Big East Approves Football Expansion; TCU Saying The Right Things

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Big East Expansion: TCU Saying The Right Things

According to SportingNews.com:

TCU Athletic Director Chris Del Conte says he has little interest in placing his football program in one conference and the school’s other varsity sports in another.

“We’re an athletic department,” he said in a telephone interview with Sporting News. “Whatever endeavor we do, you’re united as one. That’s who we are. That’s how we always compete. We compete as one unit.”

“My sole job is to provide the wind beneath the wings for our teams to compete for championships, whatever that may be,” he said. “I will always look at the things we need.”

“It’s a lot of rumors,” he said. “It reminds me of high school. Who are you asking to go to the prom? Nothing has been done yet.”

“From my perspective, there are a lot of teams in AQ conference that never, never have a shot at a BCS bowl game. We have a chance.”

As predicted by SB Nation New York, it’s going to take a lot of bending by both parties — the Big East Conference and TCU — for this marriage to work.

If TCU continues at its current pace and possibly enters the BCS title game without the Big East, the Horned Frogs have leverage and basically can wait for a better offer from another BCS conference.

However, if four teams — TCU, Boise State, Auburn and Oregon — all end the season undefeated but the Tigers and Ducks are the ones playing for a national title. The leverage swings toward the Big East.

The problem is nobody knows for sure if TCU is the Big East’s No. 1 target. It’s assumed they’re because they have a quality football program, which doesn’t play in a conference with an automatic BCS invitation — something the Big East has.

That’s why TCU and Del Conte are answering these questions. So far, they’re saying the right things. The Horned Frogs are addressing questions in a professional manner, shying away from the “he said, she said” rumors, soaking up all the media coverage they can and winning football games — by a lot of points.

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Big East Expansion: TCU AD Del Conte, "We Have A Long Ways To Go"

On Sunday, the New York Times posted a column on its website which featured sports writer Pete Thamel asking TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte what’s the possibility of the Horned Frogs becoming one of the two new members of the Big East conference.

“From my perspective, we have a long ways to go,” Del Conte responded on Saturday. “We’ve done zero work or analysis on the situation because nothing has happened to a point to have that conversation. All you have is massive whispers.”

Thamel offered his opinion on adding TCU, currently the No. 3 team in the BCS standings:

TCU would certainly help, and the arrangement would be mutually beneficial, giving the Horned Frogs two things they lack now — the ability to automatically qualify for a BCS game by winning the league and better visibility. (The Mountain West’s television contracts have limited league’s exposure.)”

Thamel also mentioned that Central Florida and Villanova were viable options for the Big East.

“(Villanova) has an inside track on one of those two slots if it decides to move up to the Football Bowl Subdivision… Villanova won the Football Championship Subdivision national title last year. And since it is already a Big East member in other sports, and offers the Philadelphia market, it would be an easy choice.”

“Central Florida, in Orlando, makes more geographic sense than TCU, and it offers a top-20 television market.”

For the next several months there will be rumors and speculation about who is going to be the new additions.

Who do you think the Big East will add?

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Big East Approves Football Expansion Plans; TCU Possible Target

The Big East Conference unanimously approved the process to explore expansion on Monday.

In a press release on the conference's website, the Big East announced its plans to increase the number of football-playing members from eight to 10. The Big East is currently the smallest BCS football conference.

"Today, our Board of Directors affirmed a set of key strategic initiatives, including expansion, designed to enhance membership stability and maximize our value," stated Commissioner John Marinatto.

According to ESPN.com's Big East Blogger Brian Bennett, the schools rumored to possibly join the Big East are: TCU, Villanova, Central Florida and Houston. From Bennett:

Tuesday's announcement was hardly out of the blue. While many fans criticized commissioner John Marinatto for not doing anything during the summer conference madness, the Big East has been quietly mapping out its future strategy. It hired former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue as a consultant to help look into, among other things, the formation of a possible TV network. There have been preliminary discussions already about Villanova moving up and with TCU. This was merely a formal approval of that process and an acceleration (and getting a majority on board in a 16-team league where half the membership doesn't play football could not have been easy).

This is the right move by the Big East, and as I wrote in my mailbag earlier Tuesday, going to 10 teams now is smarter than expanding to 12 and adding a championship game. For one, I'm not sure there are four viable candidates for new members out there. You also have to consider the non-football side of things; if Villanova moves up that means only one more program will actually be added to the basketball and Olympic sports alignment.

What the league needs to do now is make sure it's not expanding just to expand. It needs to find new schools that actually add to the league and make it more competitive nationally.

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