Winning the Big East, in football at least, just got a lot harder beginning in 2012, as Texas Christian University accepted a bid to become the 17th member of the conference-ninth in football-dealing yet another death blow to the Mountain West Conference in the process.
"Our membership is genuinely excited to add an institution of the caliber of TCU to our conference," Big East commissioner John Marinatto explained. "Chancellor Boschini and athletics director Chris Del Conte clearly share the same academic and athletic aspirations of our current members and are similarly committed to sponsoring a very highly competitive athletic program.
"Located in one of the top five media markets in the country, TCU also enables the Big East to extend its media footprint, which already encompasses more than a quarter of the country."
More importantly, the addition of the Horned Frogs-currently ranked No. 3 in the latest BCS poll-will have an immediate impact on the Big East's standing among the other six members of the Bowl Championship Series coalition as well as on the recruiting of the eight teams which presently make up the football side of the Big East.
"TCU is a great addition to the Big East and makes the conference much stronger," first-year WVU athletics director Oliver Luck said. "TCU has a very good athletic program and is an excellent academic institution with a focus on top-notch facilities."
With many observers around questioning the logic of awarding the Big East - which has only one football team ranked among the Top 25 (No. 23 WVU) - an automatic bid to the Bowl Championship Series, the addition of TCU should end that discussion and should make the Big East a bigger player when the present contract ends in three years.
As far as recruiting is concerned, playing at least every other year in the talent-rich state of Texas can only help in football as well as in basketball where the league will have to determine how it is going to handle a 17-team league.
"It's exciting for us because it opens up another recruiting area, one where we have been successful in the past with Kenyon Martin and Jason Maxwell," said WVU men's head basketball coach Bobby Huggins. "I have great respect for coach Jim Christian and what he has done in his coaching career."
With an enrollment of 9,142 on its Forth Worth campus, TCU competes in 20 sports. The baseball team played in the 2010 College World Series and the women's volleyball team participated in the NCAA championships. The Horned Frogs produced nationally ranked programs in football, baseball, men's and women's golf, rifle and equestrian.
It was those "other" 19 sports that became the biggest sticking point as some Big East members weren't ready to jump off bridges to add a 17th opponent to an already crowded slate of contests.
In the end, it was TCU's status as one of the elite college football programs that made it a deal the Big East "couldn't refuse".
Contact Jim Butta at firstname.lastname@example.org