TCU accepts invite to Big East
Texas Christian University has accepted an invite to join the Big East for all sports.
TCU's board of trustees unanimously approved the invitation Monday to join. The move from the Mountain West Conference becomes official July 1, 2012.
While it doesn’t appear to make much sense from a proximity standpoint, the move is designed to add another football school — and a formidable one — to a Big East that has been lackluster recently on the gridiron. Unranked Connecticut (7-4) is in line to win the Big East title and get the conference's automatic BCS bowl berth with a win next weekend at South Florida.
''Access got easier, not the road,'' said TCU coach Gary Patterson, whose Frogs wrapped up their second consecutive undefeated regular season and Mountain West title with a 66-17 win at New Mexico on Saturday.
TCU (12-0) has become a football power recently and is ranked No. 3 in the current BCS standings. They went 12-1 last season, with their only loss coming to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl.
''Having BCS automatic-qualifying status was a priority for our football program and a great reward for the success we've had the last decade,'' TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte said in a statement.
TCU will become the conference’s ninth football school and its 17th basketball team. Villanova has also been extended an invitation for its football team to move up from the Football Championship Subdivision and join the conference, FOX Sports Southwest reported. The Wildcats are already a member of the Big East in other sports.
With the move to the Big East, the Frogs will be BCS busters no more. The Big East has one of the six automatic BCS slots for the five big-money games.
TCU is currently in line to play for a national championship chance if Auburn or Oregon lose next weekend. The Frogs may wind up in the Rose Bowl if Auburn and Oregon both win.
''Who would have thought five years ago that the guaranteed fallback position is, you're going to the Rose Bowl, and one loss you're in the national championship?'' Del Conte said. ''We're going to Pasadena, let's get fired up. We're going to the Big East, let's get fired up. ... It's a great time to be a Frog.''
But the Frogs might not have been headed to a BCS game without Boise State's loss Friday night in overtime at Nevada. Had the Broncos remained undefeated, there was a distinct possibility that the Broncos could have passed TCU in the BCS standings and been the only non-automatic qualifier school to get into one of the top-level bowls.
The Big East will be the fourth conference for TCU since the Southwest Conference broke apart after the 1995 season and the Frogs weren't among the Texas schools that became part of the Big 12.
TCU was in the WAC from 1996-2000 before going to Conference USA for four seasons and then joining the Mountain West in 2005.
''Located in one of the top five media markets in the country, TCU also enables the Big East to extend its media footprint, which already encompasses more than a quarter of the country,'' league commissioner John Marinatto said.
The pending departure of TCU continues a big shuffle for the Mountain West, which last summer announced that Boise State was leaving the WAC to join its league in 2011. That was expected to bolster the strength of the MWC and put the league in better position for possibly gaining an automatic BCS berth in the future. But now so much has changed.
Utah is leaving the Mountain West for the expanded Pac-12 and BYU is going independent. Fresno State and Nevada, and maybe Hawaii, are going from the WAC to the MWC in 2012 after TCU leaves.
Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich believes TCU is ''a great addition'' to the Big East, and has no problem with the league expanding so far west.
''Hey, the Big 12's got 10, the Big 10's got 12,'' Jurich said. ''Why should we be any different?''
The Associated Press contributed to this report.