Below, I am going to take a look at a few different scenarios for the Frogs. But before I do, I just want to say this. TCU is still an up & coming athletic department with a solid football program and sterling new facilities being built at a rapid pace. It's located in one of the biggest media markets in the country and in prime recruiting country. We're going to be fine. I'll admit that our prospects aren't as bright as everyone's- but they are a lot brighter than many others'.
I'd like to take a look at a few possible scenarios for TCU, but first I think it's necessary to eliminate some of the fantasy dreamworld stuff that clouds the brains of 97% of college football fans in this country. I'm generally an optimistic thinker, and even though I've definitely had some overly-hopeful brainstorming sessions in which I rationalize the Frogs somehow ending up in the Pac "16", the SEC or the ACC, I'm not going to waste your or my time walking you through them.
Here are a few scenarios that I think are within the realm of possibility:
TCU to the Big 12
Why it might happen: Texas, the 800lb gorilla and unofficial president of the Big 12, has at least publicly said that they want the Big 12 to survive. If they can convince Oklahoma, Missouri et al to stay with them, the remaining nine will look to add one (to get back to ten) or three (to get back to twelve and accurate naming) to stabilize. In the past, the league has stated they'd like to look to new markets for expansion, but in their current and vulnerable state they might be willing to add another Texas team. One rumor has TCU, BYU and Louisville joining the league, while Houston has also been mentioned. A week ago many among the TCU faithful might've had a mind to tell UT & friends to go eff themselves, but that has obviously changed.
Why it won't: Admit it, you're waiting for the news at any minute that the Big 12 is officially dead. When everyone is looking for a way out, it's probably over. Even if they do somehow survive all of this, the Big 12 extending an invite to TCU isn't a given.
My verdict: This is one worth keeping an eye on, because I have a feeling that the whole Pac 16 thing may not happen without Texas. But the chances of it happening are pretty low.
The Big East backfills
Why it might happen: This league has done it before. When they lost Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College in 2005, they went out and plucked Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida from Conference USA. Despite it's weakened status after the latest departures, it does still have an automatic BCS bid (at least for now) and is still one of the best basketball conferences in the country. There are still a lot of teams that would probably still like to join- Baylor, Iowa State, Houston, Central Florida, SMU, Memphis, etc, etc.
Why it won't: For the same reason that the Big 12 won't: this league looks like it's on life-support now. UConn is all but literally on its knees publicly begging for a spot in the ACC, and you have to assume every other school is either doing the same as them or the same as TCU. I would bet that even the basketball-only schools like Marquette and Georgetown are planning an escape route.
My verdict: There's a distinct possibility that this one comes to fruition, and even though this "Super CUSA" would assuredly lose its BCS status, TCU could take a leadership role in selecting the new members in order to make lemonade of the lemon. Likely gone would be the thought of putting 40,000+ in the stands every week and playing in BCS bowls on the reg, but the Frogs could very much continue their march to athletic prominence. Do remember that the Fiesta Bowl appearance, the Rose Bowl win and all of the progress made already was done without BCS status.
Big 12/Big East merger
Why it might happen: The hulls of both of these conferences are taking on a lot of water, so you've got to think that building a new boat together is more appetizing than approaching a lesser conference with hat in hand. I'm sure that the geographic disparity could be overlooked for what could be a decent football league and a good basketball league that might fetch decent TV money.
Why it won't: With the ACC looking to expand further, how many teams from these conferences will even be left- especially if the Big Ten and SEC decide to join the ACC and Pac 12 in the race to 16? If too many more teams leave either league, this may be moot.
My verdict: This is the most likely scenario, and I think the question is just how exactly this new league might look. If you took the seven Big East schools left after Pitt/Syracuse and the five Big 12 schools left after the rumored Pac 16 formation, you'd have a western division of TCU, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa State and an eastern division of West Virginia, Cincinnati, Louisville, South Florida, UConn and Rutgers. Add in Notre Dame and maybe a few others for basketball and you might have yourself a BCS league with a healthy TV contract. But of course, there could be some of those members picked off by further ACC expansion or even the Big Ten or SEC. Even if that's the case, you could plug those holes and still possibly preserve BCS status.
TCU asking the MWC or CUSA for another chance
Why it might happen: If all of the power leagues go to 16 members and the Frogs aren't included in one, independence is just not an option. TCU needs a conference home, even if it means the horribly awkward situation in which we go back to a conference we previously dumped.
Why it won't: I honestly believe that one of the above scenarios will happen, if not something even better and currently unimaginable.
My verdict: This is purely a worst-case scenario, and I don't think things will come to this. If they did, though, I'd imagine either league would eventually decide to take the Frogs back.