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Thursday, January 20, 2011
TCU scheduling woes for 2011

By Andrea Adelson

One of the biggest complaints about non-AQ teams like Boise State and TCU is the "easy" schedule they play. Critics scream they should man up and play the "big boys" in nonconference, to "prove" their worth before they get into "cupcake" league play. Or as E. Gordon Gee likes to call it, "Little Sisters of the Poor" play.

But what happens when Texas Tech backs out of a game against TCU for the second year in a row? Does anybody scream that Texas Tech is trying to avoid playing the Horned Frogs? That certainly appears to be the case. Texas Tech says it had to drop TCU because it needed to make room for another conference game in the new nine-game Big 12 league schedule. Yet the Red Raiders kept nonconference games against New Mexico (two wins in the last two years) and Nevada (in for a rebuilding year without Colin Kaepernick, Vai Taua and Dontay Moch), and are reportedly scheduled to open the season against FCS Texas State.

Bailing on TCU this late in the game puts the Horned Frogs in a terrible situation. As athletic director Chris Del Conte pointed out in an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas Tech has known for months that it would be playing a nine-game league schedule. So why wait so long to back out? Texas Tech may not care about it strength of schedule because it is in an automatic qualifying league, but TCU cares plenty.

There is precious little time left to find a marquee opponent now for TCU, which is in definite need of doing so in its final year in the Mountain West. Nonconference schedules are usually worked out years in advance, so the number of teams with open dates right now is slim. TCU is getting the raw end of this one, yet you can bet when 2011 kicks off, there will be critics who complain the nonconference schedule is too weak unless a top opponent is found to fill the Texas Tech slot. TCU has Baylor and SMU scheduled in nonconference play.

There was another bit of scheduling news tucked into this report on Texas Tech. The Mountain West is considering moving the Boise State-TCU game to Boise for 2011 -- the lone season the two are scheduled to play as members of the same conference. Last summer, commissioner Craig Thompson said the game would most likely be at TCU because Boise State would just take Utah's spot on the schedule.

But much has changed since last summer. TCU is moving to the Big East, and a home game in Boise would certainly give the Broncos a home-field advantage and therefore benefit the MWC in its quest to become an automatic qualifying conference. The move seems downright petty, though you can see why the Mountain West would favor a school that is going to be a member beyond 2011.

Predictably, Del Conte is not pleased, telling ESPNDallas.com: "It's our home game and they told us it would be our home game and to change the rules midstream is not appropriate. I'm hoping they do what we originally said, which was that it would be a home game for TCU. To me to change it is not right, but that's been the discussion."

Changing the site requires a vote of the conference presidents. TCU does not get a vote because it is leaving the league. Thompson tells the Idaho Statesman that a decision will be made in no more than two to three weeks from now.

Oh by the way, Boise State has not lost a conference game at home since 1998.