For the first time in its 16-year history. the Big 12 added new members as TCU and West Virginia officially joined the conference this week.
During the realignment saga of the past couple of years, the Big 12 Conference was in management crisis and slimmed down to only eight teams. The addition of TCU and West Virginia allows the conference to continue with 10 teams and secure a round-robin scheduling format for the basketball and football regular seasons.
“Both institutions bring with them academic and athletic credentials that advance the Conference’s standing within intercollegiate athletics,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowslby said. “I couldn’t be more excited for the future of the Big 12 Conference.”
TCU and West Virginia should make Big 12 football even stronger, as both teams won their respective conference championships last season.
The TCU football program has been on a tear in recent years under head coach Gary Patterson, posting a 109-30 record and winning 7 bowl games in the last 12 seasons. TCU’s acceptance into the conference ends a long transitional era for the program that started in the mid-1990s. After the disintegration of the Southwest Conference, TCU was left out of the initial Big 12 and competed in three different conferences before the Big 12 finally came calling.
The recent resurgence of their football and basketball teams has turned West Virginia into a household name. “We have a saying here after a big win - ‘It’s a great day to be a Mountaineer.’ Believe me when I say it’s truly a great day to be a Mountaineer and a member of the Big 12 Conference,” WVU president James Clements said. “The Big 12 is very strong.”
Baylor coach Scott Drew said the newest Big 12 members will make the conference even tougher in basketball.
“We’ve been very successful in getting teams into the tournament and winning games in the tournament,” said Drew. “And when you bring West Virginia and TCU in, it just helps with the numbers. In some areas, it comes out better.”
The Big 12 has responded well to the departure of Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri and Texas A&M and remains an elite conference.
“The big thing is the core of the Big 12 is together,” said Drew. “There’s been so much tradition and success since the Big 12 was founded and I think people realize this is an elite conference and that year in and year out you can argue it’s the best conference in the country.”