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USC, UCLA, and the Big Ten broke the media on Thursday.

A year and a day before a major reshuffling of college football takes place, news broke that USC and UCLA are in talks to leave the Pac-12 in favor for the Big Ten. It's the biggest news since Texas and Oklahoma kicked off the great move by announcing their intent to leave the Big 12 for the SEC.

It seems like college football is headed for a Super-Conference breaking away from the NCAA. The question is– should TCU and alike teams be on that ticket? Would they even want to be?

Let's Get This Out Of The Way

Okay– if the major programs of college football leave the NCAA and form a semi-professional league, they're going to make a ton of money. So, of course TCU and alike programs want to be in on that.

With the rise of NIL, the amateurism model for college football is falling out of vogue and fast.

But for the sake of competition, would it make sense for TCU to jump ship? Maybe not.

What The New FBS Would Look Like

The Big Ten and SEC appear to be the vehicles into the future of college football. Geographically and culturally, it makes no sense for SoCal teams like USC and UCLA to be in a conference with the Iowas, Wisconsins, and Michigans of the world. It just doesn't.

However, consider the top 30 or so brands in the country. Not win percentage, not winning programs, brands. Each of the major conferences are about 50% big-name brands and 50% not. For example, Texas and Oklahoma are the major brands of the Big 12. Florida State, Clemson, and Miami are the big brands of the ACC.

You get the picture.

These are the teams that would first move to the new FBS. In this model, win percentages are useless.

TCU is a big athletic department that has a strong geographic pull (in DFW), but they're also just a decade removed from playing in the Mountain West. Teams like them, Oregon State, Louisville, would be on the fringe.

That begs the question...

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Would TCU Even Want To Join?

If given one of two options, what would you choose?

  1. Joining a 40-team FBS with Ohio State, Alabama, and Georgia with 8 open playoff spots
  2. Staying in the NCAA with teams like Memphis, Kansas State, and Boston College

Surely the answer varies per person. While payouts may be enticing from the breakaway FBS, winning puts butts in seats. Being a double-digit underdog in 70% of games and finishing 5-7 annually isn't the way to do it.

Compare the excitement of the 2014 Horned Frogs' season versus the 2021 season. Longterm, stacking 2021 seasons at a major program is bad for the program's wallet. Declining attendance has been a financial Achilles heel for many programs in the past several years.

Ultimately, it feels like the difference between riding the bench for a winning team or being the star for a sub-.500 one. 

What Teams Would Be On This Fringe?

To really know the answer, you'd have to be on the inside, which we're of course not. But it helps to identify brands versus good times like we mentioned earlier.

Brands (but maybe not good teams) that would be in

  • Nebraska
  • Miami
  • Virginia Tech
  • Texas
  • UCLA

Recently good teams (but not brands) that might not make the cut

  • Iowa State
  • Boise State
  • Pitt
  • NC State
  • Purdue

Teams with pull from influences outside football

  • Kansas (basketball)
  • Duke (basketball & academics)
  • Stanford (academics)
  • Houston (geography)

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