Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas thoughts

As Christmas approaches and TCU students are finishing up final exams, study up and ponder these holiday thoughts:

  • 10, 9, 8, 7…..Counting today, you have 10 shopping days left. Plenty of time to get it all done.
  • I don’t look at Christmas cards as a chore. I look at them as an opportunity to work on my penmanship.
  • High school football fans, Cowboys Stadium is your Mecca this weekend. Starting Thursday and running through Saturday, there are three state championship games per day. Check your local listings for teams and times.
  • Speaking of championships, here’s my Top 5 favorite Christmas carols:
  1. "Silent Night" – I always tear-up.
  2. "The Christmas Song" – Nat King Cole. What a voice.
  3. "O Come, All Ye Faithful" – I call it the Christmas fight song. I can hear the TCU marching band playing it!
  4. Any Christmas song by Mitch Miller – sing along with Mitch!
  5. "Jingle Bells" – strong finish to my five-song set!
  • Have I told you how last year my Christmas lights knocked out the breaker that also feeds the refrigerator in the garage? It happened while I was at the Rose Bowl. You should have seen the mess when I got back from Pasadena!
  • Speaking of Christmas lights, I’ve not gone LED yet. I’m an old-fashioned C9 big bulb fan.
  • Frog fans, start getting ready. We are six days away from the Poinsettia Bowl. This is the biggest game of the year, if you care about how TCU will launch into the Big 12 Conference. Check out Louisiana Tech. They’re good.

Finally, just a reminder that while the Christmas season tends to put us all in a rush, it’s important to slow down and take time to reach out to those most important to you and tell them how you feel about them. I know I get in a rush trying to get “things” done. Instead of concentrating on “things,” I’m trying to concentrate on “people.” I hope you’ll do the same.

Also, it’s our own responsibility to be happy at this “joyful” time of year, so whatever or whoever gets you to that place, go there!

Merry Christmas!

Kick ‘Em High!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Post-season moves and bowl games

Post-Season Moves

Congratulations to TCU co-offensive coordinator Justin Fuente. Today, he was introduced as the new head coach of the Memphis Tigers. Having worked with Justin, I can tell you that he’s a sharp, young football mind who’s on the fast track. He came to TCU through a connection with former quarterbacks coach Dick Winder (another great offensive mind). That should tell you all you need to know. Frankly, I’m surprised that TCU was able to hang onto him this long. Good luck to Justin.

Strange state in Arizona

What a weird situation yesterday at Arizona State? First, they offer June Jones the job and then later pull the offer because a few well-placed alums didn’t care for the choice. Do they know what they just did to their search effort? How does the AD feel? Hiring a head coach is hard enough without the perception that a program’s support base is divided and really doesn’t know what it wants. Who wants to walk into a situation like that? Good luck to the Sun Devils as they compete with several other programs for a coach while dealing with the “now you’re our guy, now you’re NOT” syndrome.

Cancelling Bowl Games

Forgive me for picking and choosing among the 35 bowl games on the docket, but let’s get real here. If you have 35 games, that means 70 teams go to post-season play. With only 120 FBS teams, that means 50 teams must stay home. Keeping in mind that I’m using the old-school “7 wins = Bowl Bid theory." Here are some others who should stay at home as well along with complete wipeouts:

  • Marshall (6-6) – Thundering?? Really?
  • Arizona State (6-6) – They don’t even have a head coach and just bungled a hiring. Study Hall should be the holiday destination for this program.
  • Purdue (6-6) – Simmering, definitely not boiling.
  • Iowa State (6-6) – Should the Oklahoma State win count as two? If so, then let the Pinstripe Bowl (George Steinbrenner is laughing somewhere) go on.
  • Music City Bowl – CANCELLED due to lack of wins. Mississippi A&M and Wake Forest have 12 losses between them. Geez.
  • Texas Bowl – CANCELLED – Coachless Texas Agricultural & Mechanical College faces Northwestern – they both have 6-shooters full of losses, too!
  • Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl – CANCELLED. How about fight losses? UCLA has 7, Illinois has 6. This could be called the No Coach Bowl as both teams are looking.
  • Vanderbilt (6-6) – OK, they were only 5 games worse in the win column than Alabama, which didn’t make it to the SEC Championship game, either.
  • Gator Bowl – CANCELLED. Another Dirty Dozen Losses matchup in Jacksonville with losses equaling wins. Winner takes on the Jags.
  • Pitt (6-6)—Thank goodness, it’s basketball season. Maybe Jamie Dixon can help ease the pain.

Kick ‘Em High!

Monday, December 5, 2011

No heartache here

For many schools and fans, the college football season is over…at least for their team. Before you get too worked up over the Frogs not reaching a BCS Bowl, consider these nuggets:
  • You can’t get there by losing to SMU.
  • I remember (and so can many) when TCU’s bowl appearances post-1960 could be counted on three fingers – 1965 Sun, 1984 Bluebonnet and 1994 Independence. Count ‘em! Three in 30 seasons. All losses by the way.
  • TCU is one of just 12 programs nationally to play in a bowl game in 13 of the last 14 seasons.
  • TCU (10-2) has reached the 10-win mark for the fourth straight year and eighth time in the last 10 seasons under Patterson. Prior to his arrival on campus in 1998, the Horned Frogs had just four 10-win seasons in their history.
While the Sugar Bowl was tantalizingly close, and Frog fans have become accustomed to their bowl flight “upgrades” to Tempe and Pasadena the last two seasons, one must remember that this 2011 TCU team overcame and over-delivered. The Frogs had lost 27 seniors off a Rose Bowl championship team, the secondary was untested and Andy Dalton was living in Cincinnati. This team sat at 3-2 on October 1st. “Dead-in-the-water” was the description many uttered.

Meanwhile, Coach P and staff kept pushing and probably did their best job of coaching in the Patterson era.

My advice to all: Don’t take any bowl for granted. As my dad says, “It’s a short trip from the penthouse to the outhouse.”

And if you haven’t lifted a glass to the 2011 Horned Frogs, today would be a good day.

Kick ‘Em High!

Friday, December 2, 2011

UNLV and the coaching carousel

Coaching Carousel
Well, it’s that special time of the year, again, coaches getting fired and athletics directors hurrying to fill vacancies. Hurry, only 23 shopping days! Most want to have their guy hired before bowl season is over. It’s good PR to announce the new hire during bowl season, and it gives the new staff a head start on recruiting and trying to salvage whatever commitments the former staff had. So far, Bob Davie (New Mexico), Rich Rodriguez (Arizona), Urban Meyer (Ohio State) and Mike Leach (Washington State) are winners in “The New Best Coach” contest and there are more to come. Those interested should send resumes to Arizona State, UCLA, Kansas, Illinois, UAB, Memphis, Ole Miss, oops, and I nearly forgot Penn State. Must have own tools.

Sherman’s March is Over
Oh, wait….this just in: Believe it or not, the Aggies are not satisfied and fired Coach Mike Sherman. As Santa would say, “On Dasher, On RC, on Fran and on Sherman!”
As Roger Daltry would ask, “Who’s Next?”

Allow me to share with you all my soul-searching analysis on the NBA ending its labor dispute and starting the shortened season………………(add toner)

Season-Ending Trivia
Did you know that tomorrow’s season finale against UNLV is the second latest home game date since 1934. Only the 1963 final home game vs. Rice, on December 7, was played later.

The Rebels are the only thing standing between the Frogs and their third straight MWC title. While I look for the Frogs to open it up on the Rebels and win big, here’s what you need to know about this team from the “Bright Light City:”

  • UNLV head coach Bobby Hauck is a good coach. He took Montana to the FCS playoffs seven straight years.
  • UNLV likes to run the ball and they are physical. Look for running backs Tim Cornett and Dionza Bradford. They give the Rebels a real running threat.
  • UNLV has won two games this year and has a 15-game road losing streak.
  • The offensive line is an issue when UNLV tries to pass. They’ve given up 32 sacks. Hello, Stansly Maponga!
  • The Rebels have started three different quarterbacks this year.
  • Pass defense is not a strong suit – the Rebels give up 253 yards per game through the air, good for No. 97 in the nation and dead-last in the MWC.

Seniors 2011
Regardless of weather, make sure you’re at Amon G. Carter Stadium tomorrow to say goodbye to a TCU senior class that with a win Saturday will notch victory No. 46. Nineteen Frogs will make the run out of the tunnel for the last time tomorrow and let me assure you, there will be tears. It’s a very emotional time.

Bowl Vibes
TCU’s bowl destination is still up in the air. IF you have BCS desires, the cheer hard this weekend for Southern Miss, LSU, Texas and Michigan State. If any of those four lose, then it’s Vegas or San Diego. I like the beach.

Hoops goes for 3
The TCU Men’s Basketball team heads to Evansville Saturday to try to make it three wins in a row and the women’s team smoked Houston, 80-35, yesterday while holding the Lady Cougs without a field goal for a 9-minute stretch!

Enjoy Championship Weekend!

Kick ‘Em High!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

2011 season was a blur

Swift Season
Doesn’t it seem like we were just getting over the loss to Baylor? As I look back on the blur that is the 2011 TCU football season, many things come to mind. Here are the main things on which to focus your purple microscope:

  • Gary Patterson knows his team and how to steer them around obstacles. He told me back in May that he hoped to win eight games with this group and, after a two-loss September, I bet many of you doubted the Frogs’ ability to win that many. The entire coaching staff deserves a pat on the back.
  • Following last year and the Rose Bowl win, the potential pitfalls were many. The main thing was not to be this year’s “Texas,” which crashed and burned in 2010 after getting to the National Championship game the previous January. Check that box – no purple UT here.
  • This team is going to finish the regular season 10-2 and the 19 TCU seniors will have a chance to notch win No. 47 in a bowl game – an all-time record. To frame this accomplishment for you, Andy Dalton and Co. won 44.
  • Speaking of Andy, is anyone really surprised?
  • Casey Pachall is the man. He left Waco that way and reminded you in Boise.
  • Tank Carder is a special player. Realize it now and enjoy watching him these last two games.
  • An offensive line’s value is in its ability to operate as a unit – no more evident than this year.
  • The three-headed monster at running back works, especially at this time of year.

Hoops Success in Houston
The Frogs gave one away and then stole it back last Saturday in Houston, beating the Cougars, 81-80, on J.R. Cadot’s flip at the buzzer. This team has heart. Check them out this week against Lamar Wednesday night at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. Don’t forget the Big XII preview on Dec. 6 when Texas Tech and new coach Billy Clyde Gillespie come to call.

Since You Asked
The Frogs’ BCS Bowl chances are still alive. This weekend, get your colors on for the following teams: LSU, Southern Miss, Michigan State and (yes) Bevo.

Kick ‘Em High!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Thanksgiving Top 25 poll

On the day before Thanksgiving, I pause to list things for which I give thanks. As with the Associated Press poll, there are always some things out of order, but my question to you is, “What’s on your list?”

Here’s my Thanksgiving Top 25:

1. My family – Both of my parents are in their mid-80’s and they're both still with us. We’ll all be at their house tomorrow.

2. My siblings – My two sisters and my brother – As we all approach middle age, we’re all close and still talking to one another – as I get older, I understand the importance (and rarity) of that.

3. My wife, Linda. I tell her often that she saved my life. She laughs. She does make my life great.

4. My two daughters – I might as well have two lighthouses at home, they show me the way. I’m trying to show them in return.

5. My health — I’m fortunate to have few maladies. Although my current playing weight could be reduced.

6. Friends — there’s nothing like having extended family made up of good friends. Hold them close. Starting with Halloween 2010, I’ve lost sixTCU teammates way too young.

7. Brian Estridge — a guy who puts up with me and makes every broadcast fun. If you think Saturdays in the fall are good, you should be me.

8. TCU — a place that provided and unbelievable experience and education when I was young and, now, continues to provide those in my job every day.

9. My grandparents — my first memories of Thanksgiving all include them and/or their homes.

10. Jim Wacker — I think about him every day. Looking way back, he was the tip of the sword in TCU’s football resurgence. Unbelieeevable!

11. The kicking game

12. The Big 12 Conference.

13. Chris Del Conte – an AD who realized what No. 12 means to all of us Frogs. And made it happen.

14. The Frog Club staff – A group that works hard for our donors every day.

15. Texas – the state.

16. All TCU coaches – they work hard and their jobs aren’t easy. Just follow one around one day.

17. Freedom.

18. The USA – I haven’t been out of the country in nine years, but I do remember being so glad get back home.

19. Golf

20. Jalapeno-cheese sausage.

21. My Chevy Tahoe

22. 2 point conversions on blue turf.

23. Radio – a job I always wanted.

24. Wanda, my border collie. Coach P should recruit her – she’s fast and smart.

25. Pumpkin pie (with lots of whipped cream!)

Post-Game Report on Dancing With The Frogs
As many of you know, last Friday I was lucky enough to be one of the celebrity dancers in Dancing With The Frogs. Crystal Taylor, my dance partner, and I danced the Foxtrot and finished with a score of 47 out of a possible 50 points. Although we fell short of the coveted “Mirror Ball” trophy, it was a great experience. My thanks to Crystal for being a great coach and a super dance partner.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Kick ‘em High!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Colorado State, the weather and fancy footwork

Some thoughts on a Friday ...

Jammin’ in the Virgin Islands

If Bob Marley was still around, we’d get him to do a rewrite for the Frogs Men’s basketball team, who play Virginia this afternoon at the Paradise Jam tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Look for the Frogs to make a statement in this one.

Side Out!

The TCU Women’s Volleyball team opens MWC Tournament play in Albuquerque today against who-else? Boise State! How about another 2-point win in the deciding game today? The Lady Frogs enter postseason with a record of 22-6.

Is it really November?

Weather experts are calling for sunny and 75 degrees tomorrow at Amon G. Carter Stadium. What other excuse do you have for not showing up?

Frogs on a Mission for a 3-peat

The environment around the TCU Football offices this morning are as they should be: all business. The Frogs have given themselves the inside track to the MWC Championship, which would be their third in a row. Here's a few things to know about Colorado State:
  • A mentally-tough team that has had some bad luck this year, mainly injuries and last-minute losses.
  • One of the best defensive minds in the game, defensive coordinator Larry Kerr, has the Rams coming from all angles.
  • Linebacker Mychal Sisson can play and returns to the field for the first time since breaking his ankle on September 10. He’s a difference-maker. He’s also from Duncanville.
  • CSU’s defense is physical. They knocked both of San Diego States running backs out of the game last week – one of them, Aztec Walter Kazee, is done for the season.
  • Gametime decision on quarteback Pete Thomas, who was injured last week against San Diego State. If he can’t go, the Rams start a freshman at QB.
  • In summary, CSU reminds me of some of the TCU teams that I played on in the early 1980’s — a tough-luck bunch, riddled with injuries but always dangerous and very capable on defense and in the kicking game. This is not a team to take lightly.

Dancing with the Frogs

Tonight, I have the honor of participating as a dancer in the TCU Clark Society’s production of Dancing With the Frogs. It’s TCU’s version of the popular TV show, "Dancing With the Stars." My dance partner, Crystal Taylor, has been great to work with, very patient and she has me coached-up on the Foxtrot! Being that the only leg work I’ve done in front of a live audience involved kicking a football, you may want to stay tuned for results.

Kick ‘em High!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Takeaways from Boise

Takeaways from Boise:
  • This TCU team has heart. While it is a young team, they hang in and find a way to win.
  • TCU may be the most underrated team in the nation – ranked No. 19 and 11 points from being undefeated.
  • While not utilized much last Saturday, the TCU running game, and the threat of it, opened up the play-action passing game.
  • TCU’s wide receivers are rock-solid. Hardly a drop last Saturday and they got open despite being held much of the game.
  • Seldom-used wide receiver No. 83 Jonathan Jones made a great catch and run on the winning drive. Did you know his dad, Paul, was a starting defensive end on TCU’s 1984 Bluebonnet Bowl team?
  • Casey Pachall put the ball where it was easy to catch – touch pass, hard throw or deep ball, he can make them all.
  • The leaders of TCU’s offense is the offensive line. How about this “lunch pail” bunch emerging from the ashes of fall camp and taking the lead? O-Line coach Eddie Williamson does it again.
  • Antonio Graves is a weapon on special teams.
  • Boise is a nice town. Go visit and tell me you didn’t like it. Kinda has an Austin feel to it. (This message NOT sponsored by the Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau.)
  • Just when I think I’ve found a great officiating crew, they disappoint me.
  • At the end of the day Saturday, the turf wasn’t the only thing blue in Boise.
  • The live bronco on display at the stadium and the dog fetching Boise State’s kickoff tee were cool. Those things are what make college football great.
  • Tank Carder said the Frogs didn’t shock the world Saturday, just reminded them. Agreed.

Conference Moves
Conversations in Boise included the tremors that Boise State is indeed headed to the Big East. What a stretch.

Work to Do
TCU offensive lineman Kyle Dooley told me that he’s quickly put away the Boise State game. Says you can’t live in the moment of one game and play the next. He and his line mates are focused on the MWC Championship, as is this entire team. Two more to go.

Senior Success
With the win at Boise State, this year’s senior class now has 44 wins, tying it for the most ever with last year’s Rose Bowl seniors. Fathom this: if these seniors can win the last two games and a bowl game, they’ll finish their careers with 47 wins! Back in my day, we won 15.

Hoop Thoughts
Jim Christian and the Frogs are off to the Virgin Islands today to compete in the Paradise Jam tournament. Good luck and safe travels to this preseason tournament. The Frogs face ACC icon Virginia on Friday. And let me be the first to tell you I told you so. This Frog team is capable.

Finally, a friend of mine sent me the following. If you’re a “baby boomer,” you’ll get it. If not, Google the terms. Enjoy!

If you were raised on "Hee Haw," had a crush on any of the Dukes or Charlie's Angels, believed Captain Kangaroo was a real captain, only watched cartoons on Saturday morning, played in the dirt, got your butt whipped with a belt or had to pick your own switch, had a rotary phone, had five TV channels, school started with the "pledge," had a bedtime, rode in back of pickup trucks, recorded the Top 40 from radio onto cassette tapes, played in the creek, rode your bike all day without a helmet and you still turned out okay. Those were the good times.

Don't forget to drink from a garden hose.

Kick ‘em High!

Friday, November 11, 2011

From Penn State to Blue Turf

Penn State
Who could have ever imagined the surreal, disorienting, unimaginable story unfolding at Penn State? So many people involved and the story is only about half unfolded. Just goes to show you what can happen when two or three people exercise bad judgment and forget that wrong is wrong. Sometimes way wrong. Say a prayer for the whole bunch.

Joe Paterno
What a shame that a guy with a history of success and integrity in college football has it end like this. Aside from not taking appropriate action, Joe’s other mistake may have been hanging around too long.

TCU Women’s Volleyball
Congratulations to Prentice Lewis and the women’s volleyball program on their big 3-2 victory last night over Colorado State. CSU was ranked No. 24 in the nation. Nice work

TCU Men’s Basketball
Jim Christian & Co. get it going tonight against Florida-Gulf Coast at 7 p.m. at DMC with a lanky lineup. Here’s wishing Jim and the team the best for a successful season.

TCU Women’s Basketball
Likewise for Jeff Mittie and the Lady Frogs who tip-off 2011-12 tonight in Athens, Georgia against the Georgia Bulldogs! Make it a great year.

Blue Turf
Here I sit at Bronco Stadium in Boise looking down on the famous blue turf. In person, it’s not as imposing or distracting as one would think. Just looks like somebody in the Boise State purchasing department made a mistake when ordering.

Things to know about Boise State:
  • Kellen Moore has never thrown a touchdown pass against TCU. Frogs need to hassle him and bring the heat tomorrow.
  • The Frogs’ defense will be tested — time for the D to bring their best game of the year.
  • This game features two quarterbacks with Pass Efficiency Ratings in the Top 10 — Moore is No. 4 in the nation, Pachall No. 8.
  • The Frogs’ running game could be a problem for Boise State, who gave up 264 on the ground to Air Force, 269 to Nevada and 250 to Utah State. Run the ball and you run the clock and you minimize Kellen Moore’s opportunities. This may be the biggest key to the game.
  • Look for the kicking game to be big in this one. Boise State has blocked seven kicks in eight games this year. Nobody returns kickoffs better than TCU.
  • Third down is big. The Frogs need to get Boise State off the field and convert their own third downs to keep Kellen Moore on the bench. Meanwhile, BSU leads the nation in third-down defense at 26 percent.

Tune in and Turn It Up
Brian Estridge and I are on the air at 1:30 p.m. CT tomorrow on the TCU Sports Network on 820AM/96.7FM WBAP, 88.7FM KTCU and We’ll talk to you then.

Kick ‘em High!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Smokin' Joe and the under-the-radar Frogs

Remembering Smokin’ Joe

“Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!”

That famous call by Howard Cosell used to make my stomach turn.

Still does.

You see, growing up in Dallas in the 1970s, I was a Joe Frazier fan – and I was in the minority. There was something about him I liked. Probably that he kept his mouth shut, and just kept coming at his opponents like a mole from underground, always looking for that killer upper cut. He was tough, too. I liked that.

Although he was overshadowed by Ali, Frazier had style, too. I liked the cool blue paisley trunks he wore when he beat Ali in Madison Square Garden in 1971. I was in third grade and my parents made me turn off the radio and go to sleep. “It’s a school night,” Elouise Denton quipped.

The next morning, when I awoke to hear Frank Glieber on KRLD Radio report that Frazier had won, I was pumped. How fun it was to walk through the halls of Mark Twain Elementary School with 500 “I told ya so’s to hand out.

We all start to show our age when we fawn for the “good old days.” That occurred yesterday when the news came down that Smokin’ Joe had died.

I had the good fortune to meet Joe Frazier back in 2006 in Dallas. He was at a fundraiser, and I cornered the champ at the pre-event reception. He was funny and approachable and seemed to appreciate my vivid memory of his win that night in New York. He liked to talk about the good times. It seemed unreal, but for 15 minutes, it was me and Joe Frazier, talking about the sport that had been so good to him.

I asked him when boxing was going to get back to the stature that it had during the Ali-Frazier era. He turned sentimental, the smile left his face. He paused, then said, “That was a different time and boxing was in a different place. I don’t know if it will ever get back to when they let fighters be fighters.”

Well said, Smokin’ Joe. We’ll miss ya!

Forgetting the Frogs?

It seems to me that many around the country have forgotten the Frogs. With two losses, the Men in Purple have gone undercover to some experts. The seven wins are lost on pollsters who have just barely let TCU climb back in the polls before this week’s donnybrook with Boise State. As of this morning, Vegas had the Frogs as a 15-point underdog. When was the last time that happened? Fifteen points?

Now I know – we’re talking No. 5 Boise, the blue turf and the voodoo of Bronco Stadium. However, check the Frogs’ accordion file and you’ll find nice work in places like Salt Lake City, Clemson, Provo and Norman – all road venues, all against ranked and very tough opponents. Pardon me if I suggest that the school of thought and attention should turn to the outcome of the previous three games played by these two teams. A total of 11 points separates winner from loser in the three previous contests – TOTAL.

These two programs are the lighthouses for the “little guys” (hello, Brent Musberger) and change in college football. Boise’s had its Fiesta. TCU’s had its Rose. The fans will have this Saturday – and it will be a good one.

More on the Broncos later in the week.

Kick 'em high!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Wyoming preview: Put another log on the fire!

Frog Fans et al:

From just south of the Colorado-Wyoming state line on Interstate 25, here's your scouting report on the Wyoming Cowboys and other factors like, say, the weather.

  • Gametime weather is looking like mid-20s with snow blowing west to east at 30 to 40 mph. The cross wind will make it tough on those throwing and kicking the ball.
  • Wyoming's freshman quarterback Brett Smith has breathed life into the Cowboys' offense. They are truly a balanced attack and Smith can run. Last week against San Diego State, Wyoming racked up 396 yards and 30 points in the first half! They are dangerous.
  • On the other side if the ball, not so much. The Cowboys' D is giving up 30 points per game and 440 yards per contest. They also have suffered from the "big play flu," most recently giving up a 99-yard touchdown run last week to San Diego State running back Ronnie Hillman. Hello, Ed Wesley!
  • TCU's defense is improving rapidly and pressure is better each week. Look for the Wyoming freshman quarterback to get a big dose of Frog heat on this cold day.
  • Saturday is National College Football Day. I know you may not have realized that this holiday is upon us, so fire up the grill and enjoy a beverage in honor of the great game of 100 yards and the oblong spheroid.
  • We're on the air tomorrow at noon Central Time on the TCU Sports Network. Tune in for a temperature and wind chill update.
  • And put another log on the fire, boys. It's going to be a cold one tonight!
Kick ‘Em High!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Big 12, hoops and the stretch run

Some midweek thoughts on my mind:

Big 12 Expansion

Sing along with me:
“Come and listen to my story ‘bout a man named Jed….poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed…..”

OK, TCU fans – here come the Mountaineers! As a long-time member of the Big 12 Conference, let’s welcome Jed and the rest of the Mountaineers of West Virginia to our fair enclave of college athletics.

And you better be ready.

All this talk about the old days of the SWC is perfect and WVU fits right in. They’re our new Arkansas.

For those who made the trip to Fayetteville back in the day, it was a treat. A remote location with the greatest, loudest fans who let you know from the time you set foot outside the visitors’ locker room that you were a local call away from Hell, and they kept it coming all game long.

Make your plans now to experience Morgantown. And leave your good clothes at home – you might get something poured on them.

I experienced the wrath of WVU first-hand in the 1984 Bluebonnet Bowl! WVU showed up in force in Houston, and that Mountaineer fired that musket so many times inside the Astrodome that my ears rang well after the ballgame was over. WVU won 31-14, by the way.

Welcome WVU to the Big 12!

Frogs over BYU

The best thing about the Frogs’ win over BYU last Friday night is that they escaped with a win AND relatively unscathed injury-wise. BYU is a big, physical team and generally grinds teams up and leaves opponents in a mess physically.

Second best thing about the Frogs win last Friday: It took my mind off the painful last two games of the World Series. To Ron Washington and all the Rangers: Thanks for a great season and we all feel your pain.

Time to be Healthy!

Thankfully, the Frogs are healthy as they enter this two-game gauntlet that involves a Wyoming team that’s very dangerous, and then there’s Boise State. Oh, and don’t forget the weather. Forecasts are calling for temps in the upper 20s and snow at game time. I can hear the voice of NFL Films, John Facenda, right now: “The frozen tundra of Laramie, Wyoming.” No kidding.

Hoop It Up

Basketball season is here and the Frogs and Lady Frogs are well under way. Jeff Mittie’s team is a little bit beat up at the moment, but they’ll get there. Meanwhile, Jim Christian has the longest, most athletic team he’s put on the floor in his time at TCU. Look for good things from both of these squads.


Happy Birthday to Jeff Williams, our sideline reporter on the TCU Sports Network. He’s the best in college football, and this weekend he will prove it as he works the Wyoming game in a T-shirt! Not really, he’ll be bundled up.

Kick ‘Em High!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Things to know about BYU

Friday is game day this week. Did you know that the Frogs play on Friday for the second time this year and the third time in the last two seasons? The Baylor game this year and the SMU game in Dallas in 2010 are the other two games.

More on things to know about BYU:

  • The series with BYU is tied 5-5.
  • Even though it feels like a MWC game, this is the first non-conference game between TCU and BYU since 1988.
  • This is the first game between TCU and BYU played on artificial turf since BYU’s trip to Amon G. Carter Stadium in 1987, which the Frogs won 33-12. A fast track favors the Frogs!
  • BYU is much improved and more physical on both sides of the ball than in past years. They are most improved at linebacker, where USC transfer, No. 4 Uona Kaveinga, and No. 44 Brandon Ogletree anchor the 3-4 defense for BYU. They’ll throw a lot of five-man fronts at the Frogs trying to stop the run.
  • BYU has some great wide receivers – big surprise! They are bigger than in the past with No. 2 Cody Hoffman at 6-foot-4 and No. 11 Ross Apo (who originally signed with Texas) at 6-foot-3. Don’t forget Southlake Carroll’s McKay Jacobson, who had a big day against TCU in 2006. He can run, too.
  • Not the expected starter at quarterback for the Cougars. Riley Nelson came off the bench against Utah State and never looked back – throwing for 11 touchdowns so far in 3-plus games. He’s a dangerous dual-threat QB who can make plays with his feet. He has added a new dimension to BYU’s offense, while leaving original starter Jake Heaps in the dust.
  • The Frogs catch a BYU team looking for its sixth-straight win.
  • The Frogs' defense will need to continue the roll it’s been on harassing quarterbacks with pressure and covering tight in the secondary.
  • It’s going to be a beautiful night for football, and word is that the roof at Cowboys Stadium will be open.
  • This will be a physical, physical football game won by the team that takes care of the football and wins in the kicking game. Special teams have to be special in this one!

Kick ‘Em High! And Go Rangers!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mid-week memo

As we wish the Rangers good luck in bringing home the World Series Championship (remember, I said Rangers in 6), here are a few things to knock around the ball yard:

  • The last five – The Horned Frogs enter a critical stretch with the last five games headlined by a collision with BYU on Friday. This will be a physical, physical game. They always are, but this one is different. BYU is much improved and they're more physical on both sides of the ball. Then it’s off to Laramie, Wyo., where it’s likely to be in the 20s and snowing. Then a quick turnaround for a trip to Boise, you know, that game you’ve had circled on your calendar. That Boise St. game is huge for MWC title hopes, but the Frogs have to take care of business twice before they try to win their Own Private Idaho. (Any B-52’s fans out there?)
  • QB Matt Brown – I like the change of pace he provides and you have to look for him. He sneaks into the game like James Bond (Anyone remember Robert Redford in "Brubaker"?) Look for more of “Sneaky Matt.”
  • Frog legs are live – Coach Gary Patterson says the Frogs got their legs back during they off week and I agree. The defensive line, especially, has looked like it has hit another gear in the last two outings.
  • Speaking of the defense -- Have you noticed how this young bunch is starting to fly around. No more hesitation. They fly to the ball. They’ll need to continue that trend this Friday.
  • No QB controversy – OK, you contraversists (is that a word), meaning those who like to stir it up. No, Casey Pachall’s job is not in jeopardy after last weekend’s open-field antics by the Frogs' No. 15 Rick Settle. Settle had a much-deserved moment in the sun against New Mexico in a tough situation. He wasn’t supposed to score on that 9-yard run, but there was no one to stop him so he had to put points 63-68 on the board. Congrats to a guy who contributes much under the radar everyday. And he wears a cool jersey number!
  • Big 12 news – If you like mountains and Mountaineers, looks like you’re in luck. Word is the mountaineer will fire his muzzle-loader signaling the move sometime this week. (Or maybe Louisville tags along too.)

More on BYU tomorrow. And go Rangers.

Kick ‘Em High!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sympathy for New Mexico on Homecoming

Well, it’s Homecoming Friday on University Drive and that brings back a lot of alums and even more memories. Whether you went to TCU six years ago or 60, there’s something special about this weekend. Enjoy it, Frogs!

Gary Patterson calls the visiting New Mexico Lobos a “dangerous” football team. He’s right, but they may be more dangerous to themselves than anyone else. The Lobos come into Saturday’s game as one of two teams in the nation who don’t have a win. I’m talkin’ O-Fer 2011. Can you name the other? (Florida Atlantic)

New Mexico recently fired head coach Mike Locksley. It wasn’t his fault. He should have never been hired. New Mexico vice president Paul Krebs has admitted that very fact, and the Lobos are trying to recover from a tailspin that’s become a nightmare, believe me. I went through a similar situation when TCU fired then-head coach F.A. Dry with one game to go in the 1982 season. It was a sad week, with players leaving, assistant coaches bolting for the USFL and other jobs and the team left with Coach Dry and 4 assistants to go to College Station and play the one game and finish out the Dry era at TCU. It was the worst week of my college career and for many reasons. It was bad enough for one week. I can’t imagine having to go through that for eight games as the New Mexico Lobos are right now. They’re changing schemes, they have massive injury issues, especially along the defensive line. They’re trying the wildcat formation and, most of all, they’re trying to forget the Locksley era, in which UNM posted two wins versus 26 losses.

This won’t be much of a game tomorrow, folks. Consider that New Mexico is giving up an average of 44 points per game to opponents and have registered just five sacks in six games. Look for a 3-2-6 alignment on defense tomorrow and a gambling style that will blitz from all angles in a “damn the torpedoes” strategy. Note to fans: the torpedoes have already hit the USS UNM.

By the way, while you’re at the game tomorrow, look for the 1951 Southwest Conference Champions this weekend. They’re celebrating their 60th anniversary and they’ll be on the field at the end of the 1st quarter. Now that was a team!

Enjoy Homecoming!

Kick ‘Em High!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

5 W’s on a Wednesday

Questions are circling in my mind as we begin the second half of football season with the Frogs and New Mexico this weekend:

WHO is going to win the World Series? I’m going with the Rangers. I love looking at their lineup that’s full of speed, power and depth. There’s no way to pitch around them and, if you do, you’ll pay. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy as St. Louis has been really hot over the last 2 months (and the Rangers’ starting pitching was iffy in the ALCS), but I still think it’s the Rangers’ time. Besides, I want to see the Rangers raise that world championship pennant next April on Opening Day 2012, which will be almost exactly 40 years since I attended the Rangers’ first-ever game at the old Arlington Stadium in April 1972. By the way, the Rangers won that game over the Angels, 7-6.

Rangers in 6.

WHAT is Missouri thinking? The SEC is no place for a program that will replace Arkansas as the “Neptune” of that league. No, Arkansas is not going anywhere. By that I mean that Mizzou will be way out on the edge of a league whose fans still barely recognize Arkansas as a member, even after 20 years. And if Truman the Tiger does bolt for what I call the “Super Elite Conference”, does that open the Big 12 door for BYU or Louisville? Word is the SEC is out to get to 14 teams. Stay tuned.

WHEN will the NBA figure out that the last thing it needs is a lockout/strike? That league is on its way to being the next NHL if the owners and the players don’t wake up and realize that the NFL and Major League Baseball are leaving it behind. Sure, the NBA is hot in North Texas but that’s because of the Mavs’ recent championship. How would you like to be a sales rep for the New Jersey Nets (24-58 last year) right about now?

WHERE will all those visiting Big 12 fans park their RVs when they come to TCU for football games next year? Believe me, it’s being worked on.

WHY should the Frogs be concerned about the 0-6 New Mexico Lobos? Well, besides percentages working in the Lobos’ favor (sooner or later they’ll win a game), New Mexico has some really good receivers and they’re playing better since they rid themselves of former head coach Mike Locksley, who won 2 games in 2+ seasons in Albuquerque and was in trouble from the start. Add to it that the Frogs must get their motors running again after a much-needed off week. More on this one later in the week.

Kick ‘Em High!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Monday Madness & Midseason Report

Well, here we are, fresh off a trip to San Diego and a win over the Aztecs. Now the Frogs get a much-needed week off.

Just so you don’t get bored over the off week, here are a few things to spark conversation with friends:

  • Although the sting of the Baylor loss is still with us, can you believe we’re at the halfway point of the season? Six gone and six to go, and it should be an interesting stretch drive to the finish.
  • At 4-2, the Frogs are just outside the Associated Press Top 25. They’ll be back.
  • Oh, by the way, the Frogs are 2-0 in Mountain West Conference play – still on course for a conference championship. Just making sure that’s not lost on Frog fans.
  • Ed Wesley is an extreme talent at running back and his return and continued health is a huge key to the rest of the season. Matthew Tucker is stomping on defenders and Waymon James runs too low to tackle, but “EW” is a difference-maker.
  • Did you see Antoine Hicks Saturday night? He needs to stay on that roll.
  • The offensive line is an amazing story of a group of interchangeable parts that continue to baffle opponents and so-called experts who said this group was the weak link of the offense. Not.
  • TCU’s young secondary showed sparks Saturday night. They continue to improve and the interceptions by Johnny Fobbs and Jason Verrett were healthy signs that this unit is starting to play with confidence and instinct.
  • Linebacker Kris Gardner had the best game of his career against San Diego State. He’ll be important the rest of the season as linebackers continue to get beat up.
  • Defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey is a beast. Had a big sack against San Diego State and made a bone-jarring hit on the goal line on Aztec ruunning back Walter Kazee. Ouch.
  • Punter Anson Kelton just needs to kick the ball. Forget everything else and unload on it.
  • Ross Evans is hitting the ball better than at any time in his TCU career. His 46-yarder against the Aztecs would have been good from 60 or more.

The Big XII

TCU Trustees and officials will begin reviewing the details of the invitation to the Big XII today. Look for an announcement quickly – maybe even tonight. It will be a great day for TCU and the future of TCU Athletics.

Change of address cards are on order.

Kick ‘Em High!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Three “thank you” notes to write

Wow, where to start on another great Friday during football season??

We as Americans love our national holidays, and the Frog Nation now has two additional dates to commemorate and on which to “Fly Your Flag:"

  • January 1, 2011
  • October 6, 2011

What a year it has been!

It’s easy to make an argument that yesterday was one of the all-time historic days in TCU Athletics. TCU, your TCU, the prodigal son of college football for the last 17 years, came home. Grab the fatted calf, it’s time for a party. And while you’re lifting a purple margarita, grab your “thank you” notes. We have people to thank.

Note No. 1 needs to go to the Big East Conference — a league that had the foresight and the good will to invite TCU and gave the Frogs validation as a worthy member of an “Automatic Qualifier” conference. Without ever playing a game in the Big East,TCU gained a whole new respect nationwide and, more importantly, started some other league to thinking.

Note No. 2 goes west. Not sure if you address it to the Pac-10 or the Pac-12, but you know where to send it. It’s the league that told the University of Texas to stay back in their Big XII corner. "Take your Longhorn Network and go home." The Pac-12’s rejection of Bevo put the Big XII back on firm footing and made TCU look like a viable option. This is when things turned TCU’s way.

Note No. 3. Lick a stamp (oops, you don’t have to lick stamps anymore, do you?) and send this note to “Dollar Bill” Byrne and the brain trust at Texas A&M. The Aggies are so worried about what UT is doing that it finally drove them crazy. Crazy enough to join the SEC. Their vacated spot in the Big XII turned from maroon to purple. Thanks! And Gig ‘em!

And here’s another thing to anticipate and get goose bumps about: it looks like the Frogs will pick up the Aggies’ Big XII football schedule for 2012. No promises, but how about TCU-UT on Thanksgiving? Pass the cranberry sauce!

In other business, don’t forget that the 3-2 Frogs are on their way today to San Diego to take on an Aztecs team that has more offensive weapons than SMU. This is a big game, and you’ll not want to miss it. Kickoff’s at 9:30 p.m. CT, so make sure to get a nap Saturday afternoon. Some keys to ponder while you refocus from Big XII to SDSU:

  • Aztec quarterback Ryan Lindley is one of the best in the nation, rated by many pro scouts as a better pro prospect than Boise State’s Kellen Moore.
  • Aztec running back Ronnie Hillman has six straight 100-plus-yard games, including a 191 yard, 4 touchdown game against Washington State back on Sept. 17.
  • Former New Mexico coach Rocky Long is now the head man at SDSU, and he can coach some defense. He runs the 3-3-5. This will be a great chess match between two great defensive coaches.
  • Pass rush? Frogs have to bring pressure against an SDSU offensive line that has given up just 2 sacks since the Utah game last year.
  • Special Teams will play a role in this one. SDSU features punter Brian Stahovich, one of the best in the nation --- big leg.
  • SDSU has never beaten the Frogs, 0-6 all time.

Meanwhile, the Volleyball lost for the first time in MWC action last night, falling to San Diego State. The Horned Frogs fall to 16-2 on the season and 3-1 in league play. TCU returns to action Saturday afternoon when it hosts UNLV. First serve is set for 1 p.m. at the University Recreation Center. Get out there and support the Lady Frogs before you watch the football team.

Make it a great weekend and don’t forget to write!

Kick ‘Em High!

Friday, September 30, 2011

TCU-SMU - An affair of the heart

Tomorrow, the Frogs tee it up with SMU for the 91st time. Some call it a rivalry and some shrug.

For those who shrug, I suggest taking the following to heart and extending your passion to field level tomorrow. It’s a game that you can feel from the stands if you’ll just pay attention.

The Frogs and Mustangs first met in 1915. Along the way there have been some great games and some interesting stories. Consider the following:

  • TCU lost the 1918 game by forfeit (official score was 1-0) as the TCU bus got stuck in the mud in Grand Prairie following heavy rains in the area.
  • The 1935 Game – at the time called the “Game of the Century,” played at TCU. SMU beat TCU, 20-14, with a late fake punt that turned into an SMU touchdown. SMU went to the Rose Bowl and lost. Frogs went to the Sugar Bowl and won. TCU eventually won the 1935 National Championship.
  • 1948 – Frogs defense contains SMU’s Doak Walker, the 1948 Heisman Trophy winner, and battle to a 7-7 tie.
  • 1951- Frogs down SMU 13-2 to lock up the SWC championship.
  • 1966- SMU’s Jerry Levias breaks the color barrier as the first African-American scholarship athlete in the SWC as SMU cruises 21-0.

In the early 1980s, I played against SMU four times and they were all battles:

  • 1981 – The Pony Express was in its third year and in high gear. SMU’s massive offensive line prevails at Amon G. Carter Stadium, 21-9.
  • 1982 – One of the greatest games of the 1980s and one of the best I ever played in. A late SMU field goal lifts the Mustangs, 16-13.
  • 1983 – A game that still hurts. SMU’s defense, led by Michael Carter stuffs the Frogs on four straight plays from the SMU 3-yard-line on a late goal line stand. SMU 21, TCU 17. I cried in my father’s arms after the game.
  • 1984 – The battle of two ranked teams at Texas Stadium in front of one of the largest SMU home crowds ever. TCU carries a lead late into the 4th quarter before SMU’s Reggie Dupard gets loose on a draw play for the game winner. SMU, 26-17.

Other series games of note:

  • The strange hole in the schedule in 1987 and 1988 with no SMU game while the Mustangs worked through the NCAA’s “Death Penalty."
  • 1990 - The odd specter of old Ownby Stadium on the SMU campus when TCU traveled to Dallas to play the Mustangs for the first time after the death penalty. It’s amazing when I think back of that “make-do” stadium environment that said all you needed to know about the condition of the SMU program at the time.
  • 1992 – A skinny, blond-haired quarterback named Dan Freiburger, threw two touchdown passes as the Mustangs ended six years of frustration and a 25-game Southwest Conference losing streak, beating TCU, 21-9.
  • 1997 - A Freshman running back named LaDainian Tomlinson has a breakout game and leads the Frogs to their only win, 21-18, knocking SMU out of what would have been their first bowl game after the death penalty.

What’s your favorite memory? It might happen tomorrow.

Get into this game and pay attention.

PREDICTION? Both of these teams deserve your attention.

Kick ‘Em High!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

This much we know

Whenever our old friend Keith Jackson wanted to sum something up on Saturday afternoons on ABC, he’d say, “This Muuuuuch We Knooow.”

Well, here goes for a Thursday:

  • It’s going to be a beautiful day for college football on Saturday in Fort Worth. High expected to be 83.
  • LSU looks like the real deal and, after a formality against Kentucky this Saturday, they’ll host Florida, go to Tennessee, host Auburn and then travel to ‘Bama. Texas A&M fans might want to pay attention to LSU’s journey over the next 5 weeks – it’s a sample of the Ags’ future diet.
  • Oklahoma State is pretty good. Told you!
  • Baylor’s Robert Griffin III has more TD passes than incompletions – maybe Baylor was pretty good after all. Heisman Trophy in Waco? Not likely.
  • Our old friend, Brady Hoke, has Michigan at 4-0. Let’s see how far they can go.
  • How about the job that Prentice Lewis and the TCU Women’s Volleyball team is doing? At 14-1, they’re off to a hot start. They’re at Boise State tonight for an 8:00 start. Go Lady Frogs!

Tomorrow, we’ll remember SMU-TCU games form the past and take a close-up look at the 2011 Mustangs.

Kick ‘Em High!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

College football’s traditional rivalries – They won’t last

For those old enough to remember Joni Mitchell’s song "Big Yellow Taxi," it states:

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you got
Til it’s gone

Kinda like an empty bottle of fine wine.

Fans who make the trip to Amon G. Carter Stadium this Saturday afternoon should heed this ballad’s wisdom.

You see, those lucky enough to end up with one of the 32,000 seats for the 91st edition of SMU-TCU should stop and at least take it all in, even if just for a minute. Because that’s how long it takes for the “powers that be” in college football to kill off some of the game’s most prized possessions. This week, Texas and Texas A&M have all but made it official that they won’t play anymore after the Ags truck it on down the road to the SEC. The storied rivalry, Nebraska vs. Oklahoma, is already buried out back. Bring flowers.

Speaking of Oklahoma, when the Sooners were so sure they were headed to the Pac-12 to “hang 10” three weeks ago, Bob Stoops said that’d be the end of Texas-OU.

"I don't think it's necessary. No one wants to hear that, but life changes," Stoops said. "If it changes, you've got to change with it to whatever degree.”

What? No you don’t!

Oklahoma and Texas have been playing since well before they were conference rivals. They first met in 1900 and have been playing every year at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas since 1929. This year's game will be the 106th meeting between the teams. The teams split the revenue on 92,100 tickets whose face value is $100+, garner national television exposure and get bonus money from the City of Dallas for keeping the game at the Cotton Bowl (the real one, right next to Big Tex.) I thought I’d throw in the mention of money, since that does mean something. No offense, but I think Coach Stoops should stick to the X’s & O’s.

College football’s popularity has been built on grass roots interest spawned by regional rivalries and the games that, each year, reinvent the intensity and lore that lasts another 364 days until the next game. Rivalries produce games and interest throughout the land and keep the game at the forefront of fans’ minds. Rivalries are like Macy’s on the day after Thanksgiving – it’s a deal you can’t miss.

Unfortunately, it seems this is lost on those who would realign college football and rearrange it for the benefit of television networks that are going to pay out huge sums for rights to telecast college games that have high level of appeal. My question is, aside from being bad for the game and its fans, what network in its right mind would agree to pay for a college football schedule that has no Texas-OU, no Michigan-Notre Dame, no OU-Nebraska, no Texas-Texas A&M?

Hold those rivalry memories close, college football fans. The day is coming.

And if you’re lucky enough to be in Amon G. Carter Stadium on Saturday, be sure to take an extra sip. You’ll be glad you did.

Kick ‘Em High!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Crackin' open the Friday football cooler

It’s a beautiful Friday in late September, so let’s crack open the college football cooler:

- Portland State on Family Weekend presents the Horned Frogs will plenty of opportunities:

  • One last tune-up before the Frogs run through what I call “Gate No. 2” of the season, which features the SMU/SDSU combo. (Gate No. 1 was Baylor/Air Force).
  • A chance to muscle up against a pretty decent Portland State running game – watch out for No. 1 running back Cory McCaffrey, who ran for 222 yards last week. (I don’t care who the opponent is. If you run for 222, you should have a bullseye on your back.)
  • A great “contain drill” to confine a good quarterback for Portland State in No. 6 Connor Kavanaugh. He can keep a play alive with his feet.
  • A chance to thwart another team full of tricks on special teams.

- Hats off to Frogs’ kicker Ross Evans, who last week became TCU’s all-time leading scorer with 325 points. Stop and think about that. ... No. 2 on the scoring list is LaDainian Tomlinson (remember him?) with 324.

- Portland State brings a TCU connection to town this week. Vikings’ freshman wide receiver Roston Tatum is the son of my old teammate, Roscoe Tatum (remember him?), who was a speedy running back and world-class trackster back in the mid 1980’s.

Kick ‘Em High!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

When it's game day, it's about the Frogs

I have kept a mental note over the past several years — as the Frogs have become a card-carrying member of college football’s most feared — that at home games, it’s not always about the Frogs.

And that’s wrong.

Some may be irked or confused by my stance, but here's my read: Many TCU fans base their engagement with the Frogs on the weather or even the opponent. I say ask fans at Alabama, Oklahoma, USC or even Texas, and they’ll tell you that they don’t care who the opponent is. If their team is on the field, then they’re there.


In the stadium.

Making noise on opponent’s third downs.

THERE . . . to get the most out of the college football experience.

THERE . . . to make sure that their team knows their fans care.

Thankfully, things have changed a lot since I played against the Houston Cougars in 1981 in front of a whopping 13,257. Our crowds are much larger than that.

But one thing hasn’t changed — the players notice whether the stands are packed. And they feed off the energy provided by full seats.

Whether it’s Penn State or Portland State, the attitude should be the same.

There’s a new Amon G. Carter Stadium coming up out of the ground. Make it yours, Frog Fans. Get THERE.

And pack it this weekend.

Kick ‘Em High!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Two-fer Tuesday!

Here’s a double dip of brainwaves for you on this fine Tuesday.

Scoop #1

Can you believe we’re already heading into Week 4 of the college football season? Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Oklahoma is for real. Once they got up 10 points on FSU Saturday night, I turned it off.
  • Oklahoma State is better than I thought. That should be some battle when they meet OU (who’ll still be No. 1) on December 3rd in Stillwater. They call it “Bedlam!”
  • Bust of the Year YTD: Notre Dame. So much made about so little. The Irish beat Michigan State, but the Spartans still get more votes in the AP Poll....think the pollsters were impressed?
  • I still miss Keith Jackson on my TV.
  • Collision of the Week: No. 6 Oklahoma State at No. 8 Texas A&M.

Scoop #2

I’m already impressed with the play of so many of the new faces on the Horned Frogs:

  • The defensive line, including David Johnson, Chuckie Hunter, Ray Burns, Ross Forrest, Jon Koontz and Jon Lewis.
  • Casey Pachall – you’re wondering why I didn’t put him first – I had a feeling that he’d handle all this just fine and, so far, he has.
  • The Fab 5 – the freshman wide outs are as advertised, and DeSoto’s David Porter, while the least touted, has had the most impact.
  • The rebuilt offensive line – giving Matthew Tucker and Waymon James room to work and keeping Casey upright.
  • These guys aren’t new, but WRs Josh Boyce and Antoine Hicks have been “handy.” I wouldn’t want to have to cover them.

Conference Call

OK, OK! I know, you’re wondering about conference realignment. It might as well be called “covert reassignment.” There are so many factors and so few rules to this puzzle that in the time it took you to read this article, something major changed…I assure you.

Kick ‘Em High!

Friday, September 16, 2011

99 and one to grow on

Tomorrow the Frogs open the home schedule against ULM (Louisiana-Monroe for those scoring at home!)

It’s also a chance for the Frogs to notch another home victory and get Gary Patterson his 100th win as TCU head coach. Gary’s not taken with that stat and, frankly, neither am I, but I am intrigued to think about the first 99 wins.

Which one’s the best, the most important, and the most favorite? Obviously, Coach P has taken us on some fun rides. Some entries to ponder while you come up with your own list:

  • The win over Southern Miss in the last game of the 2001 season that put the Frogs in a bowl and sent Nebraska (who had beaten the Frogs earlier that year) to the BCS National Championship game;
  • The Liberty Bowl win in 2002 over a really good Colorado State team – the Frogs were dominating on defense;
  • The big win at home on over Louisville on Thursday night on national TV – remember the Louisville FG attempt bouncing off the crossbar on the last play of the game?
  • The win at OU in ‘05;
  • The win over Boise State in the “6th BCS Game” at the Poinsettia Bowl;
  • The win at Clemson in 2009, which launched the Frogs’ rocket;
  • Any win in 2010;
  • The Rose Bowl win

Take time on this Friday to come up with your own Top 10.

And, thanks, Coach P, for the first 99. What’s next?!!

Enjoy your college football weekend, everybody!

Kick ‘Em High!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Some thoughts about realignment

Conference Realignment??? You’re gonna feel a little pressure.

Every time I hear another discussion on college football conference “realignment,” it makes me think of going to the chiropractor — and how appropriate!

Chiropractic is defined as a health care discipline that focuses on the relationship between musculoskeletal structure (primarily the spine) and body function (as coordinated by the nervous system.

Nervous? You bet. Nationwide the talk of realignment has Athletic Directors and Conference Commissioners sleeping lightly and waiting for the next big text message to buzz in on their predawn bedside table.

College Football fans, you better be nervous, too. For years, the NCAA stated that college football needed to be distinctively different from the professional game. Rules were different, goal posts were wider (believe me, I know) and the focus was on competition and the overall health of the game. The NFL was left to worry about television contracts, media markets, expansion and how much to pay the players. Now, those conversations have oozed into the college game on a daily basis.

Sure, lay the blame for starting this latest wildfire at the feet of ESPN (gas can) and University of Texas (match), but there are plenty of other players to include on the list of suspects. And don’t forget to blame two inventions of post-World War II America, the jet engine and television — without them we wouldn’t have this situation.

My point is that maybe everyone should back off and think about what has built college football to this point:

  • Regional conferences that make game access for fans easy.
  • Road trips that all fans can make.
  • Rivalries that hook fans as toddlers and carry through a lifetime. (See Texas-OU and Texas-Texas A&M, both on the chopping block.)
  • Scheduling that keeps ‘em coming back for more.

See where I’m going? Some things just should not be abandoned.

Several years ago, NASCAR decided it was going to get too big for its britches and bolt out to larger markets, abandoning its historic regional roots and killing off races in Nashville and North Wilkesboro Speedway and Rockingham for Las Vegas, California, etc. and it’s not working out the way they thought it would. Oh, by the way, NASCAR has announced that it’s going back to Rockingham next year after a 7-year hiatus. Making the move of out Rockingham wasn’t a good idea after all. Is there a marketing lesson here?

For Texas A&M, the marketing research may lie as closely as the University of Arkansas. The Hogs bolted for the SEC in 1990 and took one leg off the SWC chair that eventually crashed under the weight of Big Bertha. Arkansas fans will tell you that it hasn’t worked out the way they thought it would. The SEC is a meat grinder, and TCU has been ranked in the Top 10 more than Arkansas has. not to mention that when Arkansas went east to the SEC, it abandoned its recruiting base in north central Texas because it ceased playing games in Texas and game exposure to recruits diminished. (That’s why Jerry Jones — a Hog alum — booked the Hogs into Cowboys Stadium to play every year.) Again, TAMC (for you older readers) might want to review this case study.

Finally, whatever configuration is decided on at the end of this domino game, the serious talk of 16-team conferences makes me scratch my head. TCU lived in the 16-member WAC from 1996-2001 and the travel, scheduling and operation of the conference were unwieldy. In a five-year period there were actually conference opponents that TCU never played home-and-home in football. In basketball, teams played everyone in their 8-team division and then cross over to the other division to play 4 teams in one of the “crossover quadrants” which alternated year-to-year. Confused? Twelve-team conferences are the way to go.

This situation brings to mind a passage from The Life of Reason (1905-1906) by George Santayana:

Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Perhaps the best answers for the future of college football are wedged in its past.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Frogs look to avoid rocky start in the Rockies

The Rocky Mountains welcomed the TCU Horned Frogs to Colorado Springs today with temperatures that are 55 degrees warmer than what the Frogs braved in their last trip to Falcon Stadium in 2009.

Enough about that cold, cold day. This trip is more eerily similar to the trip they made to the foothills in 2007, coming off a loss in Austin to Big XII (or is it 10 or 9?) member Texas and starting MWC play versus a pesky Air Force team.

Keys to remember as you settle in with a beverage for this one:
  • This is the most experienced Air Force team in some 20 years – lots of juniors and seniors, including four-year starter Tim Jefferson (he makes it go) at QB.
  • Troy Calhoun has instilled a “protect our home” mentality in the Falcons – they are 20-5 at home in the Calhoun era.
  • Calhoun is one of the bright minds in college football – he always has a stellar game plan put together.
  • If you like chess matches, watch Gary Patterson and Troy Calhoun match wits tomorrow – it’ll be a strategist’s dream.
  • Frogs are hungry and ready to get back on the winning track but they have to be disciplined against Air Force’s triple option attack, which will pull up and throw on you occasionally.
  • Frogs have to play great defense on first down and put the Falcons in long down-and-distance situations.
  • The Frogs need to continue to run the ball like they did at Baylor to control the clock and keep the Air Force offense off the field.
  • Each of the last two games played by these teams at Falcon Stadium has been decided by a score of 20-17 — that’s 6 points total over two games!
From the OH, BY THE WAY DEPARTMENT: TGIF and there’s college football tomorrow to take our time and attention away from all the rumors, speculation and heresay on conference realignment. It’s sad that most of the attention is gobbled up by this issue at a time of the year when fans should be enjoying the great college game most. Enjoy the weekend and read every score on Sunday morning!

Kick ‘Em High!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

These Frogs have heart

Here’s hoping you had a great Labor Day Weekend and enjoyed the cooler temperatures. That early-morning coolness kinda feels like football weather doesn’t it?

Takeaways from last Friday’s Baylor game:

  • This TCU team has heart. Young, though it may be, it showed the mental toughness and resilience of a veteran team. No panic spotted from my vantage point.
  • Coming from 24 points down to retake the lead is no small feat.
  • Several Frogs showed the leadership skills that Gary Patterson has been looking for. In fact, last Friday’s wild-and-crazy game was the perfect crucible for a young team trying to find its identity.
  • QB Casey Pachall’s presence in the fourth quarter was undeniable as he engineered the comeback with great reads and pinpoint passing.
  • TCU’s offensive line — a worrisome lot in the preseason — performed very well and gave Pachall & Company the time and opportunities it needed.
  • TCU’s kickoff return and punt return teams were stellar.
  • TCU’s defense made some great plays late in the game when they needed to, including holding Baylor to a field goal with the game on the line.
  • Baylor’s QB Robert Griffin III (with lots of offensive weapons around him) will have even bigger games this year in the Big 12 — you watch.
  • Baylor will win a lot of games.

And now, here comes Air Force and MWC play this Saturday. So no time to fret.

No doubt, a season-opening loss is not what TCU is about. But I promise you, later in the season, coaches, players, fans and so-called “experts” will look at the Baylor game and say that it was an beneficial outing that helped these young Frogs grow up in a hurry.

Kick 'em high!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Are you ready for some Frog football?

There's a saying that Opening Day in college football is like Christmas — you can't wait, you're anxious and you never know what's in the box.

Well, today is that day, Frog Fans. Get ready!

For the first time in four years, you'll have to get by without Andy Dalton. Tejay Johnson's gone. So is Jeremy Kerley.

But don't fret. TCU is a program that reloads — rebuilding is not part of the purple vocabulary.

Tonight's matchup at Baylor revives an inter-church school battle that dates back to 1899 and has lots of storylines:

* A Baylor program trying to prove that last year's success was not a fluke.
* A TCU program trying to stay at the same level as last year's Rose Bowl team.
* A new starting TCU QB in Casey Pachall. Watch him...he's really talented.
* Baylor's new defense trying to be the difference between last year's TCU blowout win and tonight's game.
* TCU's defense vs. Baylor's dual threat QB, Robert Griffin III.
* TCU's rebuilt offensive line vs. Baylor's rebuilt defensive line.

And, as always in first games, look for special teams to play a key role in this one.

Enjoy this new season of college football. It's time!

And I hope you like what's in the box!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Finishing “The Carter”

This week, TCU Athletics Director Chris Del Conte announced plans to replace the east stands of Amon G. Carter Stadium.

Big news. And timely, too.

For many, it fired the starter’s pistol for completion of a project that they thought they’d never see. For others, it’s an extra-large bow on the gift that is the beginning of the 2011 college football season.

Pool-siders who keep tabs on conference realignment, TV contracts and the business of college football were all hit by the splash, made at just the right time. Aside from bowl season, this is the week that has college football fans most lathered-up. Everybody’s undefeated and can’t wait.

The renovation of Amon G. Carter Stadium is a huge deal for TCU. Finishing it is even a bigger deal. For those who can remember back when TCU didn’t need half of the 46,000 seats in the old “Carter,” yesterday was a special moment and an historic day, I argue.

Finishing “The Carter” says TCU knows how. Gets it done.

And it sends a well-placed and important message to TCU fans, players (past, present and future), students and the gatekeepers of college football on this first week of the season.

Big news.

More renderings of the proposed renovation