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Berry Tramel: Big 12 was shortsighted in shunning TCU

by Berry Tramel Modified: January 4, 2011 at 5:47 pm •  Published: January 4, 2011

I did some ciphering and some eyeballing and some deducing to arrive at this: the dead-center point in the new Big 12 Conference is Meeker, in good ol' Lincoln County.

You know what sits 216 miles from Meeker?

The Rose Bowl football trophy.

The hardware was not swiped from Columbus, Ohio, or South Central L.A. Not purchased from a pawn shop, hawked by some beleaguered school trying to pay off a coach.

The trophy sits in Fort Worth, Texas, hard-earned and well-won by the Horned Frogs of TCU in the Arroyo Seco, on the Rose Bowl's luscious green.

Yet the Big 12, two schools shy of a dozen, doesn't want Texas Christian University, which is within 300 miles of six Big 12 members?

That can mean only one thing. The Big 12 is not interested in thriving. The Big 12 is not interested in long-term growth.

Big 12 schools want to milk as much money out of their current television contracts as they can before the league dissolves. Which might be sooner rather than later, with that kind of thinking.

What else can be deduced from a league that wants no part of a Rose Bowl champion in its front yard?

TCU, shunned by its neighbors, is off to the Big East in 2012. The Big 12 is off to diluted status.

Last summer, it was easy to write off TCU and say the Frogs made no economic sense for the Big 12. Brought no new television sets to the Big 12 television contracts. I wasn't all that keen on TCU myself.

But that was then. Look at the Frogs now. Rose Bowl champs. Announced in August a $100 million renovation that promises to turn Amon Carter Stadium into a college football Camden Yards and will raise capacity to 50,000-plus. The renovation began a month ago.

Believe this or not, but according to the Equity in Athletics Data Analysis Cutting Tool, TCU's football budget this season was $20.6 million. That's more than any Big 12 school except Texas. More than Oklahoma. More than Oklahoma State. More than Texas A&M. More than Nebraska.

Look, I'm not trying to revive the Southwest Conference. I don't want any part of Houston or SMU or Rice.

But this is not the old TCU. Get the old TCU out of your mind. The TCU of F.A. Dry and Jim Wacker is gone. The TCU that couldn't make the cut for the Big Eight/SWC merger is no more.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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