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Big East Expansion Candidates: TCU Horned Frogs

With the idea of realignment starting to kick up some more dust it is time once again to weight the pros and cons of various expansion scenarios. Our focus this week will be the Big East, who is looking to defend themselves from future decisions in the Big Ten by flirting with the idea of adding Villanova or TCU, or both.

First a look at some average Big East numbers among just the current football membership (IE: No Villanova, a basketball member).

  • Average Stadium Capacity: 52,896
  • Average Enrollment: 30,364
  • Average Endowment: $676.6 million

When asked if the Big East had any actual requirements in terms of stadium capacities and financial numbers Big East Director of Communications stated that there are no minimum requirements. The only requirements for any potential expansion would be that it would benefit the conference as a whole when adding football teams and/or other programs. For now assume that any potential candidate would probably want to meet these numbers, or at least come close to them. Not meeting these numbers should not be a total detriment though. These numbers just serve as a reference point in comparing any potential addition with the current Big East membership.

We start with a look at TCU. Here is how the Horned Frogs measure up compared to those Big East averages.

  • Stadium Capacity: 44,008
  • Enrollment: 8,696
  • Endowment: $974.7 million

If you look at just these numbers the only area that does not fit the prototypical Big East mold is the enrollment. If TCU joined the Big East they would be the smallest school in the conference’s football membership. Currently the smallest enrollment among Big East football schools is Louisville (15,125). One thing we know about TCU though is that funding would not be a problem. TCU would have the second largest endowment to help fund the entire athletics department among Big East football teams (Pittsburgh tops the conference with $1.837 billion). And we know this about the Horned Frogs: they will compete at an elite level. TCU is currently a top ten program and looks poised to keep the winning tradition going. A recent stadium renovation plan was unveiled to assure the school is committed to making the football program among the elite.

What makes TCU an attractive candidate is the television market in the Fort Worth. Fort Worth, Texas is home to the fifth largest television market in the country and the Big East already calls the top market (New York) home. Maybe Texas does not fit in the typical “East” mindset but in this age of conference alignment and college athletics, money talks and TV is the voice.

The question remains whether or not TCU is serious about a possible move to the Big East. Could this all be a move to pressure the Big 12 to extend an invitation?

About the Author

Kevin McGuire
Contributor to College Football Talk on Also a contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Member of Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.