TCU and WVU join the Big 12
On July first, TCU and WVU officially joined the Big 12. Find out what the two Universities will add to the conference.
The new Big 12 has arrived.
The TCU Horned Frogs and West Virginia Mountaineers joined the Big 12 Conference as of 12:01 a.m. July 1. WVU left the Big East where it had been participating in football since 1991, and all sports since 1995, while TCU, which was originally set to join WVU in the Big East before last year’s conference shuffling shenanigans, departed the Mountain West, which they had been members of since 2005.
TCU is finally leaving the football purgatory of non-automatic qualifier conferences and is looking to get a steadier stream of BCS game appearances...well, at least for the two years that the BCS is still in existence. The Horned Frog’s leap to the big leagues is long overdue. In their last 20 game vs. schools from BCS automatic qualifier conferences TCU football is 16-4 -- a streak which includes a victory in the 2011 Rose Bowl over a potent Wisconsin team.
The Frogs were an overall 11-2 last season and a perfect 7-0 in conference play which included a big win on the road against Boise State. TCU’s 2012 schedule is loaded with tough road games: Baylor, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, and Texas. They also play on the road against a still-trying-to-find-themselves SMU program, and one should never underestimate the importance of rivalry games. The Battle for the Iron Skillet is a great annual DFW-area rumble, and let’s not forget that last year the Mustangs beat TCU at home in overtime 40-33.
TCU will host Kansas State, who always seems to play the role of spoiler in the Big 12, as well as Texas Tech and their regular season closer against Oklahoma. The time has come to see if the Horned Frogs can translate their BCS-buster luck into week-in, week-out results in a strong football conference. With a pre-season ranking of 13 in the USA Today poll and 14 in the AP Top 25, TCU seems to be sitting pretty for their inaugural Big 12 season.
West Virginia is swapping one automatic qualifier conference for another by ditching the floundering Big East for the Big 12. The Big East has always been the black sheep of the BCS AQ conferences due to its relative weakness on the gridiron. The Big East is historically a basketball power conference, which is one reason why the Mountaineers may have jumped ship for the Big 12 even though they are geographically outside of traditional Big 12 territory.
WVU went 10-3 last year, capping off the season with a 70-33 flogging of Clemson in the Orange Bowl. The Mountaineers open the 2012 season with four straight home games, the last of which is against Baylor. The meat of West Virginia’s schedule is a six-week slugfest spanning weeks 4-10 with the only relief coming in the form of an Oct. 27 bye. WVU will start their gauntlet run against Baylor at home before back-to-back road tests against Texas and Texas Tech. They then return to Morgantown for home games against Kansas State and TCU prior to a Nov. 10 trip to Stillwater to play Oklahoma State.
WVU then gets Oklahoma at home before closing their year with two “easy” games against Iowa State and Kansas. West Virginia is sitting at number 17 in the AP’s pre-season poll and 18 in the USA Today poll making them more than worthy opponents for any Big 12 team.
Both TCU and WVU are excellent pick-ups for the Big 12 and will be better year-in, year-out competition than departing Texas A&M or Mizzou. I smell several opportunities for new and exciting rivalries between our two newest members and the old blood of the conference.
The addition of TCU and WVU help to bolster the conference, but that doesn’t mean the Big 12 will stop there. For the time being I’ll enjoy the 10 programs we have but that won’t keep me satisfied for long. After all, it’s right there in the name, Big 12. We are still two schools short of the dozen that we should be bringing to the party. Who could be next on the Big 12 radar?