Latest Big East addition has locals talking
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Local residents had mixed reactions Monday afternoon to the announcement that the Big East athletic conference would add Texas Christian University to the league in the 2012 season.
To some, the move didn't make geographic sense. After all, it's the Big "East" and this is a school from about as central a part of the country as possible. It would almost be like Northwestern University entering the Southeastern Conference.
Tom Romeo was one of those scratching his head.
"We're the Big East - I don't exactly see Texas in the Big East," he said.
The 45-year-old manager at Shades-N-Town in the Charleston Town Center mall wasn't sold on the idea Monday afternoon.
"I don't think it makes sense geographically or traditionally," Romeo, a WVU fan, said.
"I think it would be better getting someone like Villanova, Army or Navy, or make Notre Dame a full-time member or kick them out."
Collectibles, Etc. owner Chad Rogers, 37, was also taken aback by the move, but saw it in a positive light.
"I think it's very odd," he said.
But Rogers, a Nitro resident, said he could understand the need to add more teams to the Big East conference, which has been in danger of losing its automatic berth in the Bowl Championship Series.
He saw the addition of the No. 3-ranked Horned Frogs as a way to counter that.
"Getting a team that's been in the Top 10 the past few years, I think will help that," he said. "Maybe they're on the way to making the Big East stronger. I think it's pretty exciting; at least the Big East is doing something new."
Jim Davis, manager of The Gallery at the Town Center, used the same word to describe TCU's addition.
"That just seems like an odd place to expand the Big East - it just seems like an odd fit," the 50-year-old WVU fan said.
He also echoed Rogers' sentiment that it was time for the Big East conference to take a stand and strengthen itself.
"It'll be good to bring in new blood. The Big East needs to pick up a couple teams, that's for sure."
He looked forward to the Mountaineers playing TCU - the sooner the better.
"This'll be a tough match-up," he said. "I think it strengthens our nationwide reputation; whether we win or lose, it puts us on the nationwide stage more."
But one of his customers was dead set against it.
"I think they need to stay where they are," said die-hard Mountaineer fan and Elkview resident Heather Dolan. "They're just doing it to stay in the BCS."
Dolan's prediction if a WVU-TCU game were held today: "TCU would lose by 42 points."
Charleston attorney Tom Hancock, 28, worried what might happen down the road.
"Adding TCU sounds great now when they are experiencing a lot of football success, but it's a move the Big East will regret in the long run," he said.
He said the Horned Frogs' coach, Gary Patterson, looked like a prime target to be hired away by a more high-profile school.
"In five years, when Gary Patterson has moved on to greener pastures, their football team is mediocre again, and we are saddled with heavy travel costs and TCU's poor programs in other sports, like men's basketball, we will be sorry."
Even though Yeager Airport offers flights to the Fort Worth area, where TCU is located, Hancock, a WVU fan, said he wouldn't be among those making the trip for an away game.
"I do not see myself traveling to Fort Worth for a game," he said. "If I am going to spend that kind of money, I'll save it for a bowl game."
But not all reactions were critical. Some positives came from Marshall University fans as well.
Marshall graduate Jennings Starcher, 30, said that the TCU move was a great boost for the Big East, even though his team isn't in the conference.
"As a Marshall fan, I'm okay with TCU moving to the Big East because with this move it gives the Big East a school that will add more prestige and allow the Big East to expand, which is great for recruiting," he said.
"Overall a great move by the Big East and also allows the Big East to keep its seat at the BCS."
And in bars around town, there was already some Monday morning quarterbacking going on over the decision.
Rob Baker, 52, who works at Sam's Uptown Cafe, was one of those sharing his views Monday afternoon at the Boulevard Tavern.
"Why wouldn't you want somebody that's been so strong for the last several years to join our conference?" Baker said.
"Everyone complains about how weak the Big East is - they're a solid team. The stronger the Big East becomes the better for the Mountaineers. They might have to upgrade our coaching staff up there."
Baker argued that adding a strong team will make the conference as a whole stronger because all the teams will step up their game.
"If TCU is assumed to be the team perennially to beat, then we'll need to step up," he said. "This will raise the level of competition. Competition is what it's all about - the better the competition, the better you play."
Baker said he looked forward to the eventual meeting of WVU and TCU, saying the Mountaineers could take them on today if given the chance.
"You know, everything's not that big in Texas," he said. "If we didn't beat ourselves, we could beat anybody today."
Contact writer Jared Hunt at email@example.com or 304-348-5148.