Monday, February 14, 2011

TCU's Move to the Big East Was the Right Move at the Right Time

  Head Coach Gary Patterson Of The TCU Horned Frogs Stands
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
When TCU head coach Gary Patterson saw the writing on the wall after Utah departed and BYU was in the middle of considerations to follow them out the door, it seemed to him that there was no other decision to make. They needed to look for a way out of the Mountain West Conference which was quickly becoming the old version of the Western Athletic Conference.

Most of the talk shows in the Dallas/Ft Worth area had callers wondering why the Big 12 hadn't come calling. The answer to that was simple. There wasn't enough money in it for the conference to consider them. It's not that the Horned Frogs wouldn't have fit in and been better than schools like Baylor, Kansas, and Kansas State to name a few, at least in football. The conference wouldn't see enough revenue coming in from the school, especially in the television ratings.

There's no doubt there are some hardcore TCU fans in the area but let's not kid ourselves, this is a state ruled by either the Texas Longhorns or the Oklahoma Sooners. No offense to the Horned Frogs, you just don't get top billing around here.

But, that didn't mean they didn't need to make a decision about their future. Especially if they didn't want to get stuck in the same old rut they had been in over the past few years. Even though Boise State was coming in, TCU still knew that the MWC receiving an automatic BCS bid was still going to be close to impossible.

That's when a new conference came calling, one that Patterson and the university couldn't ignore. It meant a move to a conference east of the plain states and it meant a whole new realm of possibilities for each of the athletic programs.

The conference that came calling was the Big East and TCU wasted no time in accepting the invitation. It left the MWC stunned and unable to recover no matter what kind of moves they made.

Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii were brought in but they knew the loss of Utah, BYU and now TCU was more than they would be able to recover from. They had built another version of the WAC, the same conference that split apart almost 12 years ago.

For those of you who blame them for leaving you might want to ask Boise State if they would have re-thought their decision about jumping to the MWC if they had known TCU was about to leave. My guess is, they would have held out for a better offer. Maybe they would have gotten the Big East offer that TCU received or possibly gotten an invite as well.

The Horned Frogs made a move that was beneficial to their university at the exact right time. They knocked down half of their football stadium and plan to rebuild it in time for the 2011 college football season. The stadium, when finished, will hold 40,000 fans and according to an article from CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd the weight room will go from 8,000 square feet up to 20,000 square feet.

Not a bad piece of real estate, right?

The changes being made at TCU, on top of their big Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin this past January, has put the Horned Frogs on the map when it comes to some of the top recruits in the country. After signing day had concluded, the Horned Frogs' recruiting class was ranked among the top 25 in the nation.

Though they lost 14 starters from last season, this wasn't a rebuilding class for TCU, this was a reloading class that will keep them as a dangerous team in college football for a long time to come.

Patterson has had his chance to walk away from the school. He's had job offers from other universities that have sought to bring him on and accomplish the same kind of success that he's built at TCU.

Unfortunately for them, as well as other schools who have gone after guys like Boise State's Chris Petersen and Utah's Kyle Whittingham, Patterson has stayed loyal to Texas Christian University. Though they've been known as just another small school in north Texas, he's built the name into so much more.

Now they're the school that won the Rose Bowl in their first ever appearance in the 'Grandaddy of Them All,' and the school that knocked off would be Big Ten powerhouse, Wisconsin.

It's no small feat to be sure but the head football coach at that small little school in Fort Worth uses the naysayers to get his players jacked up for each and every game on their schedule. They proved that going on the road to Utah who was ranked in the top five in the nation. They didn't beat Utah, the humiliated them on their home field in front of their home fans.

It was the start of what become a tremendous season for the Horned Frogs. One not to be forgotten.

But for those that think this team is a one-hit wonder, you might want to think again. As long as Gary Patterson is the head coach at TCU, this program is going to be hanging around the BCS rankings for a long time.

You better get used to that now, because it's not changing any time soon.

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