The TCU Horned Frogs, who were set to join the Big East next season, have received an invitation to join the Big 12 Conference. Negotiations between TCU and the Big 12 are ongoing, but the move is imminent.
TCU has been a member of the Mountain West Conference since 2005. Between 1923 and 1995, the Horned Frogs were members of the Southwest Conference before it broke up and became what is now the Big 12. Their move will reignite in-state rivalries with Baylor, Texas and Texas Tech.
The Big 12 was temporarily down to nine members after the Texas A&M Aggies bolted for the SEC. Reports indicate that the Big 12 could expand up to 12 schools, although Oklahoma and Texas prefer to remain at ten. Some of the schools mentioned for the 11th and 12th slots are BYU, Louisville and West Virginia.
Since the Horned Frogs committed to joining the Big East last year, they will have to pay a $5 million buyout. However, they will not be held to the 27-month waiting period since their Big East membership wasn’t official until July 1, 2012. That means TCU can start Big 12 play in 2012.
Two schools that will be held to the Big East waiting period are Pittsburgh and Syracuse, who last month accepted an offer to join the ACC. With the loss of those two schools plus TCU, the Big East is now down to six football members. That puts the conference on unstable ground.
The latest in conference realignment will also shuffle future football schedules for many teams. Just two months ago, TCU announced their Big East schedule for 2012. Throw that out the window for now.