Tuesday, May 11, 2010
If Mizzou, Nebraska go, does TCU move up?
By Jeff Caplan
An Internet report this week said the Big Ten Conference has made formal offers to four schools, including Missouri and Nebraska. Whille officials at both schools, as well as within the Big Ten, have denied the report, it's obvious that it's only a matter of time before the big shakeup.
If one -- Missouri appears giddy to leave for the Big Ten's bigger revenue sharing -- or both Big 12 North schools bolt, what should the Big 12's response be?
First, Texas, the power broker of the Big 12, would likely be wooed by the SEC so the Big 12 would have to convince Texas to remain the emperor of the league or risk irrelevancy. Then, could the Big 12 pry former Southwest Conference member Arkansas from the SEC? Would Arkansas even be interested? If so, would the Razorbacks simply slide into a vacant spot in the North or move into the South to revitalize old rivalries with Texas and Texas A&M.
Of course, if Missouri and Nebraska opt out of the Big 12, that leaves one more opening. TCU? If Arkansas goes to the South, the Frogs would have to go to the football-weaker North (a positive for TCU) -- with perhaps a migrating Oklahoma or Oklahoma State? The league wouldn't be geographically pure, but so what? The one sticking point with moving the Sooners to the North is the annual Red River Shootout against Texas in Dallas. Teams in opposite divisions play every other year. So, maybe it's the Cowboys who head north (even better for the Frogs).
TCU is well-positioned for a move out of the Mountain West Conference. The football program has never been stronger under Gary Patterson, coming off its first BCS-busting season, a Fiesta Bowl appearance and a No. 6 final ranking in the polls. Attendance woes, long an issue at TCU, could be easing as more people jump on the TCU bandwagon with the program's increased national prominence. Old Amon Carter Stadium is getting closer to major renovations. If TCU were to join the Big 12, watch that place sell out like never before.
Of course, it's all speculation, but from the Frogs' perspective, surely they're wishing Missouri and Nebraska a wonderful new life in a bigger Big Ten.