SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Only months after many figured it was just a matter of time before the Big East would be mortally wounded by defections, the conference received a big boost on Monday with the addition of football powerhouse TCU.
"We went through a summer that was pretty exciting, to say the least, with all the conference expansion that was going on," Dr. Daryl Gross, Syracuse director of athletics, said on a conference call Monday. "There was a lot of movement, and the speculation was that the Big East would be devoured and torn apart. At the end of the summer, the Big East was still standing. We were able to survive, but better than that, now we've moved forward."
Nebraska left the Big 12 for the Big Ten and Colorado is moving to the Pac-10, but once Texas indicated it was committed to the Big 12, the conference decided not to add TCU or anybody else and plans to move forward as a 10-team league for now.
The WAC announced earlier this month that it was adding Texas-San Antonio and Texas State to a football lineup that will lose Boise State next year and Fresno State and Nevada in 2012.
Gross declined to mull future Big East expansion, preferring to focus on what had been accomplished with the end of the regular season at hand.
"We've been pre-emptive, proactive, and we'll continue to be that way," Gross said. "That has just enhanced the stock of the Big East. In the future, it's more attractive. I think we're in a better place today than we were six months ago."
To be sure.
The Horned Frogs (12-0) are ranked third nationally after finishing their second consecutive undefeated regular season. They captured the Mountain West title with a 66-17 victory at New Mexico on Saturday.
TCU is third in the BCS standings, the highest for a non-automatic qualifying team, and the Horned Frogs are in line for a chance to play for the national championship if either Oregon or Auburn lose this weekend. If the Ducks and Tigers win, TCU likely will play in the Rose Bowl.
The only current Big East team ranked in the AP Top 25 is No. 23 West Virginia (8-3), which is 24th in the BCS standings. Connecticut (7-4) will get the league's automatic BCS spot if it beats South Florida this week to win the conference title.
The Frogs have won 25 consecutive regular-season games, and 38 of 41 overall. The only losses in that span were in the Fiesta Bowl, vs. Boise State, and games at Oklahoma and Utah.
With the Big East poised to negotiate future television contracts, member schools were ready to benefit.
"We all believe that adding TCU makes the Big East a pretty good stock to buy," Gross said. "The sophistication in that is that now, you look at our television platform with negotiations coming up for our conference, what we've done is put ourselves in position where we're more attractive to having a better contract. And with a better contract, obviously, there comes resources that help all the institutions. And if you have the resources to help the institutions, there's going to be less reasons to want to do other things. I'm not saying that's the sole reason why you'd stay together, but it really helps you."
With all TCU sports moving to the Big East, the decision also creates a 17-team basketball league. Gross said the increased travel would not present a problem, though.
"It's a win-win," Gross said. "We get enhanced in football, they get to re-enhance themselves in basketball, and I think that's a good partnership."
Gross would not speculate on a potential 10th football member, which many believe could be Villanova.