TCU has been a successful, valued member of the Mountain West for six years, winning three conference championships since 2005 and roughly tripling the MWC's annual payout to all nine members by earning back-to-back bids to BCS bowls the last two seasons. Naturally, the other members are jumping at their first chance to put the screws to the Horned Frogs before they officially hop to the Big East next year.
TCU is scheduled to host newcomer Boise State in Fort Worth this fall, the first and only Horned Frog-Bronco matchup as Mountain West rivals before the former exits the league. This season also happens to be the last season in the crucial 2008-11 BCS evaluation period, the results of which will be fed into a formula to determine which conferences get one of the coveted automatic berths in the big money bowls for their respective champions beginning in 2013. The Mountain West desperately wants to be one of those conferences, and it gets to claim the successes of both Boise State and TCU over the 2008-11 evaluation period. Last year, however, was the start of another evaluation period, encompassing 2010-13. The MWC gets to count Boise State's record as part of its own numbers, but not TCU's: The Horned Frogs' record in that span will be transferred to the Big East – the conference whose automatic bid the Mountain West hopes to take for itself.
Ergo, the Mountain West as a whole actually has a strong rooting interest this fall in seeing its reigning overlord dethroned by its newest addition. And to help their cause, conference athletic directors are strongly considering moving the Boise-TCU game to the blue turf in Boise, where the Broncos have won 56 of 57 games since 2001. Oh: And TCU, as an outgoing member, doesn't have a vote.
For some reason, TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte thinks that arrangement is just slightly unfair:
"It's our home game and they told us it would be our home game and to change the rules midstream is not appropriate," Del Conte told ESPNDallas.com by phone from China, where he's visiting this week. "I'm hoping they do what we originally said, which was that it would be a home game for TCU. To me to change it is not right, but that's been the discussion."
"We've been a valued member of the conference," Del Conte said. "I don't think just because we're going to the Big East for a different opportunity that we should be treated differently."
The ultimate decision falls to university presidents of the member schools, who meet next month. Something tells me that when the potential dollar figures start flying across the conference table, their idea of the "appropriate" course of action may not be the same as Del Conte's.
- - -
Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.