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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

You Complete Me

Earlier today TCU accepted a bid to join the Big East conference in all sports starting in 2012. As you know if you read this blog, know me from elsewhere on the internet, or know me in real life, this garnered a resounding cheer from me; I've been backing this move since any talk of conference shakeup began.

In an article written earlier today, Ivan Maisel, one of my favorite sportswriters and columnists, referred to this recent union as a shotgun wedding. With all due respect, I think there are other analogies I'd draw up before that one. Perhaps it's the case of a hot young woman marrying an old codger for money. Perhaps it's marrying the Russian tycoon in exchange for a green card. But make no mistake, it wasn't an outside force like a daddy wielding a shotgun or a state legislature forcing a game or a school's vote for expansion. Both sides knew exactly what they were getting from the deal and entered into it knowingly. As uttered in Jerry Maguire, the Big East said to TCU: You complete me.

I'm sure the fact that TCU is likely to be on the outside looking in at the national championship game helped make the decision, though it's worth noting that in this exact same situation, a Big East TCU squad would likely be in a similar situation. The fact that the Big East is sweating bullets as the latest assessment of BCS auto-bids didn't hurt either. But each has something the other wants. For TCU, it means that they can lose a game, maybe even a couple, and make it into the BCS as a conference champion. It means membership in a club they've had to work their asses off just to caddy for. And, of course, it means lots and lots of cash, and I'm sure that stadium renovation isn't cheap. For the Big East, it means balanced football scheduling. It means adding a proven winner. It means a huge media market and Texas recruiting. And it could very well save the Big East, as TCU's stats will come with them, making a poor conference look a good deal better, and most importantly, head and shoulders above the Mountain West--the conference that TCU is leaving--who will gain Boise State but will also lose Utah and BYU.

While there is no deep shared history, TCU will reunite with some if its old bandmates: The Horned Frogs used to share the stage with Cincinnati, Louisville, and USF when they were all members of Conference USA together. So as a USF alum, I certainly welcome them and look forward to competing with them again.

No one's saying the marriage will be all bliss. TCU has to deal with bringing their subpar basketball program into one of the strongest conferences. The Big East has to deal with scheduling an unwieldy 17 team conference. But in terms of being mutually beneficial, this union is that, in spades.
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