That's DeLoss in the dress.
Just in case you missed it, yesterday afternoon around 6:00PM the TCU Horned Frogs OFFICIALLY became the, for now, 10th member of the inappropriately named Big 12 Conference. Once the invite came down the waiting game was merely a formality - the Board of Trustees has to approve a decision like this and they are required to give 72 hours notice before calling a meeting- but it was still fun for speculation. I'll be honest, I thought to myself a few times, "What if we say no?" The slap in the face would've been absolutely hilarious at first, but then I probably would've quit being a TCU fan altogether and joined a monastery to get away from it all. Because those of you who think TCU would be better off in the SEC, which was never an option EVER, are dum dum dummyheads. I have all the faith in the world in our program, but even Alabama and LSU have 3-4 loss seasons regularly. That thing is a BEATDOWN.
I'm not going so far as CDC did when he said that this invite demonstrated that, "dreams DO come true," but even a TCU fan such as myself who has only been around for the good times realizes how gratifying going into the Big 12 is, no matter the current state of affairs. Gil LeBreton wrote an article suggesting that TCU should've stayed in the Big East. I'm hoping he was just doing it to be a contrarian, something I respect, because my GOD that is the most idiotic thing I have ever read. Outsiders look at the Big 12 and think, "HA! That thing is about as stable as Lindsay Lohan at an open bar wedding." Admittedly, this very site has said the same thing. But truthfully speaking, as long as OU and UT are on board, the Big 12 isn't going anywhere and based on the six year agreement that was just signed, we're in good shape for the immediate future. This is our 7th Football season in the MWC, easily the longest we've been in a Conference since the SWC disbanded. It's not like standing on shaky ground has hurt us to this point. Regardless of what happens in six years, we'll be in a perfectly fine position, and much better than where we would be had we remained in the Big East to "fight the good fight."
So what does this mean going forward; most importantly, what does it mean for our pocketbook? Well, for one, it's going to be in the neighborhood of $5 million lighter in the form of an exit fee from the Big East, although that fee may be able to be negotiated down, according to the Star-Telegram. However, when you consider the vast discrepancy between what we currently make from the paltry MWC Television contract vs. What we will make in the Big 12, that'll be the easiest check this athletic department ever has to write. If I have my numbers correct, and PLEASE correct me in the comments if I am off base, the Big 12's current TV contract with ESPN and Fox that runs for over 10 years will pay each member school $17 million annually; the MWC's TOTAL contract for all schools was $8.5 million. I'm not an accountant, but that's a pretty savvy business move there, no?
However, that figure does come with the caveat that TCU is reportedly not a full revenue member until the 2015 season. The breakdown is as follows: 2012 - 13: 50%, 2013-14: 64%, 2014-15: 84%, 2015-16: 100%. You may balk at the fact that we're having to essentially wait our turn at the big kids table despite being a full member, but think about it: The current Big East Contract is for $200 million; the current Big 12 contract is for OVER $1.5 BEELION. Even 50% is loads more than we would've received in the Big East as a full blown member. The Big East wooed us with promises of an upgraded TV deal next fall to rival that of the ACC's freshly minted $1.86 billion over 12 years, but that's pretty much a laugher at this point. Even if the Big East is able to survive by getting to 12 members in football, with the loss of TCU, Syracuse and Pitt, there's about a 0% chance they come anywhere close to being competitive with the other 5 BCS Conferences in the pocketbook sense. The Big East's turning down of ESPN was, at the time, a bold yet reasonable move: The Big East is tired of weeknight games and with what will be NBC Sports trying to get into the CFB mix, it wasn't crazy to think that a major financial windfall was in order. However, just as it happened with the MWC, turning down ESPN can have major downsides and the Big East is learning that the hard way. I hope those guys make it, but I don't have a good feeling about it. I get that we're all trying to play devils advocate by finding reasons to pick apart joining the Big 12, but money should not be one of them.
As for the Big 12 Conference itself, what can we look forward to? Truth be told, until this Missouri thing works itself out, it's just a big waiting game. They are the only Conference member not to sign the 6 year tier I, tier 2 TV agreement and the only member not to vote on TCU becoming a member. The Tigers have shot themselves in the foot a little bit these past few weeks by insinuating that their desire is to join Big Ten but, since the Big Ten won't have them, they GUESS they'll join the SEC. Before that I think the SEC could've gone either way. Now? Well, Mizzou may want to rebuild the bridges they've burned in the Big 12 because the SEC isn't taking the perceived slight too well. In fact, as we were announcing our entrance into the Big 12, the SEC heads were meeting as well. Unfortunately for Mizzou, expansion was NOT one of the topics of discussion. If you think it sounds fickle and trite that the SEC would turn down Conference expansion because their feelings were hurt, may I direct you to Exhibit A, the Texas Agricultural and Mechanical Aggies? Big 12 Commish Check Neinas said yesterday that the Big 12 was not interested in further expansion at this time. We've all heard that before - pretty much up until last Thursday if we're being honest - but that information, as well as chatter from other Big 12 leaders, suggests that they expect Missouri to be around. And if they bolt? Well, I think Louisville says yes about as quickly as we did. Personally, I think the Big 12 will eventually get back to 12 teams and a lucrative Championship game. How they get there is anyone's guess.
Another question was, "Should we take further stadium expansion into account due to likely record numbers of ticket sales going forward?" Personally, I say no because the more seats we create the more opportunities the T shirt fans of other schools have of poaching them. No matter our Conference situation, we have a bit of a ceiling, fan base numbers wise. But then again, we're going to have a legion of T shirt fans of our own after this. It's an interesting proposition. I seriously doubt they're going to switch horses in the middle of a $160 million renovation, but I bet it's an issue that will be raised and worth keeping an eye on. Also interesting is that one of the big knocks on TCU was that the Big 12 already controlled the Dallas market so there was no reason to add us. A valid point, but a valid-er point: TCU drew more eyes from the Dallas area last year than Texas A&M. Yet another reason why the TCU/aggy situation is addition by subtraction for the Big 12.
Of course, the biggest question of all, and one that was the thesis of LeBreton's article is, "All we do is bitch about Texas and mock the Baylors and Tech's of the world for being in a Conference they run... so what does that make us?" Well, hate to break it to you, but UT pretty much runs shit, not only in the state but overall in college football. Did you catch the UT/OU game? Because it was the most blatant ESPN orchestrated pro-UT bullshit you've ever heard. ON THE AIR Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musberger - the biggest UT lap dog in the biz - OPENLY begged viewers to call their local cable provider to request the Longhorn Network. You would've had no idea you were witnessing the Longhorns getting their bootyholes firmly kicked up and down the football field had you not been watching. It was sickening.
But is it really any different than things have always been?
Look, we're never going to out recruit Texas. We just aren't. The school has too much going for it - huge stadium, huge fanbase, Austin, tradition, etc. But now that we can settle the matter ON THE FIELD EVERY SINGLE YEAR, plus take the, "Well, we're in the Big 12, they aren't" card off the table? I wouldn't feel so down about it. Unless I was Texas Tech or Baylor. Then I'd feel REALLY down about TCU being in the Big 12. And for those who think the LHN is the great Satan that will eventually destroy the Conference, a trivia question: Do you know who made the most money from Third Tier TV rights in the Big 12 last year? Kansas. KANSAS! Sure did them a lot of good on the football field, didn't it? All that's to say, like it or not, Texas is always going to have an inherent advantage over every other team in the state because, as much as it makes me gag, "They're Texas." The LHN isn't going to make a bit of difference in that regard. But now that we're on as even ground with them as we're ever going to be, don't be surprised if some of that luster wears off. Not ALL, but SOME.
Being in the Big 12 is what we've always deep down wanted. It's the fruits of our Top 10 finishes, BCS bids and, perhaps most importantly or at least the icing on the cake, overall showing in Pasadena. Now we have it. Enjoy it. Rub it in. We've finally broken through. And even if it isn't a permanent move, it's the move we had to make at this particular point in time. We're not going to come in and run the thing year one. We probably won't in years two or three, either, or at least not until we get some proper depth. But we will compete. We won't be a Baylor or an Iowa State, rising up every 15 years or so. We will mix it up. We will shock folks in Norman and Austin. And at the end of the day, we will be a better program for it. Go Frogs.