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College Football purgatory is upon us, so what does this mean for TCU?

Exploring the best case scenario for TCU in a world of college football chaos.

Syndication: The Oklahoman Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman via Imagn Content Services, LLC

In case you haven’t seen one of the millions of reports blowing up the internet right now, Texas and Oklahoma are leaving the Big 12 to join the “prestigious” SEC, or at least that’s what all the signs are pointing to at this moment.

This may be the most electric college football offseason of all time. First the College Football Playoff committee finally came to their senses and are considering a 12-team playoff expansion, then the name, image, and likeness era began and is off to a banging start, and now this? What a roller coaster summer, and we’re just getting started.

There is so much to unpack here that I genuinely have no clue where to begin. The timeline on when said conference transition could take place is up in the air considering no official statement has been made by either university in question. Also, an immediate move would require roughly $80 million in buyout fees from each school.

Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger reported that both OU and Texas are “prepared to wait until their grant of rights expires in 2025 to join the SEC,” which would mean no buyout fee and a delayed transition. Though at the same time, 247 sports Chip Brown reported that the universities are set to inform the Big 12 THIS MONDAY that they will not be renewing their grant of rights agreement with the conference and would make the transition as soon as possible.

I highly, highly doubt either university would opt to wait until their grant of rights expires 4 years down the road considering they would likely make it up with one year of revenue in the SEC.

As Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman reported, this move is “almost done” and could be finalized within the week.

To make things worse, OU and Texas initially made the decision to leave the Big 12 back around December/January meaning this process has been ongoing for the past six months or so, according to Stadium’s Brent McMurphy.

Snakes. Everyone involved in this secret treason against the Big 12 should be put behind bars immediately. Of course I’m being dramatic, but the fact of the matter is there is really no valid reason to make this move other than money, money, and more money. There is no NCAA governing body or legislation that could veto this conference switch and universities are essentially instructed to act in their own self interest, which is exactly what the Longhorns and Sooners are doing here.

Personally, I don’t see why either team would want to break up the Big 12, but I can see why Oklahoma wants to play SEC football. Texas?… Not so much.

The Sooners have won six consecutive conference championships and are in the playoff discussion nearly every season. They’ve proved themselves as one of the top programs nationwide (clearly above the rest of the Big 12 unfortunately) and want to compete with the other top programs such as Alabama, LSU, Georgia and other SEC blue bloods because, well, why not?

Texas on the other hand should be embarrassed. First off — I’m sure you’ve heard this a million time but I’ll say it again — Texas is a whopping 2-7 against TCU since the Frogs joined the Big 12 in 2012. In that same time span, Texas has more losses to Kansas (1) than they do Big 12 championships (0), or even championship game appearances for that matter.

The Longhorns football program has been on the decline ever since their 2010 national championship loss. Charlie Strong couldn’t help, Tom Herman surely didn’t do much to restore their historic image, and Matthew McConaughey can only be so handsome. Not even an impromptu post-game “we’re baaaaack” speech could boost the burnt oranges’ spirits. So why on god’s green Earth does Texas believe playing in the SEC would have any benefit for the longevity of their program?

Furthermore, who told Texas they would be able to compete with Alabama and Georgia when they can’t even beat little ol’ TCU?

If this is what the Longhorns want, so be it. Have fun going 2-10 in the SEC every year with those ever-so-sought-after wins against Vanderbilt and, well, nevermind... make that 1-11 every year.

Regardless of what this means for OU and Texas, regardless of what this means for the SEC’s future; what does this mean for TCU?

What does this mean for TCU?

I don’t want to promise anything, but Horned Frog fans have no need to worry; we’ll be just fine. The only variable in this chaos will be making the right move at the right time, but I have full faith in Jeremiah Donati and the rest of the athletic department to lead us to the promised land.

You might be wondering, what exactly is “the promised land” in this scenario? There are a ton of different opinions floating around the Twittersphere, but objectively the best option for TCU is to seek refuge in the PAC 12 and to do so immediately. The Horned Frogs along with the rest of Big 12 teams need to start acting on the premise that the Big 12 is over.

As much of a horizontal move it would be for TCU, leaving one Power 5 conference for another (or I guess, power 4?), it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that the Frogs’ days in the Big 12 are likely over.

The Big 12 has been good to us. Very, very good to us. Non-revenue sports have been thriving with that Big 12 money, campus is flourishing with remodels and new buildings nearly every semester, and fans have absolutely LOVED competing against fellow Texas programs as well as restoring a rivalry with Baylor. There’s no sugar coating it, any sort of move by TCU will be bittersweet after this past decade.

After being the little guys for so long, or the “little sisters of the poor” if you will, it was amazing to finally be in the conversation with the big dogs (even if one of those conversations jibed us from a playoff appearance).

As time goes on and more updates are released on this situation, the more of a “blow it all up” mindset I’ve had. The Big 12 is not salvageable. Now is not the time to be sentimental, now is the time to scramble.

As former West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck said after originally joining the Big 12 after the collapse of the Big East: “It was a game we likened to musical chairs. You don’t want to be the one standing when the music stops.”

Chaos is soon to ensue and you bet your ass the Horned Frogs won’t be left in the dust. DFW is an incredibly favorable market for TV ratings and recruitment purposes and I see no reason as to why another major conference wouldn’t jump with joy at the thought of adding TCU to their roster.

There have been rumors that the American Athletic Conference will act as aggressors in the coming days, seeking to beef up their roster with the reminiscence of what once was the Big 12. If this turns out to be true, TCU better run like hell and never look back.

A drop down to the AAC would be devastating in every way, shape, fashion or form even if they were to successfully recruit other Big 12 schools. I’m hoping for this rumor to either die out or the Big 12 to rightfully laugh in the AAC’s faces.

With all of this being said, I’ve devised what I believe to be the best case scenario for TCU first and foremost along with the rest of the College Football world. Without further Adieu:

Pretend like the Big 12 doesn’t exist

Because it doesn’t.

The possibility of recruiting programs like BYU, Cincinnati, UCF, or even SMU for that matter shouldn’t even be an option. If this were the case, the level of competition in the Big 12 would be severely diminished and the other four major conferences would certainly see us as the weakest link (because we would be).

As I mentioned previously, it’s every man for himself right now and it’s time for Big 12 programs to begin a search for their new home if they haven’t done so already.

247 Sports insider Jeremy Clark reported that TCU, Texas Tech, Baylor, and Oklahoma State have contacted the PAC 12 to gauge interest, so the process may be well underway by now.

The monster that is the SEC

With the addition of Texas and Oklahoma, the SEC would be the first conference to expand to 16 teams. Of course this would call for some scheduling concerns considering there are only 12 regular-season games a year, but the assumed plan would be to split the conference into four pods of four.

This is a super conference of the likes the college football world has never seen. 16 teams? Four pods of four? Is this the SEC or the NFC?

Ironically all of this conference news broke shortly after the College Football Playoff committee moved forward with their 12-team playoff expansion plans. Without the Big 12, there is only four major conferences. Four conference champions = four playoff spots. All the bias of the committee debating who deserves the final spot would be removed.

Regardless, the 12-team playoff system is far superior to a four-team format, though now I’m concerned that more than half of those 12 spots will be filled by SEC schools year in and year out with the expected conference realignment.

This “new and improved” conference will absolutely dominate TV ratings and pull in a metric butt-ton of money, so one can only wonder how this will affect national recruiting amongst power five programs.

We’ve already seen a shift in the blue-chip ratio since the playoff format was introduced, but now with a 16-team SEC to go along with full NIL freedom, the SEC may as well sign every five-star recruit in the coming years.

One more thing: I’ve seen some college football fans speculating on Texas A&M’s future debating whether or not there is a chance they leave the SEC. I’m here to tell you, the Aggies can be as angry as they want, but there is no chance they leave their current situation.

Goodbye Big 12, Hello PAC 16

As weird as it may seem, the PAC 12, or likely soon-to-be PAC 16, is the best case scenario for the Horned Frogs. This is the clear-cut path to maintaining elite status in the college football world as well as maintaining a nearly equal annual revenue.

Sure this would stretch out TCU’s traveling throughout the season, but if Horned Frog fans had to travel anywhere for away games, why not the west coast where a large portion of alumni and students reside?

I can picture it now: night games under the lights of Rose Bowl Stadium, Gary’s defense silencing the crowd at the Colosseum, a small but mighty sea of purple helping sell out Autzen Stadium; it’s all so beautiful.

Of course playing away games on the west coast would mean dealing with Pacific Standard Time TV scheduling, aka 8:00 and 9:00 p.m. kickoffs. If that’s not your thing, to each their own, but I know for sure I would much rather be tailgating at 9:00 p.m. in the cool California breeze rather than dragging my way through beer pong for an 11 a.m. kickoff with Baylor’s toilet bowl of a stadium as my view.

From a student’s perspective, there is a reason people say the C in TCU stands for California. A solid 40% of our student body stems from the West Coast and California in particular. Some of these away games would be an excuse to visit family for a lot of TCU students which would only further strengthen the universities geographical connections for both athletic and academic recruiting purposes.

Besides, we all know TCU would run the PAC 12 on a good year (*cough cough next season*), so I think this move could be a lot of fun long-term.

With TCU in the PAC 12, that still leaves three spots to form a full 16-team conference to match the SEC. Who else to fill those spots besides Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Texas Tech? They will also need a new home after the Big 12 inevitably dissolves and I don’t see any reason as to why the PAC 12 would not want to expand their market down south.

One thing I know about the PAC 12 is that they hold themselves to a “high academic standard.” So basically TCU and Baylor are fine, but Texas Tech may be in trouble...

Anyways, here’s what the new PAC 12 would look like under this newly formulated pod system:

  • POD A: Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State
  • POD B: Stanford, California, UCLA, USC
  • POD C: Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State
  • POD D: TCU, Baylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State

I designed these pods based on location, but as we’ve learned in recent events geography doesn’t seem to matter in college football, so who knows.

It may not be all sunshine and rainbows, but Texas and OU leaving will not be the end of anything for TCU athletics.

Big 10 or the Big 16?

With over half of the Big 12 split up already in this hypothetical situation, it only makes sense for the Big 10 to expand to 16 teams as well. The most logical answer, in my opinion, is to send Kansas and Iowa State to the Big 10.

Of course Kansas would just be another Rutgers football wise, but their basketball program may end up saving the future of their athletics department as a whole. Iowa State on the other hand is an up and coming football program which has the potential to compete in an Ohio State dominated conference. Who wouldn’t want the Cyclones right now?

Here’s what the new “Big 16” may look like:

  • POD A: Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State
  • POD B: Maryland, Rutgers, Penn State, Wisconsin
  • POD C: Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue, Minnesota
  • POD D: Iowa State, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska

I know this isn’t a perfect rendition, but this is mostly for an idea of what seems to be the future of college football as we know it.

Time for Notre Dame to grow up and join the ACC

I could care less about Notre Dame’s ridiculous pride for being one of the only independent football teams in the country. Either get on the train or get left at the station.

Along with Notre Dame, I would slide in West Virginia to form a 16-team ACC; the fourth and final super conference.

Maybe I’m just a sucker for geography, but Pittsburgh, Louisville, Virginia, and Virginia Tech are all much closer to the Mountaineers than any of their current big 12 opponents, so it makes sense. Not only would WVU be a solid addition football wise, but they would be joining arguably the best basketball conference in the country alongside blue blood programs like Duke and North Carolina.

Adding Notre Dame and West Virginia would certainly create a more competitive environment in the ACC considering Clemson has reigned supreme for the last decade. Notre Dame needs to do what’s best for the greater good of the sport and join a conference for goodness sake. The Fighting Irish already play five ACC schools a year and also have a contract agreement that binds them to the ACC and the ACC only if their football team decides to join a conference.

I am deeply sorry to any Wildcat fans out there, but this scenario leaves Kansas State without a home. I don’t think the Big 10 will have room for them and would likely prefer Kansas and Iowa State as their first options in general. Another scenario would place Kansas State in the ACC assuming that Notre Dame remains stubborn about being independent, but that seems to be highly unlikely at this point in time.

This may be a bit more complicated, but considering the chaos that’s already begun I wouldn’t rule anything out. If Rutgers were to make a move over to the ACC, that would leave room for West Virginia to move to the Big 10 and send Kansas State to the ACC potentially while Notre Dame remained independent.

I know that doesn’t make any sense but none of this makes sense. We’re in college football purgatory.

Although nothing is 100% certain at this point in time, the SEC is expected to vote on the initiation of Texas and Oklahoma sometime next week with the outcome expected to be 13-1, according to Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman. I’m sure we can all guess who that one vote belongs to.

Whatever happens in the coming weeks, I have full confidence that TCU will find their place in a rapidly evolving college football landscape.