Texas Christian joining the Big East Conference makes as much sense as ... well, it doesn't make any sense.
A small, private university in Fort Worth, TCU has pretty much nothing in common with the Big East's eight current football members. TCU is located at least 1,000 miles from five of the Big East football members and a whopping 1,551 miles from league headquarters in Providence, R.I. About the only similarity between the Horned Frogs and the Big East schools is they play football.
But again, there's another major difference: TCU actually is very, very good. The Big East's football teams ain't so hot right now.
Yet despite everything they don't have in common, this is still a long-distance affair that could work. In fact, TCU and the Big East are perfect for each other because they each desperately need each other.
And if last summer's conference musical chairs taught us one thing, it's that these are desperate times in college athletics. And the Big East is prepared to take desperate measures: such as invite a small Texas university.
Two weeks ago, the Big East announced it would expand its football membership from eight schools to 10. Big East Commissioner John Marinatto told FanHouse last week the league is waiting for Villanova, a Big East member in all sports but football, to decide if it wants its football program to make the leap from FCS to the FBS as a Big East member.
If Villanova learned anything from what nearly happened to Kansas last summer, the Wildcats will make the jump. And immediately.
Like Kansas, Villanova is known as a basketball school, but doesn't have near the tradition as Kansas. Yet when the Big 12 nearly imploded, Kansas and its incredible basketball tradition meant nothing and the Jayhawks would have been left behind because their football program was basically insignificant.
And if there are more conference shakeups in the future, Villanova might find itself in the same position unless its football program is up and running and aligned with a BCS conference. So, count Villanova in.
TCU would prefer a Big 12 membership, but since the Big 12 doesn't appear interested, the Horned Frogs will opt to head east. Playing in a conference with the average distance between the other nine members (including Villanova) and TCU would be 1,140 miles is just the cost of doing business.
There had been speculation that TCU would join the league as a football-only member and would try to place its non-football sports in the WAC. However, TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte said if the Horned Frogs leave the Mountain West, they would not do so as a football-only member.
"We're an athletic department," Del Conte told The Sporting News. "Whatever endeavor we do, you're united as one. That's who we are. That's how we always compete. We compete as one unit."
Having its Olympic-sports teams' travel by plane would not be that much of an inconvenience for TCU. How many bus trips did the Horned Frogs take in the Mountain West? Plus, once you have to fly somewhere, does it really matter if it's 500 or 1,500 miles?
The schools that nearly left the Big 12 (Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State) had no problem about having to send their Olympic-sports teams' nearly 2,000 miles to Washington, I doubt TCU would let the distance derail the chance to join a BCS league.
Did I mention TCU needs the Big East as much as the Big East needs it?
TCU is currently 10-0 and No. 3 in the BCS rankings. It appears the Horned Frogs will receive a second consecutive BCS bowl berth, but nothing is certain. If the Horned Frogs were 10-0 and in the Big East, they would not have such concerns and would be locked and loaded into a BCS bowl berth as part of an automatic qualifying BCS league.
As far as the Big East adding a 17th member to its basketball membership, that would not be a problem.
"You can have 50 teams in basketball (in the conference)," a Big East source told FanHouse in the summer. "It doesn't matter. That's why they have the NCAA tournament."
In April, Marinatto told FanHouse the Big East's 16-team basketball league could handle anywhere from one to four new members, if needed.
"When we reconstituted (in 2005), we had the foresight to provide a provision in our constitution to allow for (expansion)," Marinatto told FanHouse in May. "So if that school (or schools) became available we would do it tomorrow. It would take five minutes."
While some Big East basketball fans might cringe at adding a basketball program that plays in a substandard (by Big East comparisons) arena and has been to only two NCAA tournaments in the past 39 years, a college football industry insider told me, "Remember, this is all about football and remaining relevant in the BCS."
"TCU makes good sense for the Big East," a college football industry source told me. "They would bring huge BCS numbers."
If TCU moved to the Big East, the Horned Frogs would take "all of their data to their new league," BCS spokesman Bill Hancock said.
However, the current four-year evaluation period for the BCS concludes in December 2011, so TCU's past BCS rankings – three consecutive top 11 BCS rankings, including this year – would not transfer to the Big East unless it joined the league before the 2012-13 school year.
The current 2008-11 evaluation period is being used to determine if a seventh conference earns automatic qualifying status for the 2012 and 2013 regular seasons – and the Mountain West (TCU's current home) will not qualify. The Big East, however, already has its automatic qualifying status for the 2012 and 2013 regular seasons by virtue of the contracts, Hancock said.
So, the Big East is safe for now. Adding TCU, however, would strengthen its position when the league starts renegotiating its television contracts that expires after the 2013 season.
The other schools that have been mentioned as possible candidates are Central Florida, Temple, Memphis and East Carolina, Big East sources told FanHouse.
The league's presidents are still waiting for the league to get together some flow charts, TV market size data, projected TV contract numbers and other assorted information before they determine which schools they will add to the football league.
But based on the key components, listed below, of the league candidates, TCU is the clear cut choice – even if it will require both parties to commit to a long-distance relationship.
Comparing the Big East's top expansion candidates. Villanova, a current Big East member in all sports but football, has already been extended an invitation to join as a football member and is not included below.
TV market rank: No. 5 (Dallas-Fort Worth)
Final BCS rankings: 2000 (No. 14), 2003 (No. 18), 2005 (No. 14), 2008 (No. 11), 2009 (No. 4).
Football budget: $20.6 million
Athletic department budget: $52.4 million
Record vs. BCS teams since 2005: 11-2
TV market rank: No. 19 (Orlando)
Final BCS rankings: None
Football budget: $8.5 million
Athletic department budget: $35.6 million
Record vs. BCS teams since 2005: 1-16
TV market rank: No. 4 (Philadelphia)
Final BCS rankings: None
Football budget: $10 million
Athletic department budget: $28.7 million
Record vs. BCS teams since 2005: 1-18
TV market rank: No. 26 (Raleigh-Durham)
Final BCS rankings: None
Football budget: $8.5 million
Athletic department budget: $28.4 million
Record vs. BCS teams since 2005: 7-15
TV market rank: No. 50 (Memphis)
Final BCS rankings: None
Football budget: $11.5 million
Athletic department budget: $26 million
Record vs. BCS teams since 2005: 0-13
The Meek Shall Inherit ... the BCS Bowls?
Alabama, Miami, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Texas and USC are six of the biggest bell cows in college football. And for each of the past 18 seasons at least one of those schools has participated in one of the major bowls as part of either the Bowl Coalition (1992-1994), Bowl Alliance (1995-97) or BCS (1998-).
For the past 18 years, at least one of those powers has been in one of the major bowls but this season, it's a real possibility that none will make a BCS bowl. USC, of course, is ineligible. However, Alabama, Miami and Texas are all but realistically eliminated from BCS bowl contention.
Oklahoma and Ohio State are still mathematically alive, but the Sooners and Buckeyes need some help to win their leagues.
How shocking would it be without those half-dozen teams in a BCS bowl? Since the 2000 regular season, they have combined for six BCS titles and 13 appearances in the 10 BCS title games.
ACC Atlantic Race: Parity or Parody?
There are six teams in the ACC's Atlantic Division. With only three weeks remaining in the regular season, four of the six are still in contention for the ACC Atlantic title: Florida State (4-2 in ACC), Maryland (3-2), N.C. State (3-2) and Clemson (3-3).
Trying to figure out all of the different scenarios is impossible. That is, unless, you've got Patrick Stevens, who runs the D1scourse.com blog, at your disposal.
Apparently, Stevens is a glutton for punishment because he took the time to figure out the different possible scenarios – all 128 of them.
Of the 128 scenarios, Florida State wins in 38 of them, N.C. State in 33, Maryland in 31 and Clemson in 25. Broken down percentage-wise, FSU has a 29.6 percent chance to win the Atlantic, followed by N.C. State (25.7 percent), Maryland (24.2 percent) and Clemson (19.5 percent).
Then there is the one scenario – which has a 0.0078 percent chance of occurring. Stevens calls it the "train wreck scenario" where Florida State, Maryland and N.C. State all finish 5-3 in league play and the tie can't be broken by the seven tiebreakers so the league would have to then use Tiebreaker No. 8: "the representative shall be chosen by a draw."
Not sure if that's like the Old West "step off 10 paces and draw" or which school draws the prettiest picture of John Swofford wins.
The Big Ten's (Really Bad) Tiebreaker
There it is on the Big Ten's official tiebreaker for determining the Rose Bowl representative. Tiebreaker No.3 and No. 5C: "the representative shall be determined on a percentage basis of all games played."
That means if there is a two-way tie (and the teams did not play each other ) or a three-way tie (and each team beat each other, or all three didn't play each other), then the Big Ten will be decided by which team had the better non-conference record.
So this year, that means that Iowa is screwed because it had the, uh, guts to play at Arizona and lost. Can someone explain whether Iowa defeated Arizona should determine if the Hawkeyes should earn the Rose Bowl berth? In other words, Big Ten teams are basically rewarded for playing patsies in non-league play. Ain't America great?
If all the teams tied for the Big Ten title have the identical overall record, then the team with the highest BCS ranking gets the Rose Bowl berth.
Here are the Big Ten's most likely tiebreaker scenarios among three 7-1 teams:
If Iowa beats Ohio State:
Michigan State (11-1, 7-1)
Wisconsin (11-1, 7-1)
Iowa (10-2, 7-1)
Iowa is eliminated because of non-conference loss at Arizona, making it a two-way tie between Michigan State and Wisconsin. MSU wins Big Ten based on 34-24 victory over Wisconsin.
If Ohio State beats Iowa:
Michigan State (11-1, 7-1)
Wisconsin (11-1, 7-1)
Ohio State (11-1, 7-1)
Michigan State and Ohio State didn't play and since they all have identical records, the tiebreaker is the highest ranking in the final BCS rankings on Dec. 5. This week's rankings: No. 7 Wisconsin, No. 9 Ohio State, No. 11 Michigan State.
Luck Needs Some Luck To Get In Heisman Mix
Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck has led the Cardinal to an 8-1 record and a No. 7 ranking in this week's Associated Press poll. At best, though, he's maybe third or fourth on most Heisman Trophy voters' lists.
That does not make Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh happy.
"You know how I feel about it," Harbaugh said after the Cardinal beat Arizona 42-17. "I don't get to see every other player out there and I know there are some other worthy guys, but I can tell you as an insider that none of this is happening without Andrew Luck.
"It's Peyton Manning-like, believe me, it's remarkable. He played a tremendous game. Some of the throws he made into really tight areas... those are big-boy throws, those are big league type of throws, when you are putting the ball on a line 35 yards downfield, staring into a rush. It's very NFL-like, the way he executes on the field."
Luck leads the Pac-10 in passing efficiency and total offense, but he's only the Pac-10's second-best Heisman candidate behind Oregon running back LaMichael James.
Boise State Visits 'Inebriated' Idaho
On Friday, it will be one of the most anticipated -- and sadly probably the final -- meeting between Boise State and Idaho. It's likely the last meeting with Boise State leaving the WAC for the Mountain West.
It's doubtful any of the previous games in the 40-year series had this much buildup. The reason is in July, Boise State president Bob Kustra ripped Idaho and its fans. Kustra told the Idaho Statesman's editorial board that he was in favor of ending the series and insinuated that playing in Moscow, Idaho, was beneath the Broncos.
"It's a culture that is nasty, inebriated and civilly doesn't give our fans the respect that any fan should expect when visiting an away team," Kustra told the Statesman in July. "My wife and I no longer travel to Moscow games. What bothers me more than anything else is that the fans are not about denigrating our athletic program. ... What bothers me personally is the denigration of our academic programming. That's what I simply can't tolerate. ...
"I've never seen the nastiness aimed at the quality of our academic program that I find here in Idaho from the University of Idaho Vandals -- and as long as that goes on, why would I want to encourage a game where people don't know how to act like grownups?"
With his president having already popped off months earlier, Boise State coach Chris Petersen on Monday would not allow his players to talk to the media about Friday's game with Idaho.
"Usually when we get into this game situation with Idaho, usually somebody says something they probably shouldn't say, and with all the distractions we've had going on here, I thought it was a good time for our guys to take care of our own business," Petersen told the Idaho Press-Tribune.
What Caught My Eye
Where would Penn State coach Joe Paterno be without Temple, West Virginia, Maryland, Pittsburgh and Syracuse? How about sitting at 278 wins? Of Paterno's 400 career wins, 122 victories – or 30 percent of them – came courtesy of Temple, West Virginia, Maryland, Pitt and Syracuse. ... The Magic of Miles: LSU's 24-21 victory over Alabama Saturday improved Les Miles' record in games decided by eight points or less to a sparkling 24-8 (75 percent) since he's been at LSU.
East Carolina athletic director Terry Holland has a regular feature on the school's website. His latest entry on Sunday discussed the Pirates' 76-35 loss to Navy and he dropped "disappointing" and "embarrassed" references in the first paragraph alone. Holland wrote: "Saturday's defeat to Navy by the score of 76-35 is one of those disappointing losses that is forever a part of ECU's football history. No one was more embarrassed and more intent to use that loss as motivation to build a great football program than the coaches and players who fought that battle."
Observations From The Road
On Wednesday, I was in Tampa as South Florida won its 100th game in program history, edging Rutgers. Fourteen years earlier, I was also on hand for USF's first victory. The Bulls are 100-60 all-time. I covered the program from 1999-2009 – 123 games worth – in which the Bulls went 80-43.
On Saturday, I was in Baton Rouge, covering my third LSU home game. My first one, in 1997, was one of my most memorable games as the Tigers upset No. 1 Florida. I was on the field during the final minutes and when the game ended, the fans swarmed the field like an ant hill and the goal posts literally vanished in seconds. Saturday, the fans stayed off the field after beating defending national champion Alabama. Still, I was left with two lasting memories: Les Miles eating grass and after the game, LSU's band and Golden Girls triumphantly performing "All I Do Is Win" as thousands in the student section swayed and bounced along.
And Now for Steve Hill's View of the College Football World
Brett McMurphy is a national college football writer for FanHouse. Contact him at email@example.com or please follow at Twitter.com/BrettmcmurphY