TCU beat 'em, now set to join 'em

January, 2, 2011
1/02/11
11:44
AM CT
PASADENA, Calif. -- After the third-ranked TCU Horned Frogs had defeated the fifth-ranked Wisconsin Badgersfair- and-square on the emerald field of the Rose Bowl, even Gordon Gee, the Ohio State athletics director who belittled programs like TCU and Boise State for padding their records against opponents like the “Little Sisters of the Poor,” seemed to have a change of heart.

Wisconsin, after all, was the only team to beat Gee's Buckeyes this season. Reached by the New York Times' Pete Thamel on Saturday night, Gee said: “I’m going to New Orleans tomorrow [where Ohio State will play in the Sugar Bowl], and Antoine’s is a great restaurant. I think they serve crow, and I’ll be eating my portion of that. TCU played a great game, and they deserved to be recognized for that. Obviously, TCU is a great ball team.”

Frogs coach Gary Patterson was asked after the 21-19 New Year's Day victory that boosted TCU its first undefeated and untied season since 1938 if he had a message from Gee. Patterson remained diplomatic.

"I don't have any messages for him," Patterson said. "I make mistakes every day. So what I'm going to do is know that TCU is 13-0. We've won 44 ballgames, this senior class has in the last four years. And know that at any point in time anybody can beat anybody."

TCU's time as the little guy in college football's hierarchy is coming to an end. The Horned Frogs will play one final season in the non-automatic qualifying Mountain West Conference and then join the establishment as a member of the Big East Conference, one of the six power conferences granted automatic access to the BCS.

"I think what we’ve been able to do for the past however many of years and the success that we’ve had, we’ve earned the respect," said senior Andy Dalton, who exits TCU as the school's all-time winningest quarterback. "I think people are really starting to realize how good TCU is and I guess the Big East obviously realized that and wanted us to be a part of their conference, and so I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for TCU."

The Frogs will leave the fight for equality to the Boise State's of the world. Yet, on some level, it would seem the Frogs and Patterson will miss the underdog role, always having to strive for perfection, to take the hard road, to constantly have to prove that they belong. After all, TCU, along with Boise State, have been the ones constantly harrassing the BCS and leading the surge of public animosity toward college football's postseason power structure.

"We’ll always be that," Patterson said of retaining underdog status despite the move up. "Yeah, because we’re in the state of Texas. We’re never going to be compared to the Big East. Just like in the Mountain West, we’re compared to Texas and [Texas] A&M and Texas Tech. That’s how we recruit. We recruit to try to beat the Big 12."

This season the Big East was weakest of the power six. Connecticut, at 8-4 after the regular season, represented the conference in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday night and was handled by Big 12 champion Oklahoma, 48-20. Only West Virginia, with four losses, finished the season with fewer than five losses. The Big East sought the Frogs to lift their football profile.

Unless there's a sudden surge by one of the current eight Big East programs, the Frogs could walk into the league in 2012 as favorites to win it and claim the BCS slot.

The lure of the Big East is its automatic berth. Win the conference and you're in. No longer will perfection, which the Frogs have accomplished in consecutive regular seasons, a prerequisite. No longer will an early non-conference loss a season death sentence.

Yet, even there, Patterson found room to quibble.

"As far as a national championship it is, but not playing for a BCS game," Patterson said. "If you’re ultimate goal is playing for a national championship then you’re still tyring to get done what you’re trying to get done. It still means you need to go undefeated and do the things you need to do."

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS

Fitzsimmons and Durrett: OSU scandal

Part 2 of the articles on OSU's involvment in academic fraud was released. Some claim the expose is unfounded. Ian and Richard warn that there are two sides to all stories.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Longhorns talk

Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mack Brown, Manny Diaz and all the latest with the Texas Longhorns.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Barkley on Manziel

Fitzsimmons and Durrett give you the latest on the Johnny Manziel story and Charles Barkley weighs in. You won't believe who the outspoken NBA Hall of Famer is disappointed in and what he thinks about the autograph allegations.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Kirk Herbstreit

Kirk Herbstreit joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett for his weekly visit to preview the 2013 college football season.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Andy Dalton

Former TCU and current Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the expectations for the Bengals this season, give a prediction for the TCU-LSU game and talk about what it's like having the Hard Knocks cameras follow him.

Galloway and Company: Manziel talk

Randy Galloway, Matt Mosley, and Mark Friedman react to Dez Bryant's comments regarding the NCAA's ongoing investigation of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Fitzsimmons and Durrett: Dez Bryant sounds off

Richard Durrett, Ian Fitzsimmons and Glenn "Stretch" Smith react to Dez Bryant sounding off yesterday after practice about Johnny Manziel and the shadiness of the NCAA.

Fitzsimmons and Durrett: Dan Beebe

Former NCAA investigator and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to weigh in on the Johnny Manziel drama and give some insight as to what goes on during an NCAA investigation.