Newcomers TCU and WVU add strength to Big 12

Nitya Duran

The Big 12 was happy to announce the addition of Texas Christian and West Virginia to the conference on July 1. Two spots became available after the departure of Missouri and Texas A&M from the conference last year and were filled after much speculation. The addition of these two schools strengthens the overall depth of the conference and is a good indication of what to expect from the Big 12 this year and in years to come.

The Texas Christian Horned Frogs are a force to be reckoned with, posting an impressive 11-2 record last year (7-0 in conference) as part of the Mountain West Conference and winning the Poinsettia Bowl against Louisiana Tech. They have been the reigning champions of the Mountain West Conference in the team’s last three seasons and finished in the Top 25 in both Associated Press and USA Today polls. This shows they are consistently fierce competitors in both the regular season and during offseason.

The Horned Frogs’ success can be credited, at least in part, to head coach of 11 seasons Gary Patterson. Under his leadership, TCU has won at least 10 games per season for eight seasons, only failing to miss a bowl game once in 2004. In 2009, they boasted a 12-0 regular season record, the Mountain West Conference championship, a No. 4 final ranking in the Bowl Championship Series rankings and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl. The following year they achieved a second undefeated season, earned a No. 3 ranking in the BCS and won the Rose Bowl.

In the East Coast, the Big 12 welcomes the West Virginia Mountaineers, who also have an esteemed football program. Last year, as members of the Big East, 23rd-ranked WVU posted a 10-3 record (5-2 in conference) under newly hired coach Dana Holgorsen en route to winning the Orange Bowl against No. 14 Clemson, a game where WVU set the record for most points scored in a bowl game.  They have had four consecutive nine-win seasons and have been the Big East co-champions for the past two years. It may only be Holgorsen’s second season with WVU and his first head coach position, but he has been coaching football since the mid-1990s and has made a name for himself as an offensive strategist. He improved the offenses of Texas Tech, Houston and Oklahoma State before finding a home at WVU and can lead the Mountaineers to another successful season. With an early dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate in senior quarterback Geno Smith, the Mountaineers have their eyes on another conference title as well.