Ever since Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College left for the ACC, the Big East has been on a quest to ensure its BCS viability.
Like a lonely single, the Big East has been on the prowl, trying to find someone new who can recreate the magic that they once had. They’ve had some good flings with their past additions.
But, in the end, the Big East was left unsatisfied and needed to find a new lover.
The recruitment of TCU bears a striking resemblance to using a dating website to find a new lover. Just get on the computer, check the boxes for what you are looking for in a mate, and voilà, true love.
After plugging in its requirements, TCU is the Big East’s perfect new partner. Winning football team? Check.
Access to a large media market? Double check.
The ability to open up new recruitment options for other Big East members? Yes sir.
TCU appears to be a total dream, almost too good to be true.
Still, though they may have the traits the Big East think it needs, are these really the things that have been missing? The answer is a resounding no.
The key difference between the Big East and the rest of the BCS conferences isn’t that the program lacks solid football programs. The Big East has some programs with tradition (Pitt, Syracuse, and West Virginia) to accompany the developing programs in the conference (UConn, and South Florida).
It’s a conference of 6’s and7’s. The kingdom of mediocrity.
The problem is, that college football is predicated on traditions and traditional powers, the 9’s and 10’s of the world. This is truly what Big East football lacks.
Without having a school like USC, Ohio State, or Alabama, there is no “it” team that will always keep the conference relevant.
What was crippling to the Big East during the ACC raid was that the name program, Miami, departed. Miami was that 10 that left you breathless. Even in the scandal plagued years, Miami gave the Big East football credibility.
It’s hard to think about the history of college football without “The U.”
Now, I know what you are thinking. Miami has indeed been down for the past few years. Let’s face it, in her new relationship she’s packed on a few pounds.
But the pretty girl you once loved is still inside Miami and it won’t take much for her to come back again to taunt you.
TCU is at her hottest right now, but can that attractiveness last? Are they national power the Big East truly needed?
Maybe, but if history is any indication, probably not. While TCU has had some success this decade, one decade dominating a second tier conference does not make a football dynasty.
Before the Franchione/Patterson Era began in 1998, you have to go back to the 1950’s to find another time that TCU was a major player in college football. In fact, between 1959 and 2000, TCU never finished in the Top 25, and went to only five bowl games.
That doesn’t scream history of success.
Ask a Texas football fan about their loyalties, you aren’t going to find a massive clambering for the Horned Frogs. It’s great having access to the No. 5 TV market in the nation, except when nobody in that market is going to tune in to watch the games.
It is very difficult to believe that conference games against the Rutgers of the world will start a football revolution.
The potential for a non-traditional program to backslide is high in the changing world of college football. The Big East should know this well. Louisville and Cincinnati were both solid 8’s at different points in their Big East tenure.
But lose a good coach, the makeup comes off and they are down to the 5’s they always were (and no, being with two 5’s does not equal being with a 10). One coaching change, one bad recruiting class or one scandal, and the Big East’s new preeminent program is back to its tradition status as an average football program in an average conference.
Or, more aptly, she will gain back all the weight she lost, and turn from the 10 back into a 6. If there’s one thing Big East football has, its 6’s.
Listen, it’s not like the Big East should be embarrassed to be seen with TCU. Heck, they may even form a strong relationship.
But the Big East may not want to get its hopes up here. Try as they might, the Big East may come to realize that the best love they ever had is the one that got away, and no matter how hard they try, they may be destined to die alone.
Mark Porter is a staff writer for The Juice Online.