TCU didn't fold in 2012, but are the newcomers fitting in to their new home?
(Photo Courtesy: USA Today Sports)
2012 was an interesting year in the history of the Big 12. For one, it was the first year in the conference's history that they didn't have a championship game and for another they added a team that was completely outside of their footprint in West Virginia. They also added another Texas school in TCU and no one was really sure just how well these two teams would fit in to their new homes. However, after their first season in a conference known for being topsy turvy as of late, it's safe to say these two are fitting in just fine.
The knock on TCU was of course that they were stepping up into the big boy league and they'd get knocked down a hell of a lot easier. West Virginia on the other hand was coming in and expecting to compete at the top of the conference with all the returning talent. In the end these two teams ended up in the exact same spot, but their paths were far from similar.
West Virginia began the season with an easy non-conference schedule and a 3-0 record before facing off with two ranked opponents to welcome them to the conference in Baylor and Texas. The Mountaineers took down both of these Top 25 foes in spectacular shootout fashion, winning 70-63 over Baylor and 48-45 over the Longhorns. However, sitting pretty at 5-0 turned out to be a lot of smoke and mirrors as the Mountaineers' defense began to be exposed and their offense began to falter, leading to a five game losing streak in Big 12 play. They were able to salvage a bowl birth by beating Iowa State and Kansas to end the season, but it wasn't exactly the dream season some were thinking following the W over Texas.
TCU started off similar, winning their first four games including an early season Big 12 game against Kansas in dominating fashion. But then, veteran signal caller Casey Pachal was suspended for the rest of the season and the Horned Frogs went on to have one of the biggest up and down seasons in the Big 12, finding ways to win games over ranked West Virginia and Texas but lose to Iowa State and Oklahoma State during the conference season. They also found a way to hold Baylor's high powered offense in check in a W over the Bears as well.
In the end both of these teams ended at 7-6 and 4-5 in the Big 12. While those weren't winning records the devil is in the details. These two teams are part of nearly half of the conference that finished the season at 4-5 in Big 12 play. K-State and Oklahoma ended the year 8-1 in conference play, then only two more teams above .500 with 5-4 records. Everyone else finished below .500 as everyone pretty much beat up on each other and Kansas.
The one thing that didn't happen was TCU folding against higher level competition, especially given the turmoil experienced at QB and such. For West Virginia the sledding wasn't exactly the top of the league expectations that some held for this group (myself included). But for both on and off the field reasons these two teams really fit in during their first year.
TCU showed that you can win with a good offense and a dominating defense in a league that has been all about offense. West Virginia, well on the field they showed they can play the style the Big 12 loves these days. Oh, and WVU fits in well with the awesome tailgating culture the conference has.
While the jury is still out overall on the fit of these two, after all one year is not a good judge, it has become clear these two teams aren't going to be outcasts amongst the league membership to say the least.