TCU taking wait-and-see approach

June, 10, 2010
6/10/10
8:29
PM CT
FORT WORTH, Texas -- TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte, working in a conference room because of wet paint in his office, was busy e-mailing on his iPad and fielding phone calls on Thursday. Realignment was a popular topic.

"The toughest part is figuring out what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to rumors," Del Conte said. "There's where the consternation is."

Del Conte is confident that TCU will end up in a competitive athletic environment, no matter what happens with the changing landscape of college football. He points to the fact that the football team just came off a BCS bowl and undefeated regular season and that the baseball team is busy preparing to face Texas in the Super Regionals. Not to mention a gaggle of other sports where TCU can boast success stories.

"The biggest thing is to realize that we put ourselves in a position where we're very attractive," Del Conte said. "We’ve put ourselves in a position where we can take care of TCU and feel good about TCU. Outside of that, it's so far out of our control right now."

Del Conte wouldn't say whether he's talked to the Big 12 conference or its member institutions about possible scenarios. He said he's in contact every day with Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson and that TCU is committed to its current conference.

"Everyone has been having communication because all of a sudden, people are trying to figure out where are we headed, what is happening?" Del Conte said. "When you hear a rumor, you don’t try to react. You call friends, see what they’re hearing."

Del Conte wasn't surprised that the Pac-10 became aggressive.

"Is this unusual step? No," Del Conte said. "It’s logical step as the evolution of intercollegiate athletic moves forward. It’s part of growing as a conference."

TCU football coach Gary Patterson hosts a football camp on Friday at TCU. It's possible that conference realignment and expansion will come up with some of the players, some of which are future TCU recruits. Patterson was asked about the possibility of playing in the Big 12 should the remaining schools decide to spurn the offer to the Pac 10, stay intact and try to expand.

"We’ve already played the Big 12," Patterson said. "We were supposed to play Texas Tech and Baylor this year. We've played OU and Texas."

Patterson acknowledges that it's different playing one or two Big 12 teams in nonconference and playing them on a weekly basis.

"If you were in the Big 12, you’d recruit to the depth of the Big 12," Patterson said. "I’d just recruit more players. The depth is the difference between a lot of those leagues. We have as good players or better than those places, but the key is to have a complete team."

Patterson said TCU would be able to tell recruits that they can play against Big 12 opponents each week, something he can't tell them now.

"But I can't think about that stuff," Patterson said. "Once it all settles, I try to come up with a plan that best positions us to be successful as we’ve been right now. Tell me who we play and I’ll start recruiting toward and preparing this team to win more than we lose. That’s what my job is."

Del Conte's job is to make sure TCU can capitalize on whatever opportunities may come its way. That could include a larger Mountain West Conference, if the league decides to look at any Big 12 leftover teams and possibly others like Boise State, Houston, UTEP or SMU.

"You’re always looking to strengthen yourself," Del Conte said. "That’s the responsiblity to the TCU board of trustees, the chancellor and me is to look out for the best interest of TCU. You are always looking to strengthen your postion and your university."

Del Conte is quick to note that TCU's odds of playing for a football national championship are better now than they've been in a long time.

"We have a significantly better chance to play for a national championship than the majority of schools in the BCS conferences right now," Del Conte said. "In the Big 12 there are four schools that have won a national championship. Four. We were one second away from playing for one."

TCU has worked hard the last decade to improve its facilities and become even more attractive to recruits that see all of the amentities of big-conference teams like those in the Big 12. Next on the list: Amon G. Carter Stadium. TCU is raising funds right now for the stadium renovation, which is expected to start right after the 2010 football season. It includes new suites and an updated look.

"It's another brick in the foundation that strengthens us," Del Conte said. "I’m excited about all the opportunities. It's a truly exciting time to see what the possibilties are and what lies ahead for TCU."
Richard Durrett joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He writes about colleges, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. Richard spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools.

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