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TCU to join the Big East in 2012

I for one welcome our new Texan overlords.

The Big East momentarily propped up its status as the sickly and endangered automatic bid conference today by adding TCU for all sports (the conference first tried to add TCU for football only, which they rejected). While the conference has not always been as bad on a yearly basis it proved to be in 2010, adding a premier football program like TCU clearly will strengthen conference football for now, and scheduling around eight conference games is far easier than seven. The Big East finally did something right for a change.

The move is not without its drawbacks and risks. Dallas is the nation's fifth largest television market, but now TCU will have to hope that its increased conference payout (I'm sure John Marinatto is trying to renegotiate with ESPN as you read this) will make up for their increased travel costs. That's less of a program for four conference road football dates, but will be an issue for basketball and non-revenue sports.

I'm interested in what Dave and Shawn have to say on the basketball end, considering that football was the primary driver here. The Big East is already too big and unwieldy, and now it's going to seventeen teams.

The move is welcomed by the football schools but the basketball schools are grumbling. The addition of two more programs will make scheduling more difficult and could diminish existing rivalries.

"Now we might get to play some schools once every three years,’’ said one basketball coach who wished to remain anonymous.

Adding a weak program like TCU clearly weakens the Big East for basketball, although that may not necessarily be a bad thing. Somebody has to lose the games, and hopefully TCU joins USF and DePaul as perennial punching bags going forward. At least they'll be good at baseball.

Could the Big East end up just plain too big and unwieldy though? Presumably one basketball team (barring more additions) will have to stay home from the tournament in MSG, and scheduling will be more problematic.

A source told's Andy Katz that in a 17-team league, each program would play every other team (16 games) and then play two repeat games (instead of three like now).

Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim is already floating the possibility of future changes.

Boeheim said he would not oppose breaking the Big East into basketball divisions, a possibility that would become more realistic if the Big East were to expand to 18 teams.

That would constitute a split in all but name. In that scenario, which could come to pass if Villanova doesn't upgrade their football program to the FBS level, the most likely scenario is adding UCF (with Lenn Robbins from the NY Post saying that C-USA members ECU and Memphis have no chance at membership). Poor, poor Temple.