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 www.gofrogs.com. 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!