Grading realignment winners, losers

Missouri graduates 12 seniors off this year's team. But thanks to playing in the SEC East, the Tigers have found a new recruiting pipeline in Florida to replace the Big 12-heavy state of Texas. The Tigers already have six commitments from the Sunshine State.

Missouri is also capitalizing off the momentum of its move to the SEC with a $72 million renovation project to Faurot Field, bowling in the east side of the stadium with bleacher seats.

Contending in the SEC East won't be easy. Georgia won't have injures like this every year, and someday Florida will figure out how to score again.

But Missouri has shown it can hold its own in the SEC, too.

3. TCU


The move: Mountain West to Big 12
Improved visibility: B+
Competitive standing: C-
Future outlook: B
Overall grade: B

After getting snubbed from the Big 12 at the advent of the conference in the mid-1990s, TCU finally got the invite it had long coveted.

So far, the results have been a mixed bag.

The Horned Frogs are coming off their worst season in the Gary Patterson era and failed to make a bowl game as they adjusted to the week-to-week competition in the Big 12.

Injuries, however, played a big part in TCU's struggles. And TCU appears to be better off than this year's 4-8 record would suggest.

TCU was the 48th-most-watched team, according to Sports Media Watch, which was better than any of its former Mountain West cohorts.

The Horned Frogs, located in the middle of one of the top recruiting hotbeds in the nation, have recruited better since joining the Big 12, too.

Because of its relatively small alumni base, TCU will never have the resources Texas, Oklahoma or even Oklahoma State and Texas Tech do. But armed with its recently renovated stadium and administrative stability, TCU should be able to find its footing before long in its new conference.

4. Utah


The move: Mountain West to Pac-12
Improved visibility: B-
Competitive standing: C-
Future outlook: C+
Overall grade: C+

One would think a move from a non-automatic-qualifying conference to the Pac-12 would make a program more visible. But Utah hasn't completely capitalized on that opportunity yet. In the Mountain West, Utah went to a bowl game every year from 2003 to 2010, including a 31-17 Sugar Bowl win over Alabama following the 2008 season. But the past two years, the Utes haven't qualified for a bowl. And according to Sports Media Watch, Utah was also just the 68th-most-watched team, ranking behind San Diego State, SMU and Air Force.

That said, the move to the Pac-12 was one Utah had to make. And there have been positive signs.

Before the season, the Utes brought in Dennis Erickson as offensive coordinator, which probably doesn't happen if Utah is still in the Mountain West.

The recruiting classes have improved, too. And Utah is catching up in facilities. In the spring, the Utes opened a $32 million, all-purpose football center. And next year, they'll finally reap a full share of the league's TV money.

On the field, the Utes are getting there, too. Despite the losing records, they have become a tough team at home. Utah defeated conference champ Stanford and took UCLA and Arizona State to the wire in Salt Lake City.

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