The conference realignment picture is coming into focus now, and it seems to indicate little but gloom for TCU. Texas and Tech are likely off to the mega-Pac, West Virginia is applying to the SEC and the ACC has ripped the guts out of the Big East (with some of the leftovers- Rutgets and Uconn eyeing the fifteenth and sixteenth slots). Are there best case scenarios? Absolutely. The SEC could pick us up in going to 16 to give A&M a travelling partner and stake their claim to the D/FW market or (my personal pet theory) if the Big Ten decides they want their choice of schools to get to 16 and snatch up Rutgers, UConn, Notre Dame (who would have to join a conference with the Big East's drop in prestige- and the superconferences may not be so happy to give Notre Dame a private seat at the big table when renegotiations ovvur) and Missouri- leaving the ACC to reach out to Texas- TCU and Houston.
However, what's more likely is that the Big Ten will sit on its hands for a while, anticipating that any school will always want to be a part of its glorious conference (even if it means paying a hefty ACC buyout), so there will be two or three possible conference homes available for the frogs, none of them perfect and likely none of them with the holy grail of our conference quest- an AQ bid. So, what's the best of the worst situation?
Mountain West 2.0- Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Renewing our budding rivalry with Boise State on an annual basis is a bonus, but the travel would still be a pain- even more so with Hawaii, Fresno State and Nevada coming on board. The Mountain West likely offers homes to Kansas/K-State/Iowa State to get to 14 and Baylor likely gets in along with Utah State to take the slate to 16. Expect awkward glances from the New Mexico and Colorado State heads at conference meetings though, as the MWC won't forget that we were happy to head to greener pastures.
Big Leftovers- The proud leftouts of the Big Twelve and Big East come together in an unholy necrotic alliance, our age old rivalry with Baylor is renewed and their fans no longer have anything to feel superior about conference wise (their victory from this year would quickly be forgotten as we tear them apart year after year once Griffin graduates). Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and Baylor together with Cincinnati, USF, Louisville and ourselves already put this conference head and shoulders above the MWC and CUSA talent wise, and it could likely be spruced up with a Boise State or a few of the CUSA schools (UCF, Houston, SMU) to get us to championship game numbers. We're left busting the BCS again, but in a conference that's strong enough where one loss doesn't mean Las Vegas.
Either way I see us lumped together with the whiners from Waco, and as much as I hate to see them land (relatively) well off, I think I'm okay with it. Personally, I think going back to the MWC would be a mistake if the Big Leftover conference does materialize- the travel will be much more manageable, it'll be a pretty top-tier basketball conference and may just have the commitment needed to outrank the ACC in the BCS AQ criteria- the ACC is getting bigger, but it's hard to say it's getting better football wise (and with Miami about to be nuked everyone outside of Florida State and Virginia Tech falls into the "pesky" category). It's not what we've been hoping for, but it may be what we're stuck with. May a meteor take out all of Pittsburgh while Jamie Dixon is out of town recruiting.