Admiring the TCU Program

One of the best in the business - Eric Draper

They did it the old fashioned way: they earned it.

LSU hasn't played TCU since 1968. LSU hasn't lost a game to TCU since 1936. So if familiarity breeds contempt, this should be a pretty affable affair. Really, what's not to like about TCU? They have a cool mascot, Oregon-esque uniforms, and their recent history is hard not to respect.

When the Horned Frogs hired Dennis Franchione back in 1998, times were tough for the program. TCU was coming off a 1-10 season in the WAC, a conference they were playing in because they couldn't lobby their way into the Big 12.*

*That's not entirely true. There's been some revisionist history on this. While Baylor did lobby their way into the Big 12, it's because they were a much better option than TCU in 1996. TCU had only had five winning seasons in the past 30 years, and they hadn't won the SWC title since 1958. Oh, and TCU was on probation. They had to cheat just to get to mediocre.

This is when TCU could have packed in their football program and essentially become another version of Rice or SMU, with a program left in tatters with the demise of the SWC. No one would have blamed them for going that route. Instead, TCU committed to re-building their program. Heck, TCU hadn't been a national power since the 1950s, so we can just call it "building" and forget the prefix.

Since the 1998 season, TCU has enjoyed 13 winning seasons in the past 15 years. They had their first 10-win season since 1938's undefeated squad, and then they did it six more times. They went to the Rose Bowl, and then won it, capping off a 13-0 season.

TCU played their way back into national relevance, and it is hard not to respect that. Instead of complaining about how unfair the wheels of fate had been, the Frogs built one of the best mid-major programs in the nation, and forced their way back into a major conference. OK, they went 7-6 in their debut season in the Big 12, their worst record since 2004, but it was still an impressive accomplishment.

Gary Patterson deserves the lion's share of the credit. The new football palace they have built in Fort Worth is a testament to the rebirth of TCU football. No one gave this to them, TCU simply went out and earned it. I have nothing but the utmost respect for this program. It's hard not to.

I plan on feeling bad for a whole minute after we roll them by double digits this weekend.

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