DALLAS – For a while there, it seemed as if Texas Christian University should have considered a name change. Instead of TCU, it should have been LBU: “Left Behind University.”
New, lucrative athletic leagues kept popping up in the 1990s and 2000s, but the Horned Frogs weren't considered. They were consistent castoffs, scraps left behind to be taken in by whichever conference would accept them.
They went through the ill-conceived 16-team “super” WAC, the depleted eight-team WAC, Conference-USA and the Mountain West before finally accepting an invite in December to join the Big East.
A Texas school in the Big East? It was clunky, but it at least got TCU in a BCS league. It was an improvement from LBU status.
But the real breakthrough came Thursday, when the beleaguered Big 12 Conference extended an invitation. Even if a weird string of circumstances made it possible, the Horned Frogs are being included, at long last. And in a geographically sensible conference.
TCU's acceptance is imminent. A celebration is on the horizon for the west end of the Metroplex.
“It's a good deal for the long-suffering Horned Frogs,” said well-known author and sports writer Dan Jenkins, a TCU alum, fan and unofficial historian. “Feels like they've been in jail for 15 years and now they're out.”
The decision also has to be considered a positive for the Big 12, which is again, for now, at 10 teams. The league had only gone in reverse since Nebraska left in June 2010, losing Colorado soon afterward and then Texas A&M in the past few weeks. Missouri could still leave for the SEC, though that conference does not seem all that eager to extend its footprint to the northwest.
Thursday's decisions in mind – in addition to TCU, the league's presidents also approved measures to protect the conference from future defections - the Big 12 has vowed to proceed.
“We'll be fine either way,” Oklahoma president David Boren said Wednesday, referring to Missouri.
Pending TCU's acceptance, this would be the first time for the Big 12 to get closer to, well, 12. And it's a popular addition, at least as far as Oklahoma is concerned.
“They were the No. 1 choice,” Boren told The Oklahoman on Thursday. “It's a very popular choice with Oklahoma because obviously we like exposure in Texas and we lost A&M, so we like having another Texas school there for the exposure.