuilding season on the heels of back-to-back BCS bowls.
Expect TCU to bounce back strong. Its recruiting efforts just got a major boost now that the Horned Frogs don’t have to travel halfway across the country to sit at the big boys’ table.
At the bare minimum, TCU will be a suitable replacement for the Aggies as a middle-of-the-pack Big 12 program.