Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Go Away, Neil.

editors note: that's supposed to be Neil as the devil with devil horns,
a devil goatee and devil fire spouting from his hands. Accept it!

I was reading the Star-Telegram article from this morning regarding Coach Christian's outlook on the BYU game this evening and somehow I guess most of you must have glossed over this little tidbit:

Coach thankful for past

Jim Christian likes to live in the present and sometimes look to the future. But one thing about the past that he’s been able to appreciate so far is the classiness of former TCU coach Neil Dougherty.

Dougherty sent Christian a congratulatory text message after the Frogs’ season-opening win over Western Michigan, and he’s offered to help in any way throughout the season, which Christian said made the new staff’s transition easier.

"He’s supporting the kids he brought into the program, and I think that’s a wonderful thing," Christian said. "I was a little surprised [to get the text message], but in a pleasant way. Not a lot of guys in this business do those types of things. It shows what kind of person he is."

Oh. Oh my god! How does this happen? Have you ever seen the Seinfeld where George gets fired from his job for pretending to be handicapped, then tunnels his way into his handicapped bathroom and sets up his office there? That's what this is like, except not in any way funny! I had heard rumors that Neil and his crew were at the home opener, which I guess is acceptable since he wanted to see how his holdovers were making it under the new regime... but still questionable. I mean, if you were fired from your job for vast imcompetence, would you show up when your replacement was finishing up their year end reports, just to see how things were going? I realize there are flaws to this argument, but, to put it in similar perspective: how many SMU games do you think Phil Bennett attended this season? (the fact that he had another co-ordinator job is not to be taken into account for the sake of me winning my argument) Because that's what Doughtery was: TCU's Phil Bennett, with the exception that Bennett was actually given another job after his axing.

Not to just beat a dead horse about how much I hate Dougherty, because anyone that reads this site clearly understands my feelings towards the man, but look at what Jim Christian said just this weekend in relation to the Dougherty Reich, also from the Star Telegram.

"Indifference" is how new Frogs’ coach Jim Christian summed it up when we talked Friday.

He wasn’t just talking about the media or the fans, either. He was talking about the players, too.

"There are so many great things happening here [at TCU], so many programs that are winning, people had just become indifferent to basketball," Christian said. "I’m talking about our own players.

"Guys were working here, they were working hard, but they weren’t working toward anything or with anybody."

So, call me crazy and too read between the line-y, but when you say that the players are "indifferent" and that they "weren't working toward anything or with anybody," I'm pretty sure that's a direct shot at the previous coach and how the players viewed the man and his stylings. When all but four of his players were either kicked off the team or left the program, that tells me that they were sick and tired of the direction it was going under the previous leadership and that they weren't going to be able to cut it under a winner.

The bottom line here is this: Why is Dougherty still hanging around? From Christian's comments, it almost sounds like he has an open invitation to interact with the players. Why would you take the chance? This situation with Dougherty is like a bad case of Herpes. It may lay dormant for a while and you'll think you have it controlled, but just when you're about to jump into bed with some hot young thing in Colby Hall, there's Neil, just a big ulcer on your D.(sorry, too much?) I understand how some programs keep around beloved coaches by either giving them front office jobs in the athletic department (Frank Broyles at Arkansas and Tom Osborne at Nebraska immediately come to mind) or some sort of honorary, pretend position (not that unlike Joe Paterno miraculously signing a 3 year contract extension to "coach" from the pressbox), but even those greats can wear our their welcome (Broyles). So, can you imagine what allowing a losing coach who players didnt respect and couldn't put together a winning team if his life depended on it can do to a rejuvenated program with a first class coach? Just look at the improvement of Langford and Mitchem through 16 games this season as proof that Dougherty wasn't capable of utilizing their talents. Christian needs to say thanks but no thanks and eliminate Dougherty's presence around the program immediately before the cock blocking really begins.

ESPN Bracketology

It is very early in the season but ESPN'S newest predicted bracket has TCU listed among the last four out. Granted this means they think we won't make the NCAA tournament but the fact that our Frogs are even being considered after the past few yeas is amazing. Christian and his Fightin' Frogs are making a name for themselves.

A to-do list for Craig Thompson

With the achievements of TCU, BYU and especially Utah this year, the Mountain West's tenth season was easily it's best. The conference finally started to get a little bit of the respect it deserves, and having two teams finish in the top 10 started the chatter about the MWC deserving an automatic BCS bowl tie-in. No time to celebrate, though- this is a crucial time for the Mountain West to maintain and build on it's current momentum. That means there's a great deal of work to be done by conference commissioner Craig Thompson. So, Mr. Thompson, here is your to-do list:

-Improve the MWC's Bowl Affiliations
Obviously, the goal here is to have the MWC Champ playing in a BCS game every year, regardless of record. The conference has showed that it's tougher than some of the leagues that do have automatic BCS tie-ins, so there's no reason that a team that wins this league should have to worry about making a BCS bowl if it happens to have lost a game or two.

But there is a lot of work to be done beyond just where the conference champ goes bowling. While being matched up against an undefeated, 9th-ranked team was a major coup for the league's #2 team this year, it was still two days before Christmas in a bowl that didn't even pay out $1 million. In fact, the only MWC-affliated bowl to pay out $1 million is the Las Vegas Bowl, which is normally the slot for the #1 team. That bowl is played on December 20.

Our league deserves games that pay well and are played on good dates. A few that would be within reason to go after would be the Insight Bowl (played in Phoenix with a $1.2 million pay out) and the Sun Bowl (El Paso, $1.9), both played on New Year's Eve. Heck, even the Holiday Bowl, which is played in the same stadium as the Poinsettia Bowl yet pays $2.3 million and is played on December 29th, ought to be approached. The two teams that played in this year's Holiday Bowl (Oregon & Oklahoma State) were ranked lower than both TCU & Boise State, who were each payed $750,000. There should also be feelers put out to the Independence Bowl (Shreveport, Dec 28, $1.1 million) and the Texas Bowl (Houston, Dec 30, $750K), both of whom were unable to fill their stadiums because not enough Big 12 or SEC teams qualified for a bowl. All of these would be more than adequate destinations for the conference's 2nd through 5th place teams.

-Improve the MWC's TV Deal
Thompson went out on a limb when he took the conference completely off of the ESPN family of networks starting in 2006. But ESPN wanted to pay the MWC very, very little money and put their football games on Tuesday & Wednesday nights. So he went to a fledgling start-up in CSTV (now CBS-College Sports), who offered him far more money and the assurance that games would only be played on Saturdays and Thursdays (I hate the Thursday games, too, but a lot of big conferences have them as well- Pac 10, SEC, Big East, ACC). He also went very much out on a limb by starting the first-ever cable network devoted to a college conference, with The Mtn.

Two and a half years later, the gamble has somewhat paid off: A large portion of games are on Versus and CBS-College, both of which are widely available on most cable & satellite providers. Even The Mtn has gained a foothold by gaining distribution on basic cable throughout much of Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada. It's also now available on DirecTV. It's still NOT available, however, on Dish Network, ATT Uverse and any cable provider in the DFW market. This HAS to change. The Mtn needs to be on basic cable in AT LEAST Fort Worth, if not the entire Metroplex and even all of Texas. It also needs to be available throughout the nation (as is it's copy-cat, the Big Ten Network) on expanded cable and ALL satellite providers. It's time to stop being greedy about negotiating distribution fees and just focus on making sure it's available to anyone who wants to watch it.

There has also been chatter about getting a few select MWC games broadcast on CBS. This needs to be explored as much as it can be. I think I speak for all TCU fans when I say we'd be more than happy to wake up & start tailgating early if the Utah @ TCU game next year could be on CBS on a Saturday at 11:00am. Too many of our big games have been on attendance-killing Thursday nights, and although 11:00am would be rough, I'm pretty sure we could handle it. The "Holy War", as Utah & BYU's rivalry game is called, would also be a great fit for network TV.

-Invite Boise State to join, NOW
Boise State is really a rising star of a football program. They only moved up to Division 1A in 1996, and 12 seasons later they are a legitimate perennial Top 20 team. They have a growing, loyal and enthusiastic fanbase and fit into the conference geographically.

Adding the Broncos to the MWC would benefit the conference in each of the categories we've already discussed. It would give the conference another competitive team that would be attractive to bowl committees and TV executives. Putting the #11 team in the country into a conference that already has the #2, #7, #25 and two other bowl teams would seriously bolster that conference's claims to be worthy of an automatic BCS bid.

Hodge Named to 2008 All-Bowl Team


Morning Dump

TCU's Jim Christian heaps praise on BYU Star-Telegram

Suprising TCU is no lightweight opponent
Deseret News

Bulijan, Carter named MWC players of the week

Frogs look for fifth straight victory on road at BYU GoFrogs.com

TCU kicker Drew Combs caps career with Rudy award

TCU freshman a real Tuffy WFAA

The rest of the news
Cowtown Clips