By Ross Morgan:
A few days ago The New York Post had a story speculating that the Big East conference was interested in adding TCU as a member. At the time I ignored the story because I viewed it as pure speculation (not to mention it was also published by the notorious NY Post). But think about it, TCU is getting attention from a New York newspaper! Millions of people on the island of Manhattan, when walking to work, picked up a coffee, donut and article on TCU. This thought has led me to analyze the rumored situation, and determine that a move to the Big East would be in TCU’s best interest.
Like I alluded to before, a move to the Big East conference absolutely increases TCU’s visibility in every conceivable way. First, compare the population difference between the geographic area associated with the Big East with that associated with the Mountain West. The amount of eyeballs viewing our games with interest would increase dramatically. As of right now, the Big East is an automatic qualifying conference. This means that sports analysts and their networks will actually care about the in-conference games because the winner of the conference gets into a coveted BCS bowl. Right now, the interest in Mountain West Conference games is incredibly low (except on The Mtn). Ever wonder why you will see a random Big East game get hyped up on ESPN while the average Mountain West game is relegated to a network that is only available on the DirecTV Xtra Sports Package? This is why. For most teams in AQ conferences, the regular season is a lot like the NFL regular season. The goal is to win the division (or conference) so that you get into the (BCS) postseason. Although recent Mountain West conference champions have gone to BCS games, this isn’t due to winning the conference, but can be chalked up to being undefeated. When the “big boys” won’t accept you unless you’re perfect, you really aren’t being accepted by the big boys. This is TCU’s chance to join the adult table, and everyone’s eyes are on it.
However, although TCU would be in a more visible conference, none of its conference games will be more hyped or more important than the upcoming annual Mountain West match-up with Boise State. Next year, Boise is joining the MWC, and that means an annual contest against TCU. This was last year’s Fiesta Bowl matchup. There isn’t much of an argument against the idea that TCU and Boise St are the two most important non-AQ teams in FBS (despite what you hear from BYU). Boise and TCU are both currently ranked as top-five teams in both the AP and Coaches polls. Both are in the national championship discussion (random thought: Does anybody want to see an Ohio State – Alabama national championship game? Maybe I’m biased, but it seems like the majority of the nation hopes one slips up so that TCU or Boise gets a chance to prove they belong – alas, most prefer Boise). The fact that TCU and Boise are going to play each other every year is huge! This has the potential to become UT vs OU caliber. This game will be the Ohio State – Michigan of the Mountain West and will give the conference incredible visibility. Right now, there is not a Big East matchup that will give TCU anywhere near the same visibility as the annual matchup with Boise. If TCU joins the Big East, it loses that.
But I think joining the Big East is worth it.
The Big East is an automatic qualifying conference. I know a lot of TCU fans are the Rage Against the Machine type that rail against the system being corrupt and would love nothing more than to defeat it. I am one of those people. But, sometimes the old adage, “If you can’t beat them, join them” is appropriate. This is one of the times when TCU should join them. Last year, TCU and Cincinnati (A Big East school) were undefeated. Neither got into the National Championship, but had UT lost the Big 12 championship game, one of the schools would. TCU was ranked ahead of Cincinnati going into the final week. However, in the final BCS ranking, Cincinnati jumped TCU by a slight margin. The Big East is more highly regarded than the Mountain West, despite the simulated conference rankings showing otherwise. TCU joining the Big East absolutely destroys the Mountain West’s ranking. The Mountain West’s good reputation is because of TCU. If TCU leaves, the conference is almost as bad as the Sun Belt. Since this is the case, TCU joining the Big East gives them as a big of a boost as the loss to the Mountain West. The Big East is an Automatic Qualifying conference, and this means TCU would be guaranteed BCS bowl games every time it won the conference. The Big East upon adding TCU, I believe, would lose the reputation as being the weakest AQ conference. Other than Boise, there is nothing worth saving from the Mountain West. TCU represents the best of the Mountain West. The argument that the Mountain West is better than the Big East, thus TCU should stay in the Mountain West is dumb. The Mountain West is better than the Big East because of TCU.
Of course, we have to discuss money. It all boils down to money in the end (like everything else in life). Being in the Big East gives TCU a multiple of the money it receives now. All teams in AQ conferences automatically get money every year. My Congressman, Joe Barton, says it best in an editorial he wrote:
“…Let’s match up Texas Christian (Mountain West, non-BCS conference) versus Baylor University (Big 12, BCS conference). Here is the tale of the tape from 2005 to 2008:
TCU Horned Frogs: 37-10 regular season record; 4-0 bowl record.
Baylor Bears: 16-31 regular season record; zero bowl games (the university’s last bowl win was in 1992).
During that time, the two teams have squared off twice, with TCU winning both games. But thanks to the BCS, Baylor has been paid millions more than TCU by bowl games it never appeared in—simply because it is in a BCS conference.”
This is important as anyone who has been to Baylorfans.com knows that Baylor alumni love to brag about how much better their facilities are than TCUs. I like to brag about how much better TCU’s donors are because it has facilities that match schools in AQ conferences (though the political support is lacking). I like to lie awake and dream at night about how great TCUs facilities would be if it brought in AQ dollars and maintained the same (or increasing) levels of donor support. This dream could come true (and my dreams never ever come true – I’ve been waiting to get a date with Piper Perabo since I was 13).
A more important statistic. Data from The Sports Business Journal shows that each of the six AQ conferences received $22.2 million last year from the BCS. A total of $24 million was given by the BCS to the five non-AQ conferences, that’s a total to be split between five conferences. What’s even more offensive is that number would have been substantially lower had TCU and Boise not played in the Fiesta Bowl. TCU’s inclusion earned $9.75 million and Boise’s $4.5 million (why did Boise’s inclusion bring less incremental payout? I don’t know. But I bet it’s something evil and corrupt…). If you take away Boise and TCU from the BCS picture, the non-AQ conferences get $9.75 million to split between themselves (divide by five) and then split between the teams (divide by a large enough number to make you not care about the payout). Schools like Baylor get substantial payouts for doing nothing; actually they get it for fielding horrible football teams and being friends with UT in an AQ conference. This is one of the most unfair and unstable business/economic models I’ve ever seen. If I was a Tea Party member, I wouldn’t call President Obama a socialist. I’d call him a BCS. Whatever this BCS system is, it is much scarier than socialism (unless you’re Baylor).
But remember, if you can’t beat them – join them. As the YouTube video says, “I wanna know where tha gold at. Give me tha gold.” TCU can see where the gold is at. It’s time for TCU to get it some. I’m tired of TCU being the Buckinghams. I want my alma mater to be the Beatles.
The biggest and most important reason to join the Big East: dollar bills.