NEW YORK —
Moving up can bring a program down.
West Virginia and TCU are finding that out as Utah did before them. Rutgers, Maryland and Louisville might want to take notice.
The Mountaineers and Horned Frogs, in their second seasons in the Big 12, have both had long bowl appearance streaks snapped this season.
TCU had played in the postseason the last eight seasons and 13 of the last 14. The Horned Frogs fell to 4-7 after losing 31-30 to Kansas State on a last-second field Saturday. TCU has this week off and then plays Baylor.
“This Baylor game is going to have to be our bowl game,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said after the K-State game. “So that’s the way we’re going to approach it.”
West Virginia had been to 11 straight bowls before having its hopes for a postseason invitation end in a most unlikely place. Kansas snapped its 27-game Big 12 winning streak against the Mountaineers on Saturday with a 31-19 victory.
“Nobody’s happy with 4-7 and nobody’s happy with being home for the holidays,” coach Dana Holgorsen said. “We’re building a program and the recruiting is going to continue to get better.
“We need to step up our game as a university and continue to build facilities to stay in line with everybody else across the country. We need to continue to build our roster. Need to continue to develop our kids and have Big 12-caliber depth at all positions.”
Patterson has said he believes it will take a few years of recruiting for TCU to be able to match the depth of its Big 12 rivals.
Every team has injuries so that alone is no excuse for the woes of West Virginia and TCU, but both have had their depth severely tested. West Virginia went into the Kansas game with about a dozen key players sidelined.
In the Big East, the Mountaineers might have been able to survive such a plight. Not facing a nine-game Big 12 schedule.
TCU is also finding the Mountain West and Conference USA, where Patterson racked up double-digit win seasons and made a couple of BCS bowls, was more forgiving. While Patterson’s best TCU teams could have contended for Big 12 titles, the difference between 8-4 and 4-8 in the Big 12 can be a couple of bad bounces and few injured knees.
Utah is in its third season in the Pac-12 and could be looking at its second straight bowl-less season after breaking a string of nine straight bowl games last year.
Facing one of the toughest schedules in the country this season, the Utes (4-6) need to win their final two games against Washington State and Colorado to get bowl-eligible. And they’ll have to do so without starting quarterback Travis Wilson. Coach Kyle Whittingham announced Monday the sophomore will miss the rest of this season with a head injury.
Switching leagues wasn’t a problem for Nebraska, Texas A&M and Missouri because going from the Big 12 to the Big Ten, as the Cornhuskers did, or the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference, as A&M and Mizzou did, wasn’t as much of a jump for solid programs with a track record of success.
Rutgers, Maryland and Louisville should brace themselves.
The Scarlet Knights move from the former Big East, now the American Athletic Conference, to the Big Ten along with the Terrapins next season. The Cardinals leave the American to replace Maryland in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Scarlet Knights (5-4) appeared to be making this move on the upswing, when a year ago this week they announced it. At the time, Rutgers was in position to win the Big East and go to the BCS for the first.
It didn’t work out on the field and the Rutgers’ athletic department has faced one problem after another since. The latest being a former football player accusing an assistant coach of mistreatment.
Second-year coach Kyle Flood is already feeling heat from fans who sense the program is sliding at the worst possible time — with Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan State on next year’s schedule.
Maryland might not be ready to contend in the Big Ten immediately, but at least the Terps have been making steady improvement under Randy Edsall. They are bowl-eligible in Year 3 under the former Connecticut coach.
No. 21 Louisville would seem to be well positioned to make the transition to the ACC under Charlie Strong, but don’t get too confident Cardinals fans. Star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater won’t be around to play Florida State, Clemson, Miami and Notre Dame next season.
NEW YORK —
Moving up can bring a program down.
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