Texas Christian, which currently sits third in the BCS standings, announced it will move to the Big East Conference effective for the 2012 football season. The move will be for all sports. TCU will be the ninth football team for the Big East. An invitation to Villanova for football is still pending. The move puts TCU in a BCS automatic qualifying conference. TCU is virtually assured a BCS bowl this year, but would have likely missed out had Boise State not lost over Thanksgiving weekend.
The loss of TCU is damaging to the Mountain West Conference. The league has added Boise State for the 2011 season but will lose Utah and BYU, two of its more respected programs. The loss of TCU further diminishes the Mountain West as a strong conference, despite the future addition of Nevada and Fresno State.
Utah, BYU, and TCU had made great strides toward moving the Mountain West toward potential status as an automatic qualifier in a few seasons, but now all of them have departed. Boise State made the move to the Mountain West in hopes of that conference becoming a BCS automatic qualifier. The loss of TCU essentially means the MWC will not reach that level.
For the Big East, the addition of TCU instantly enhances a football reputation that has declined significantly over the past few seasons. After 2009 champion Cincinnati was blown out in the Sugar Bowl, the Big East has not had a ranked team for most of the season. West Virginia is the only Big East team with fewer than four losses in 2010. Since the Big East has an automatic bid to a BCS bowl, there was a possibility before the Boise State loss that an unbeaten TCU team would have been shut out while West Virginia or UConn earned a berth in a major bowl game.
The addition of TCU is likely to cause further changes for the Big East in other sports. An already well-regarded basketball conference, the Big East already has 16 teams. The addition of TCU puts the league at 17. This is the fourth conference for TCU since the Southwest Conference folded following the 1995 season.
Villanova, which is a Big East member in other sports, has not yet accepted an invitation to the conference. They will need to develop a plan to enhance their stadium and facilities in order to become an FBS team.