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College Sports

TCU’s Pending Move To Big East Is Suddenly Shaky

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FORT WORTH (AP)  When TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte was explaining his school’s decision last year to leave the Mountain West Conference, he pointed out that it wasn’t the same league the Horned Frogs had joined.

Neither is the Big East Conference, which the Horned Frogs are supposed to join next year.

TCU’s upcoming move to the Big East was supposed to be about stability and being in a conference with automatic access into the BCS.

But Syracuse and Pittsburgh are leaving the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference. Without them, and without more changes, there will be only six other football teams in the Big East before TCU gets there next season.

TCU coach Gary Patterson opened his weekly news conference Tuesday by reminding everyone that “we are having a football season” and there have been some good games around all the conference realignment talk.

Patterson was then asked about the Big East changes after TCU had worked so long and hard to get into an automatic-qualifying conference.

“My guy’s in New York,” Patterson said, an apparent reference to Del Conte. “I’ll be honest with you, I don’t have much time for it. Hopefully somebody will be smart about all this and understand what’s good for college football. But I think TCU will be fine.”

Del Conte wasn’t on the TCU campus Tuesday and didn’t respond to text messages to his cell phone.

Three people with knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press that presidents and athletic directors from the Big East’s six remaining football members, along with officials from TCU, were scheduled to meet Tuesday night with Commissioner John Marinatto in New York.

A spokeswoman for TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini said Tuesday that he wasn’t available for comment. She wouldn’t confirm whether he was on campus.

After TCU’s 38-17 victory over Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday, when the 20th-ranked Frogs played the first home game since starting a $143 million modernizing renovation there, Del Conte said nothing surprised him because of all the moves that had been made and ongoing rumors about who was going where.

“There’s many earthquakes happening all the way around,” he said then, the day before Syracuse and Pitt announced their moves. “It’s just for us to make sure we can take care of our own house. That’s basically what we’re doing. … There’s six BCS conferences. We are in that discussion of those conferences and who is where. That’s the point of the move (to the Big East), is to make sure that you’re in the discussion.”

TCU has earned consecutive at-large berths into Bowl Championship Series games, and finished No. 2 in the AP poll last season after a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin to cap a 13-0 season.

Patterson, who on Saturday got his 100th victory in his 11th season at TCU, said he was trying to keep his focus on the field.

“I don’t see us being any less of a commodity than we were last year when we were taken the first time. I think we’ll just keep doing what we do,” he said. “But I know that Mr. Del Conte, Chris our AD, has been doing everything in his power, on top of things to keep TCU positioned for whatever those are.”

While there is so much realignment that could lead to superconferences, Patterson has already been part of 16-team league. TCU was part of the WAC before several schools from that league later formed the Mountain West.

“I didn’t really like it very much,” Patterson said of the 16-team WAC. “You really don’t know anything about what goes on on the other side, and how it goes. I think that’s too big.”

Patterson wonders “what’s big enough” and about the message all the changes are sending.

“We’re trying to teach every day, we’re trying to teach kids to do the right things, and make good decisions and do things for the right reasons, don’t do them because of financial,” he said. “Then everything they read is we do it opposite. We’ll see how it all goes.”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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