TCU accepts Big 12 invitation, takes big leap in competition

Texas Christian accepted an invitation to join the Big 12 on Monday, seizing an opportunity to be a part of a conference with natural geographic rivals despite the league’s recent instability.

The board of trustees unanimously approved the move, and Chancellor Victor Boschini Jr. made the announcement in front of a packed room of more than 200 people. Athletic director Chris Del Conte fought back tears as he recalled receiving the phone call from the Horned Frogs’ new conference last week.

"This is living proof that dreams do come true," he said.

The move could provide some much-needed stability for the Big 12, which lost Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-12) over the summer and will lose Texas A&M to the Southeastern Conference next year. Missouri is also exploring a move to the SEC.

TCU has a strong football background that includes celebrated athletes from the 1930s — including Heisman Trophy winner Davey O’Brien and All-American Sammy Baugh, who both played in the NFL. More recent alums include New York Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson and Cincinnati Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton.

The Horned Frogs went 13-0 last season and won the Rose Bowl. They also went undefeated in the 2009 regular season, then lost to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl.

"It’s not going to be easy … but I do believe that if the Big 12 did not feel like we couldn’t be competitive in the league, then they wouldn’t have asked us," football coach Gary Patterson said following the announcement.

TCU currently competes in the Mountain West Conference and was set to join the Big East next July. Instead, the Big 12 went public with its interest in TCU last week and set the stage for the private university to stay closer to home. It officially joins the Big 12 on July 1.

Del Conte said TCU will not be required to give the 27 months’ notice to leave the Big East, but must pay the exit fee. He declined to confirm it was the $5 million required by the Big East policy.

■ MISSOURI — The Tigers are exploring a move to the Southeastern Conference in hopes of getting as much as $12 million each year in additional TV and cable revenue, according to a confidential document obtained by The Associated Press.

The 45-page document, which was reviewed by Missouri’s governing board of curators on Oct. 4, outlines the pros and cons of leaving the Big 12 Conference for the SEC. It was obtained from a university official familiar with the discussions who is not authorized to speak publicly.

■ CONFERENCE EXPANSION — The Southeastern Conference isn’t ready to expand yet.

SEC leaders met in Birmingham, Ala., for their regularly scheduled fall meeting but took no action on expansion.

The conference said in a statement that the presidents and chancellors "discussed a wide range of issues dealing with the changing landscape of intercollegiate athletics," but didn’t make any moves on expansion.

The SEC will add a 13th member when Texas A&M joins the league in July.

Meanwhile, Big East schools gave a go-ahead for the conference to expand to as many as 12 teams for football, a move that could involve adding six members.

The school presidents and chancellors gave approval for the league to talk with outside schools.

■ LOUISVILLE — Mike Sanford’s status on coach Charlie Strong’s coaching staff remains in flux.

Strong said he has not met with the Cardinals’ apparently former offensive coordinator, who did not make the trip to North Carolina for a 14-7 loss last week. Strong said he plans for Sanford — the former head coach at UNLV — to remain on staff; however, it is unclear what his role will be.

Strong shifted play-calling duties to quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson on Saturday against the Tar Heels, and Watson will continue in that role for the rest of the season.

■ UTAH — Quarterback Jordan Wynn will have surgery on his left shoulder within the next 10 days and miss the remainder of the season.

The Utes said last week that Wynn would be out at least two to three weeks because of the injury to his nonthrowing shoulder, suffered during the first half against Washington.

Junior college transfer Jon Hays started in Wynn’s place Saturday against Arizona State and threw a touchdown pass, but he also was intercepted three times.

■ FLORIDA — The Gators will be without quarterback John Brantley at No. 24 Auburn on Saturday. Coach Will Muschamp ruled out Brantley, meaning the Gators will be without their starter for a second consecutive week.

Brantley missed last week’s 41-11 loss at top-ranked Louisiana State because of a badly sprained right ankle. Freshman Jacoby Brissett started and completed 8 of 14 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions.

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