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Go east, young Horned Frogs

So, Texas Christian University is joining the Big East Conference.

In related news, Mexico has decided to join the Czech Republic and Betty White is joining the cast of “Real Housewives of Atlanta.”

OK, the Betty White thing isn’t that big of a stretch. But TCU – located in the good ol’ boy country of Fort Worth – in the Big East? What am I missing here?

The Big East already has more members than Sam’s Club and now it is expanding west. Way, way, way west. I can hardly wait for that first TCU-Seton Hall game. Has anyone in Texas ever heard of East Orange, N.J.?

Of course, what we’re witnessing is the further shaping of the college football world in this day of the BCS. Nobody wants to be left out of the Big Boys club and now TCU is in a conference that receives an automatic bid into a BCS bowl game. No longer do the Horned Frogs have to hope and pray; beginning with the 2012-13 school year they will control their own destiny.

By the way, did the Big East check the basketball credentials of TCU? Doesn’t the Big East pride itself as a hoops league? TCU plays hoops like I play the mandolin.

But we all know basketball doesn’t count. Despite what you’ve seen for the past week on ESPN and its broadcasting partners, which has aired college basketball non-stop, that sport doesn’t carry much clout. It’s college football’s world, and college basketball is just lucky to have a mattress in the corner.

I’m curious why the Big 12 didn’t make a play for TCU. Then again, the last thing the northern members of the Big 12 want is more Texas flavor in their conference. It’s not like their opinion matters, though.

TCU would have been a boon for the Big 12, which doesn’t have a team directly in the Dallas/Fort Worth media market. It would have brought the conference’s membership back to 11, after losing Nebraska (Big 10) and Colorado (Pac-10) earlier this year. I wonder if the Big 12 and TCU even had a conversation about the possibility?

Bringing the Horned Frogs to the Big 12 would have required a 12th member, most likely. And who might that have been? Houston? SMU?

As it stands, the Big East now has nine football-playing members with a standing invitation out to Villanova to be No. 10. And there are now 17 basketball teams in the conference, which spans from Chicago to Syracuse, from Tampa to Fort Worth, from Milwaukee to Washington D.C.

And we’re only just getting started in college conference re-alignment. The best could be yet to come.

* Kansas State and Kansas concluded their football regular seasons Saturday (K-State will be in a bowl game, most likely the Pinstripe Bowl in New York City) and both teams will immediately go to work on resolving defensive issues.

K-State has managed to put together a 7-5 record despite having the nation’s No. 107 defense. The Wildcats rank No. 118 out of 120 in rushing defense.

Kansas, meanwhile, is No. 100 in total defense and No. 105 against the run.

K-State gave up 41 points to North Texas on Saturday in Denton and won the game. The Wildcats’ defense has been going downhill for weeks and right now couldn’t stop Betty White (second reference to her today) and Abe Vigoda if they ran the football.

It will be interesting to see whether Bill Snyder, who never fires an assistant, will make some changes to his defensive coaching staff. First-year coordinator Chris Cosh has struggled to without his former co-defensive coordinator, Vic Koenning, who left after the 2009 season to join Ron Zook’s staff at Illinois.

In 2009, Kansas State ranked 39th nationally in total defense and 16th against the run. The decline in both areas is alarming and something the Wildcats will have to improve upon to become a Big 12 contender.

It’s almost unfair to point out the flaws for Kansas, which endured one of its most difficult seasons under new coach Turner Gill.

I don’t know where the Jayhawks’ are headed. I’m not sure Gill is the right man for this job and a new athletic director will be coming on board soon. It’s difficult to point to anything positive about Kansas football, but Gill, to his credit, sounds resolute about the future and optimistic about where the Jayhawks are headed. I’m not sure anybody else feels his excitement.

* So, according to ESPN and its “anonymous sources,” some players for the Miami Heat are unhappy with their coach, Erik Spoelstra.SpoelstraYou know, it’s these kind of stories that make it difficult to like professional athletes and what’s left of journalism, which in some cases isn’t much.

First of all, “anonymous sources” are a flimsy base on which to build a story. If players aren’t willing to come forward and identify themselves, then what do their words really mean? And why would ESPN.com be so eager to go with such unsupported accusations?

Because in the hunger to be the first with a story and to make the biggest splash, solid journalism is paying a price.

OK, I’ll get off that soapbox.

It isn’t a surprise that the Heat is reeling in the wake of its 8-7 record. Wasn’t this supposed to be the next NBA dynasty? Weren’t pundits, including yours truly, predicting a 60-win season, at least?

Instead, the Heat hasn’t been able to get on the same page. Not surprising, since the team is trying to incorporate LeBron James and Chris Bosh into a system that already had Dwyane Wade. The three superstars haven’t jelled and Spoelstra looks like he’s the victim of an idea that was never going to work, at least not until the Heat can surround the three superstars with a few other capable players.

It could be just a matter of time until Heat general manager Pat Riley comes to the sideline to coach the Heat, although it doesn’t sound like that’s something he wants to do. At least not while the team is a jumbled mess of superstar ego.

There have been reports than Spoelstra has been hesitant to get tough on the likes of James and Bosh, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. According to ESPN.com:

Exhibit A was a recent shootaround in which Spoelstra told James that he had to get more serious. The source said Spoelstra called James out in front of the entire team, telling him, “I can’t tell when you’re serious.”

“He’s jumping on them,” one source said. “If anything, he’s been too tough on them. Everybody knows LeBron is playful and likes to joke around, but Spoelstra told him in front of the whole team that he has to get more serious. The players couldn’t believe it. They feel like Spoelstra’s not letting them be themselves.”

Be themselves? You mean to tell me an NBA head coach is trying to instill some discipline into his team?

The nerve of this guy.

Gotta tell you, LeBron is really starting to irritate me. Actually, that started months ago with his televised ESPN circus when he announced he was taking his game to South Beach.

Well, how’s that sand taste, LeBron?

* Finally, I wonder how many people are watching the “Airplane” and “Naked Gun” movies today in the wake of Leslie Nielsen’s death? Bunches, I’m guessing.

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