TCU joins Big East; Gross, Syracuse coaches praise move

first_img Published on November 29, 2010 at 12:00 pm Facebook Twitter Google+ Commentscenter_img Texas Christian accepted an offer Monday to become an all-sport member of the Big East conference. The school is the 17th member of the conference and will be its ninth school participating in football. The membership will become official on July 1, 2012, and TCU will begin play in the Big East in the 2012-13 academic year. ‘It is a great scenario for us,’ TCU football head coach Gary Patterson said in a press conference Monday. The move is one that will greatly benefit the conference’s slumping state as a football conference. The Horned Frogs are 12-0 and currently ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press poll and BCS standings. A loss by either Auburn or Oregon this weekend could vault them to the BCS title game. Overall, TCU has won 25 consecutive regular-season contests. For the Big East, TCU adds a budding powerhouse in football and increases the conference’s exposure to a large market in Texas. TCU also brings the fifth-largest national media market in Dallas/Fort Worth. ‘Our focus was to add a quality institution to our football membership,’ Big East commissioner John Marinatto said in a press conference. ‘And clearly, the tremendously successful TCU football team adds enormous strength to the Big East roster. The opportunity to add a member such as TCU as a full member was an opportunity our presidents and chancellors simply could not pass up.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder text And for TCU, the move ensures an opportunity every year to earn an automatic BCS bid. Until Boise State lost to Nevada last Friday, the Horned Frogs were likely out of the BCS picture. Multiple current Big East members, including Syracuse Athletic Director Daryl Gross, applauded TCU’s addition. ‘It’s a win-win,’ Gross said. ‘We get re-enhanced for football. They get re-enhanced for basketball.’ After a summer of realignment within the major conferences, Gross said the Big East is in ‘better shape’ than it was six months ago. ‘We have been talking about strengthening our conference for some time,’ Gross said. ‘For a number of months. … All we can do is control what we can do in our conference and try to strengthen and enhance it. And I think we’ve done a good job of doing that.’ Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor also praised the move through SU spokesman Kevin Quinn. ‘She is very supportive,’ Quinn said. The Big East has also extended an offer to Villanova to become the league’s 10th football member. That pending invite was reported in early September. For football, TCU’s benefits to the conference are obvious. But for basketball, the Big East gets a TCU program that has struggled in recent years. The Horned Frogs went 13-19 last season. They have not had more than 14 wins — or a winning season — since 2004-05, the lowlight of that stretch coming with a dismal 6-25 finish in 2005-06. And those facts were evident in SU men’s basketball head coach Jim Boeheim’s reaction to the news Monday. ‘This is a football decision,’ Boeheim said in a phone interview. Boeheim said he was not approached or notified of the move by anyone in Syracuse’s administration. But he said he supported the decision. ‘This is an administrative decision,’ he said. ‘They have to do what’s best for the university. The chancellor and the athletic director have to make these decisions with the best interests of the university at heart.’ How the Big East basketball conference shapes up depends on what happens in the months ahead. Boeheim said there are obvious possibilities of expanding to an 18-team league in basketball, but that depends on whether Villanova accepts a reported invitation into the conference. The Big East has an 18-game regular-season schedule, wherein there are three repeat games for each team. That format is based on television contracts with CBS and ESPN that both run through 2012-13. How TCU’s addition will affect that schedule is still to be determined. ‘If you go to 18, you’re probably looking at some kind of divisions,’ Boeheim said. ‘But all that has to wait until everything is decided.’ Jake Crouthamel, Syracuse’s athletic director from 1978-2005, echoed Boeheim’s overall sentiments. He said there were obvious advantages in adding a current top-five football program to a struggling conference. It also made sense for scheduling purposes, as each of the current nine Big East football teams will now play an equal four home and away games in conference play. This will eliminate the unbalanced schedule. ‘On the surface, it’s a curious move,’ Crouthamel said in a phone interview. ‘But when you look at it from a standpoint of trying to gain back — and I emphasize ‘back’ — some degree of credibility in football in the BCS, where (the Big East) has not done well recently, going after a football program with the quality of TCU is certainly understandable.’ But at the same time, Crouthamel said the addition does not make much sense for other sports, especially Boeheim’s men’s basketball program. He said it was ‘curious’ from the perspective of all sides — TCU, Syracuse and the rest of the Big East — to add such an expensive trip to all sports. But in the end, he said he trusted that the Big East’s administration took every factor into account before making the final decision. And ultimately, the prospect of adding a current top-five football program made that final decision a relatively easy one. ‘There was a lot of movement (this summer), and the speculation was that the Big East would be devoured and torn apart,’ Gross said. ‘At the end of the summer, the Big East was still standing. We were able to survive, but better than that, now we’ve moved forward.’ [email protected]last_img read more