Pride and celebration swelled throughout Fort Worth on Monday as TCU accepted an invitation to the Big 12. Athletic director Chris Del Conte fought back tears and talked of dreams coming true.
Hey, this Big 12 marriage/Horned Frog marriage is looking better all the time.
But soon enough, TCU, we need you to put down those purple pom-poms and get to work. Help convince a few holdouts to get this league back to its namesake. The Big 12 needs 12 schools.
Lots of powerful people are on board. OU president David Boren. Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder. Anyone with a clue from the old North Division.
But the 10-Team Party has some sharp and savvy supporters. Texas kingpin DeLoss Dodds. OSU athletic director Mike Holder.
“I'm more of a quality guy,” said Holder. “I like the dynamic of 10. I think that's the best way to do it.
“No disrespect to TCU. (But) you can't replace a Nebraska or a Texas A&M.”
Or a Missouri, which seems headed to the Southeastern Conference. The only variable is time.
But new blood can help change the perception that the Big 12 is a dying conference. Just because the Big 12 never will find another Nebraska doesn't mean it has to go into bunker mentality.
Look at all the positive vibes in the few days since it became apparent TCU was headed our way. Can't find a Nebraska? Grow your own.
West Virginia, Brigham Young, Boise State. All have a better football pedigree than TCU. None sit on I-35 or within 20 minutes of the Big 12 headquarters, but add any or all to the conference, and the Big 12's excitement level and television attractiveness soar.
“If Missouri should leave, we should act very, very quickly to get back to 10,” Boren said. “I personally feel we should get back to 12 as soon as we can. It shows stability and strength.”
Boren said the 10/12 decision should be based on stability rather than finances. Staying at 10 schools likely would produce a better financial outlook, though 12 would provide the lucrative Big 12 championship game.
Soon enough, the Big 12 will find that it misses the marquee stage provided by a championship game, though the Dec. 4 Bedlam figures to make up for the void this season.
But Holder's take is this. You can't get quality programs without extensive geographic expansion, and if you stretch the Big 12 into the Eastern or Mountain time zones or both, “you've lost a lot of what you've been.”
Some would argue that the loss already has occurred. No Oklahoma-Nebraska. No A&M-Texas. The Big 12 is not what it has been. It has to be something new.
That has to occur with new blood.
TCU helps a bunch. But the Horned Frogs or even Missouri can't do it alone.
Boren said he probably would favor an eastern expansion (West Virginia, Louisville) over westward (BYU, Boise State), for travel purposes as much as anything, but “I wouldn't rule out either one. We've got some really good choices.”
The best choice would be expanding back to 12 schools.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.