October 06, 2011
TCU has been affiliated with five different leagues the past 17 years, so ex-Horned Frogs coach Billy Tubbs certainly wasn't surprised to learn Thursday that the school was on the move again.
The difference this time, however, is Tubbs believes TCU has found the ideal fit.
TCU's decision to join the Big 12 next year instead of the Big East is one Tubbs believes will benefit the school's long-suffering basketball program.
Either option would have helped the Horned Frogs attract recruits interested in playing in a major conference, but the Big 12 is far more appealing to kids in Texas and surrounding Midwestern states. Instead of annual 1,500-mile treks to Providence, St. John's and UConn, TCU can now renew old rivalries with Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor and play its road conference games in its own time zone.
"I think the Big 12's a lot better for them than the Big East, that's for sure," Tubbs said. "In my opinion, that's where TCU has always wanted to be and that's where they belong. I'm just happy for them that they're where they deserve to be."
In the 12-plus years since TCU last made the NCAA tournament under Tubbs in 1998, the Horned Frogs have rarely been competitive in basketball. They went a woeful 1-15 in the Mountain West last season and 11-22 overall, meaning they still have not finished above .500 in conference play since their final season in the WAC in 2001.
The coaches TCU has hired since Tubbs have left much to be desired, but Tubbs said the constant conference shifting has hurt the program more than anything. Since the demise of the Southwestern Conference in 1996, TCU has been a member of the WAC, Conference USA and the Mountain West, then agreed to join the Big East in 2012 before reneging in favor of the Big 12 instead.
"All the changing around of conferences TCU has done since the demise of the Southwest Conference has hurt basketball more than any other sport," Tubbs said. "They were never on TV enough in the markets they were trying to recruit to do the job they needed to do. Those conferences were never a great fit for TCU."
Like everything else regarding conference realignment, the Big 12's decision to invite TCU had little to do with basketball. The Horned Frogs' decade of football success and the Big 12's need for new members in the wake of Texas A&M, Colorado and Nebraska's departure made this a natural fit.
TCU will surely struggle in its first couple years in the Big 12, but Tubbs believes the school can be competitive by year four if either Christian or a new coach capitalizes on the new recruiting advantages.
"They'd have gotten buried in the Big East," Tubbs said. "Being in the Big 12 will help their recruiting more than being in the Big East, and that's what it's all about."