Keep looking.

Texas Christian University (TCU) is among the leaders among 12 schools being considered by the Big East Conference as the league attempts to protect its flanks, according to the New York Post.


Nice institution  in a football crazy state. Football program ranked No. 5 this week in both the Associated Press and USAToday/ESPN Coaches polls. Academically ranked among the top level universities by U.S. News & World Report.

  • TCU would immediately improve the conference scheduling dilemma while generating greater respect for the calibre of  Big East football. As far as TV markets, the Dallas/Fort Worth area is the fith largest in the country with over 2.5 million TV  households, according to Market Track.

However, there are some major negatives to be considered, not the least of which is its location in the southwest.  Increases in travel costs would be significant, especially for non-revenue sports.

While TCU might be a worthy opponent, the school has no natural rivalries with any Big East teams. TCU and Louisville were both in C-USA for a time. But the appearance of teams on the schedule had minimal impact in either Louisville or Fort Worth.

  • Even among the TCU faithful, there is a surprising concern about attendance. While going undefeated during the regular season in 2009, TCU averaged only 38,187 fans at five home games.
  • TCU recently announced a stadium renovation, which will actually reduce capacity from 44,358  to 40,000 seats — the placement of luxury seating cutting into other sections. Although the stadium could easily be expanded to 50,000 seats, one has to wonder why the supporters didn’t go ahead.

TCU’s long-term commitment to the Big East would be questionable from the get-go. TCU wanted to join the Big 12 during the most recent alignment discussions. There have been indications that the Texas legislature might want to get involved on behalf of some schools. Why not TCU?

Then there looms the possibility of the Pac 10, which despite its initial reluctance to add a private religious school, would suddenly see the light when tempted by buckets of Texas TV dollars.

If TCU officials are indeed having discussions with the Big East, the gut feeling here is that the primary motivation lies in improving its leverage elsewhere.

Probably true for both parties.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

19 thoughts on “TCU may be using Big East as leverage for real aspirations”
  1. I never felt TCU was anything special even though they were a tough opponent while we were together in C-USA. They have a hard core group of fans but they don’t travel very well. They would strengthen the conference, however, and would help with the scheduling situation. So I guess TCU would be a plus overall.

  2. The Texas Legislature would have little control over what a private school wanted to do. Those who know the TCU Board of Trustees know that they are an independent group who could care less what people think in Austin (either at the Capitol or at Tu)

  3. Charlie, what would TCU’s higher aspirations be? The Big 12? Texas is on record as saying they want to be keep membership at 10 teams. Gary Patterson has been quoted saying that TCU’s travel costs would be about the same as it is now in the MWC.

    The salient fact which keeps eluding our fans is that this isn’t about stadium attendance, it’s about TV markets. It will make it easier to sell a burgeoning Big East network by including The Dallas Ft Worth TV market in a state of 22 million; most of which, are football crazy. TCU helps both parties. Who knows what the landscape will look like in the next round of TV negotions. If TCU and the Big East are interested, get em here…quick I say.

    1. The discussion of TV sets was mentioned prominently in the post. It’s a factor that can’t be ignored. Didn’t say “higher aspirations,” just that their primary motivation lies in improving their leverage elsewhere.

  4. TCU upgrades the Big East –
    TCU has a long winning history and tradition – 2 NCs and 15 conference championships (compare that to Louisville who only has 7) – TCU conference championships include conferences in SWC (including a conference championship in 1994 – SWC broke up in 1995), WAC, CUSA, and MWC)
    TCU has excellent facilities
    TCU has a rich history of putting athletes into the NFL, second most in Texas (U. of Texas #1)
    TCU brings the central time zone and DFW market
    Fort Worth, TX is one of the most beautiful areas in the USA

    TCU has been strong against the Big East. Take for instance TCU vs. Louisville. TCU is 3-1 against Louisville.
    11-23-2001 Louisville 22-37 TCU Fort Worth, TX
    10-19-2002 Louisville 31-45 TCU Louisville, KY
    11-05-2003 Louisville 28-31 TCU Fort Worth, TX
    11-10-2004 Louisville 55-28 TCU Louisville, KY

    Louisville attendance 2009 was 32,450
    TCU attendance 2009 was 38,187
    Undefeated Big East champion Cincinnati attendance 33,957
    TCU had better attendance even though it only has around 8,000 undergraduates.
    TCU in 2010 has already sold out most of its home games this year and has sold out all or most of its away games allotments. TCU TRAVELS VERY WELL!

    Stadium: Amon G. Carter (1929) – $140M upgrades coming next year (was just $110M but expanding it to include East Side of stadium)- (will be able to hold 55K once all stadium phases are finished)
    Current Capacity: 46,000
    First Year of Football: 1896
    All Time Football Record 567-513-57

    Stadium: Papa John’s Cardinal (1998)
    Current Capacity: 55,000 (edit)
    First Year of Football: 1910
    All Time Football Record 442-428-17

    Hope TCU joins the Big East as TCU fans are looking forward in renewing a rivalry with Louisville.

    1. I don’t recall TCU fans making that big an impression at Papa John’s. I’ll have to admit they did do better than Syracuse and UConn. By the way, Louisville averaged over 40,000 during each of Bobby Petrino’s years at Louisville. Many less-than-loyal fans were trying to make a statement during Kragthorpe’s final season.

  5. TCU’s aspirations are to become an automatic qualifying team – to be apart of an historic conference and finally make roots in a conference where it can create rivals.

    Does Louisville want to stay in the Big East or do they have aspirations in being part of the Big 12 as some have speculated?

  6. Fan, we want the Big East to be a strong viable league that won’t be cherry picked every time one of the other BCS leagues want to expand. So with that said, I believe TCU helps the BE become a stronger league; however, if the Big 12 knocked on our door, we would be foolish not to invite them in. Just as TCU would do I imagine. If and when that ever happens UofL will continue to help try and make the Big East as strong as possible.

  7. Bring TCU, Memphis, ECU and So. Miss in and get it done with. Better to sting before you’re stung. The Big East is the girl in the short dress right now without a date.

  8. C’mon Charlie… arguments like “no natural rivals” and TCU’s history of jumping around are just silly. Louisville didn’t exactly have any real (football) rivals in the Big East before they moved in. And besides, wouldn’t you say that Louisville bailed on CUSA as soon as the BEast came a-calling? In this BCS world, you do whatever you have to to jockey for position… like UofL did in ’05. Likewise, TCU realized that CUSA had been weakened and left for the MWC.
    Sure, TCU has bounced around, but if UofL was in their position, would you have stuck around in a weakened conference? We were left with nothing after the SWC… then the strength of our new conference (WAC) bailed and CUSA looked like a step up… and then when Louisville decided it was too good for CUSA (despite that nice 1-3 record against TCU), we took the best option available. And we had almost no natural rivals during most of those moves.

    And the attendance issue is just the latest BS argument that you arrogant BCS-AQ schools like to use to maintain the illusion of superiority. You do realize that TCU only has a worldwide living alumni base of about 70k, right? It also doesn’t help that being such a large metropolitan area, we have to compete for press coverage and t-shirt fans with Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Texas Tech, etc, etc. We’re not a school that can fill half the stadium with the student body nor are we the biggest football draw in the state.

    Personally, I’m not sure I want my Frogs in the Big East anyway, since it doesn’t seem like much of an improvement, but hey, ya gotta do what ya gotta do to move up. Besides, since my mom’s entire family is from the Louisville area, I don’t need many excuses to go up for a few days… TCU would just be a nice bonus.

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