The conference shuffle continues. Texas A&M, for better or worse, is now part of the SEC. Syracuse and Pitt have weighed anchor and jumped to the ACC. Comes now the news that Texas Christian University (TCU), as successful a non-BCS football team as has played in recent years (if not nearly as hyped as Boise State or Utah), is flaking on its move to the Big East to join the Big XII instead. This gets the Big XII back to 10 members and preserves a modicum of viability, assuming they hang onto Missouri.
However, the Big East as a football conference is in serious jeopardy. The class of the remaining league in football is undoubtedly West Virginia, which has purportedly been rebuffed by SEC and ACC alike. Then you have Louisville and UConn, both top-flight basketball schools with occasionally passable football. Then Cincinnati, two years removed from a BCS berth but otherwise undistinguished in football and some distance from its Bob Huggins-led basketball success. Then South Florida and Rutgers, with little hope of hanging on.
Because that’s only six teams. By rule, a BCS conference must consist of no less than eight.
The Big XII may have saved itself for now with the TCU move, but the Big East is doomed, for BCS purposes. The ACC would be happy to pick off Louisville and UConn and cement itself as the ultimate power in college basketball. Maybe the SEC takes West Virginia after all, tired of the dithering from Mizzou and accepting that academic quality – indeed, quality in any aspect other than football – is no longer a critical criterion of SEC membership. Cincy, Rutgers and South Florida are officially left grasping for something else – maybe the Sun Belt or Conference USA, maybe continuing in a non-football Big East and making their way in some sort of alliance of independents (this is where Notre Dame might be able to lend a hand by adding those three to their football rotation).
Ultimately, though, it’s going to be like this: SEC/Pac-12/ACC/B1G (formerly Big Ten) are now the upper crust. The Big XII (-2) will struggle to stay afloat, and the new-look Mountain West Conference (featuring Boise State, Nevada, Fresno, Colorado State, Air Force and others) will probably grab the former Big East auto-bid. Expect the next round of the shakeout to involve the mid-major conferences – the WAC, the Sun Belt, the MAC and Conference USA – as they try to pick off Big East stragglers (and as some of their top-tier members try to battle their way up the ladder).
The key thing in all this, though, is that the current round of Russian Roulette all stems from Texas and their attempt to create their own network. They wanted all the benefits of independence while still owning the Big XII as their personal fief, and enough schools have rejected it that the Pac-12 and B1G are now at 12 and the SEC at 13…which compelled Syracuse and Pitt to escape while they could, which crippled the Big East and made TCU flee, which sank the Big East and set everything on tilt-a-whirl again…
Texas Roulette is just like Russian Roulette, only with a semiautomatic.