TCU’s move to Big East makes sense

The conference realignment frenzy began a few months ago when the Big Ten decided to pursue Nebraska from the Big 12. It now has come full circle as TCU will move to the Big East in 2012-13.

“I think it’s a positive move for us in every possible way, especially in baseball,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “The Big East has been a high rated RPI league the past few seasons and I think we’ll add to that when we join the conference.”

Geography majors around the country are trying to figure out how a small private school nestled in North Texas has found its way to the Big East. But when looking at the decision with a fine-toothed comb, the move makes plenty of sense from a football and baseball standpoint. Basketball? not so much.

TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte again illustrated his big-time vision with a move to the Big East.
(US Presswire)

As expected, football is the primary reason the Frogs are moving to the Big East. The Frogs could play for the national title this season and will earn a BCS berth. However, the fact the Mountain West doesn’t have an automatic BCS berth has been a sore subject for conference members the past few seasons.

The Big East provides security in football as the conference receives an automatic BCS bid. Though, it’s ironic the conference has an auto berth considering the two teams competing for the conference crown – Connecticut and West Virginia – have three or more losses, and will keep significantly better teams out of the BCS.

The move to the Big East also creates more exposure for the Horned Frogs. The Frogs often are dominated in media coverage in the state of Texas, and there aren’t an abundance of markets in the Mountain West. That isn’t the case in the Big East, where it has markets such as New York City, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Cincinnati and even Florida. That is besides the lucrative Dallas-Fort Worth market.

The move couldn’t be worse for TCU’s basketball program. Though the Frogs could get much better from simply having the Big East to recruit to, the prognosis isn’t good. TCU finished 5-11 in the much inferior Mountain West last season and is 3-2 this season. The Frogs only have made seven NCAA tournament appearances and last made the Big Dance in 1998.

What about the baseball program?

“I think moving to the Big East is an upgrade for our schedule,” Schlossnagle said. “The travel routes are the same, it’s just going east instead of west. I also like the direction the Big East is going in baseball.”

Consider the move to the Big East an upgrade. The Big East certainly had a reputation of being a below-average baseball conference a few seasons ago. However, the conference has made major strides with Louisville leading the way beginning in 2007.

The Big East finished last season with a Conference RPI of 6. In previous seasons, the league had RPIs of 10, 11 and 8, respectively, By comparison, the Mountain West (with TCU), has had RPIs of 10, 7, 15 and 18, respectively, from 2007 through last season.

TCU joining the league adds more credibility. The Horned Frogs reached the College World Series for the first time last season and they’re expected to compete for the national title again next season with the return of several star players. Unless coach Jim Schlossnagle leaves, the Frogs likely will enter the Big East as a national power.

The Frogs aren’t the only reason to be excited about the future of the Big East from a baseball standpoint. Louisville has reached the CWS under coach Dan McDonnell and is coming off a campaign that included a national seed. Connecticut is expected to compete for a CWS berth next season, St. John’s always is good with coach Ed Blankmeyer leading the way, Pittsburgh continues to make huge strides, and Notre Dame and South Florida have much potential.

Rutgers, West Virginia and Cincinnati are other programs with potential.

Where does TCU’s move to the Big East leave the Mountain West?

Without the Horned Frogs, the MWC will have six baseball-playing institutions: New Mexico, UNLV, Air Force, Nevada, Fresno State and San Diego State. Fresno State gives the conference some star power, but the league needs UNLV and San Diego State to rise to the occasion to meet expectations.

The Big East, meanwhile, should be ecstatic about adding TCU in baseball. The Horned Frogs are one of the greatest success stories of the past few seasons, becoming a national power with much competition inside their state and around the Southwest region. The Frogs also have made a strong commitment to baseball with a sparking facility.

Now, the Frogs head to one of the nation’s rising baseball conferences with name, location and already some prestige attached to their brand.

It’s a match made in heaven for both TCU and the Big East.

Kendall Rogers is the college baseball editor for Yahoo! Sports and Rivals.com. Follow him on Twitter and follow Yahoo! Sports College Baseball on Facebook. Send Kendall a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Monday, Nov 29, 2010