If you follow Kirk Bohls of the Austin-American Statesman on twitter then you already know this, but he's reporting that the Big 12 has voted to invite TCU to join the conference. "Big 12 presidents and chancellors have voted to invite TCU to join the league, should be finalized over next several days." In the never ending guessing game that has surrounded NCAA conference re-alignment, TCU along with BYU, the University of Houston, and Louisville have long been rumored to possibly make the jump to the once crumbling Big 12. There was some reason to doubt the TCU move because of their pending move to the Big East, but when news came out two weeks ago that Pittsburgh and Syracuse would be leaving the Big East for the ACC, things changed for TCU. Suddenly the Big East looked even more vulnerable than the Big 12 to collapse, so it appears they've changed their mind and will play their conference games closer to home. According to Kirk Bohls, "I'm told that TCU would not have trouble escaping Big East financially because (1) not in BE yet; (2) BE isn't the same league it joined." While this move could be finalized pretty soon, don't assume anything. This isn't a done deal yet and Bohls while a very good reporter, has been wrong before.
But let's assume that he's right and TCU joins the Big 12 next season, is this a good move for the Big 12? There are 3 main factors to consider when evaluating these conference moves. Does it make sense on the field, does it make sense regionally, and does it add a new TV market and money to the conference. TCU gets a big check mark for success on the field and obviously being in close proximity to the other Big 12 schools, but for the third and in my opinion the most important factor; this doesn't make any sense. The Big 12 already has the Dallas and Houston markets with Texas and Oklahoma, so it doesn't gain anything there. On top of that, TCU has had recent problems selling out their games even when they've made BCS runs, so financially this move doesn't work or fix the Big 12's problems. This problem will be made worse if Missouri makes the jump to the SEC as they are expected. If you lose Missouri, you lose a chunk of the St. Louis and Kansas City markets; TCU can't replace that. Assuming that Mizzou does leave, they have to go after BYU hard. Adding BYU would be a huge gain for the conference with not only bringing in the Salt Lake City market but also bringing in a national following.
If they lose Missouri and add TCU/BYU, that gets the conference back to 10 teams. Will they be satisfied with that? In the arms race that is conference re-alignment they shouldn't be, but recent quotes from Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas indicate that they might be happy with 10 teams. I'd make a guess as to what will happen next, but it seems recently that the moment you do, breaking news hits and you have to re-write. Stay tuned, things are moving fast.