Sunday, May 22, 2011

Could the TCU Horned Frogs Overtake the Dallas Cowboys For Football Supremacy?

In North Texas football is king. For the Dallas Cowboys, the team who once were crowned "America's Team," they are about to be replaced by a team who used to be 'that cute little team in Fort Worth.'

The TCU Horned Frogs, fresh off an unbeaten season and a Rose Bowl victory over the Wisconsin Badgers, it seems fans are beginning to stray away from the big silver star and over to the team named for a strange looking animal. And who can blame them?

Gary Patterson Head coach Gary Patterson of the TCU Horned Frogs leads his team on the field against the Air Force Falcons at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas.  TCU beat Air Force 38-7.
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Since his hiring in 2000, head coach Gary Patterson has led his team to top 25 finishes in eight of his 10 seasons including top 10 finishes in each of the last three seasons.

He has his team and his players at the highest level they have seen in years. Sure the TCU football program has had their share of great players, such as NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson, but the 2010 team wasn't filled with big time "stars."

The team had a quarterback, Andy Dalton, who did his job and put up record numbers in his final year. They had the nation's best defense led by hard hitting linebacker, Tank Carder, and departed cornerback Tejay Johnson. Everything went their way and it ended with a goose egg in the loss column and a celebration in Pasadena, California.

For the fans here in the Dallas and Forth Worth areas, they have gotten use to the Dallas Cowboys being the only football in town.

Nevermind the fact they had Southern Methodist University to the east, led by new head coach June Jones who has them on the right track for the first time in a long time, and Texas Christian University to the west. They wanted the far-too-big television screen and the stadium that cost over a billion dollars to build.

For years, Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones had done and said the right things to keep fans coming back to his team and his stadium. Even after he built a brand new state of the art football stadium, raised parking prices to $75, and ticket prices to, well, out of range of families and the average fan, people still showed up.

But for the past 16 seasons, the fans have walked away from every NFL season in disappointment. Their team had not won a Super Bowl since 1996 and had just a single playoff victory. Despite all that, still the fans came and brought the same expectations they had the year before.

Could there finally be a changing of the guard? Could the Dallas Cowboys possibly play second fiddle to a college football team?

At this point one might wonder if Jones wouldn't love to have Patterson as his head coach. He has not had any luck finding the right guy since Jimmy Johnson left for greener pastures.

But, for reasons passing understanding, Patterson remains in Fort Worth and with a school who will finish up their final season in the Mountain West Conference before heading to the Big East Conference and a shot at an automatic BCS bid year in and year out.

The Cowboys have had their time in the sun and now it seems the Horned Frogs are making a strong case for fans in the metroplex to believe in what they are selling.

Like them or not, they are no longer the cute little team anymore. Now they have national attention and the fans who normally would not give them a second look, are buying up tickets like it's the last time they will get to see this team.

The final nail in the coffin of the Dallas Cowboys, whether you want to believe it or not, will be the continuation of the NFL lockout. If there is no professional football in 2011, the TCU Horned Frogs are the team who will benefit the most from it.

Before the 2010 college football season began, I remember listening to a good friend of mine on his radio show calling TCU "that cute little team." I laughed and knew it was just the biased opinion that seems to resonate here in Dallas.

But, when the season ended, he admitted to me that he never saw this kind of season coming from a team in the Mountain West.

If his opinion has changed, what are the odds the opinions of the rest of the naysayers have also changed?

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