Commentary

TCU gets boost from joining Big East

No longer have to hear about how it doesn't automatically qualify for a BCS bowl

Originally Published: December 9, 2010
By Jamie Newberg | ESPN Recruiting

While TCU and Gary Patterson never let that they weren't in a BCS conference affect them on the recruiting trail, there were times they had to deal with it. They'd face some negative recruiting because they didn't automatically qualify for a BCS bowl. For all their success -- TCU is 35-3 over the past three years, has won 10 games or more seven times since 2002 and is heading to the Rose Bowl after finishing third in the BCS standings behind Auburn and Oregon this year -- some recruits just couldn't look past that.

That's all changing now.

TCU will officially join the Big East on July 1, 2012, becoming the ninth football team in the league. The Horned Frogs will still do what they do -- hit Texas hard, as all but five of their recruits are from Texas, and three of those are from neighboring Oklahoma -- and this will only make it easier to compete for top prospects in the Lone Star State and open doors in other markets.

"The credibility [of now being in a BCS conference] is huge, just in our own state. I mean huge," Patterson said. "Just that perception will help us. This was just announced, and we are already fielding calls from recruits.

"Before, I think recruiting against some of the Big 12 schools was harder because they held that against us -- that we were not part of the BCS. Now, that doubt is eliminated."

This is also big for the eight existing Big East schools. They now have an open door to the state of Texas, a fertile recruiting land (it annually produces anywhere from 300-400 FBS prospects) that will be easier to recruit than ever before because of the exposure of playing TCU year in and year out.

"I am sure that everyone [in the Big East] would like to have a presence in Texas, but right now I don't think any of us have a foothold there," USF coach Skip Holtz said. "Certainly this has a chance to change the dynamics."

Teams are still trying to formulate a plan on how to attack this new frontier.

"I am sure we will spot recruit," Holtz said. "We will make the phone calls and send out the mailings. But this just happened, and we need to sit down and talk about it. As the head coach and guy in charge, I have to see if the time plus the labor equals dividends for USF."

The addition of TCU raises the profile of all the teams in the Big East and gives programs opportunities they never had before. Now it's up to them to make the most of it.

"I can't speak for the other schools in our league but I think we are going to try and take advantage of it," Syracuse coach Doug Marrone said. "We have good a alumni base in all the major cities in Texas. If there is interest, we will go down there and recruit those kids. We have had Texas players in the past here at Syracuse, and this will just open up doors for us. I hope we can take advantage of it."

Diamond in the rough
Who would have thought a few years ago that Boise State's Kellen Moore would be invited to New York and be one of the four finalists for the 2010 Heisman Trophy, along with Auburn's Cam Newton, Stanford's Andrew Luck and Oregon's LaMichael James?

Newton, Luck and James? They were expected to become top players. Newton and Luck were ESPNU 150 members. Newton was No. 58 in the Class of 2007 and the No. 9 QB, while Luck was ranked 61st in the Class of 2008 and the No. 7 QB. He was joined in the Class of 2008 by James, who was the No. 24 RB but just missed on making the ESPNU 150.

Meanwhile, Moore was considered a good high school player who had some work to do. He lacked the great physical tools -- great size, the big arm, speed and quickness -- and our evaluation said "with some development in his initial mechanics, he can become a solid prospect." He became much more than solid. He became the Washington Player of the Year in 2006 and without many options selected Boise State over Eastern Washington and Idaho. Former Grambling State and NFL quarterback Doug Williams once said, "It doesn't matter where you go, it's what you do once you get there." Moore proved that and now is a Heisman finalist.

Mettenberger finally makes it official
To no one's surprise, junior college quarterback Zach Mettenberger selected LSU over Texas A&M. Mettenberger, who originally signed with Georgia before transferring to Butler Community College in Kansas, made it official on Monday that he will be a Tiger.

Les Miles and LSU now have two big quarterback commitments to date, literally. Mettenberger and Stephen Rivers (Athens, Ala./Athens) are 6-foot-5.

All along LSU wanted to bring in two quarterbacks. But what happens now if ESPNU 150 member Teddy Bridgewater wants to play at LSU, too? He's a different style quarterback than Mettenberger or Rivers because he is extremely athletic and has many playing similarities to Vince Young. Plus, as a huge bonus, Bridgewater can play multiple positions. There are many out there that believe Bridgewater has more upside at the wide receiver and safety positions.

So if you are Miles, how could you turn him down? LSU also has offered quarterback Jacoby Brissett (West Palm Beach, Fla./Dwyer) and most recently Dakota Prescott (Haughton, La./Haughton).

Big week for Wake Forest
Since Sunday Jim Grobe and the Demon Deacons have picked up five commitments, giving them 14 to date. Pledging to Wake Forest were quarterback Kevin Sousa (Orlando, Fla./Lake Nona), wide receiver Curt Evans (Hollywood, Fla./Chaminade Madonna), safety Andre Wiggins (San Antonio/Madison), athlete Mike Rose (Simpsonville, S.C./Hillcrest) and cornerback Devin Gaulden (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./University School). Gaulden have previously been committed to Auburn, while Sousa was headed to Michigan.

This is a solid group of recruits headed to Winston-Salem. Grobe will have a relatively small class with some good quality, as 12 of the 14 commits are three-star prospects.

Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at jamienewbergbw@yahoo.com.