Reports: TCU heading to Big 12, not Big East
The Big East continues to be hit hard by conference realignment, with reports Thursday that TCU -- considered a key addition for Big East football next season -- is on the way to accepting an invitation instead to join the Big 12.
TCU's departure would leave the Big East with just six football members once Pittsburgh and Syracuse leave for the ACC, putting the league's status as a BCS automatic qualifier in jeopardy. The Big East has been linked to Navy and Air Force as strong candidates for football expansion, but the league has yet to make a move as key member schools continue to move elsewhere.
For TCU, the Big 12 is a more natural fit geographically and from a financial standpoint, allowing the Horned Frogs to rekindle rivalries with Texas, Texas A&M and Baylor that were lost as TCU bounced from conference to conference in the past 16 years.
What does it mean for USF? If the Big 12 is done expanding and the Big East can keep its current six schools, even with some of the additions being discussed, its AQ status would be uncertain. Football-only additions like the military academies or Temple would help add stability and make the league more viable for later additions. If the Big 12 seeks a return to 12 teams, it could again come at the Big East's expense, with Louisville, West Virginia and Cincinnati discussed as possible options, along with BYU.
The conference would have 14 basketball schools longterm right now, so it's likely the conference has two openings for all-sports additions, which could be good news for Conference USA programs such as Central Florida, Houston or East Carolina.