Thursday, January 29, 2009
After reading through a lot of the information out there in regards to the MWC joining the BCS - a subject that is going to come up every single post season we perform - I just wondered why this hadn't gotten a little more play on SB? Just the fact that Mr. Prez is being proactive about the situation really says a lot about his interest in progressing the conference and protecting its interests (read: TCU, Utah and BYU). One article even went so far as to suggest that TCU or Utah may jump ship to the Pac 10 or Big 12, a situation with which the writer must be drastically unfamiliar with, but flattering nonetheless. At least there are some out there who know that we would give those respective conferences a big run for their money, but it's not happening.
Back up though, do I think Thompson going to get any serious consideration with his proposal? Absolutely not. In fact, I bet old man Thompson is quite the laughing stock of the bourgeious BCS right about now. However, you've gotta commend the guy for fighting for this lost cause. I'm not going to sit here and claim to understand the system and how one gains entry. In fact, the only thing I'm sure of is that we're not in it and that we probably never will be unless we're picked up by a member conference. Oh, I understand there's some sort of complicated four year evaluation process whereby a conference can bounce another one, but seeing as how our conference is only 10 years old and has only started getting major props since the Frogs joined in 2005 (outside of Utah's 04 season), the odds of the MWC getting a bump over an already entrenched conference, no matter how unfair it may be, are slim to none. If a playoff, a measure which is supported whole heartedly by just about everyone outside of the Rose Bowl committee and the two teams who are slated for the BCS game each year, can be brushed aside without any glimmer of it coming to fruition, I'm pretty sure when it gets to be 6 vs. 1, the MWC is going to go on the non-BCS trash heap. I hate to be the pessimist, but that's just how I feel.
One of the articles I read suggested the BCS needed to make some minor amendments, such as instituting a situation where there is an automatic bid for at least one non BCS champion. This sounds entirely logical and fair, but all you're going to hear from the cartel is that the situation is already in place to where the top non BCS team is going to get a bid anyway based on the current qualifications. Also, how are they going to qualify which conference winner goes? It's basically the same as the established rule. Besides, if we're going to complain that having a four loss Virginia Tech team ranked outside of the top 20 in the BCS casts a negative shadow on it, then we're just going to get it thrown in our faces when the same situation happens with a multi loss BYU, Tulsa or, heaven forbid, Ball State. Not that it would, because the magical seasons that Ball State had and that Tulsa was on the road to having to this point have not played out for a full season, but just imagine the back lash that would cause when the non BCS teams who had touted themselves so highly just add to the disaster and muddle that is the major bowl system.
Another suggestion posed by this same article was that you also would add a stipulation to where a non BCS team who qualifies under the current system would receive an automatic bid if they met this same criteria, regardless if there is already a non BCS team in the mix based on the above proposed amendment. This is definitely a situation where, on the surface, you would think would never occur... but this year there were three non BCS teams who qualified for a top bowl. Under this system, TCU would've been the odd man out, and deservedly so since the other two teams had no losses against our two, but Boise was really on the cusp of an at large bid and should've had one over Ohio State and this would've given it to them. However, only an idiot (and at this point I should note that the writer of this column was from Oklahoma) would think this would ever pass. Basically this would end up skewing the BCS TOWARDS the NON-BCS teams by giving them an automatic bid, even if a second place SEC or Big 12 team finished ahead of them. While a pretty cool thought, you may as well wash this down the drain along with the MWC supplanting the Big East of the ACC as a BCS conference in the near future.
Honestly, though, I couldn't be more thrilled with our current situation, and that is mostly because of our TV contract. Sure, I'd love the money a BCS conference would bring along with the chance to play in a major bowl each season, but, to be honest, as tough as the MWC is at the top, we're going to have to go undefeated in conference in order to win the thing most years. If we happen to lose an out of conference game, hopefully an undefeated record against a legitimately tough conference would still keep us in the chase. Our two loss #7 ranking this year tells me that this could very well be the case. But anyway, back to the point about the TV contract - really, and take note I have DirectTV, I absolutely love it. If we joined a BCS conference, there would be pressure on us to succumb to the demands of ESPN and this would take away games that we are normally able to watch. This year in football, 12 of our 13 games were on television in some format and even a school like Texas doesn't get that kind of exposure. Just ask Big 12 middleweights like Oklahoma State, Texas A&M or Kansas State how many games they've had televised in the past five years. I bet it doesn't add up to 12. Now that our basketball team has a product worth watching, this situation is emphasized tenfold. Perhaps I'm just being a devils advocate against the BCS right now, but just understand that this situation would likely disappear with BCS fame.
- I noticed that the whole MJ being switched to a safety conversation came up in a previous comment section, but I'm still going to go with it. Yeah, so unless the coaching staff has absolutely no confidence in Colin Jones, Sir Demarco Bledsoe, Corderra Hunter and whoever else we have as a potential safety - and this could very well be the case - this makes little to no sense. Without mentioning how much of a slap in the face it would be to a senior who has played his entire career at QB, do you really want to trust Pachall or Gallegos as your backup? Not that they can't do it, but what if Yogi doesn't pan out, Dalton goes down for a game, and you have to pull Pachall's redshirt for that one game? Last I checked, Jackson was 2-0 as a starter this year, including winning the ugliest game in the history of the sport at CSU. Also, Jackson probably has very little familiarity with the defense considering he spent his entire career learning the offensive playbook. I know that we have a new coordinator so it's sort of like everyone is back to page 1, but the guy is going to be far ahead of the progress of Pachall and Gallegos, and whose to say he can even learn enough of the defense to make an impact? Is he mean enough to play for GP, because, let's face it, the offensve doesn't truly play for GP. What if he can't hold up to all the pounding that goes on with that side of the ball, becomes injured, and then you're for sure stuck with the above mentioned situation? Now I understand this may just be a situation where the staff knows Dalton is the starter and that Pachall is the QB of the future, especially since he chose to enroll early, and its just a way to let the guy play his last season, but it just doesn't sound worth it.
- Switching gears, I just wanted to rant a little about the bball team's recent performances. Now, I had every intention of attending the UNM game this past Saturday and the only thing keeping me from it was the fact that I was having to play a pretty integral part at an engagement party at the same time, but judging from the end result, man am I glad I didn't. After watching a second consecutive 17 point loss last night, this time at the hands of the Tony Gwynn All Stars (did you know he's the career assists leader for SDSU? I swear that flashed on the screen), I'm just a little distraught. Yes, I understand that SDSU may very well be the best team in our conference and, athletically at least, they certainly are, but the way the team played is the complete opposite of how they played against UNLV and Air Force. I know everyone keeps saying that this team is "one year away" from being great so maybe I got a little ahead of myself after the big wins at Tech and against the Rebs, but what's happening? I did notice that Neil himself was at the UNM game "scouting" which has to make you wonder how he landed that job based on his TCU "talent observation" - Art Pierce, anyone? - so I'm going to blame that loss on bad karma, but last night the team just looked, well, desparate. I know teams go through slumps - being a Mavs fan, lord knows I understand that - but where earlier in the year this team was able to pull themselves out of it, these past two games, as well as the BYU game, have been entirely different. I will give you that there were some big abscences against UNM (Tuffy, Ebie), but last night everyone was out there and the team actually got off to a hot start, only to close with their second lowest FG % on the year (low 30s) and tied for the lowest point output (50). Now, SDSU is a better team, no doubt, but when the second worst three point shooting team in the conference jacks up 15-20 per game, what do you expect to happen? This is what I HATED about Neil's teams AS (after Santee) because they allowed Hackett to fire up a three every single time down the court based on one high school game where he absolutely went off, and tried to make 5'5" Ryan Wall a star because of his range. This cannot be allowed to happen. I know the team doesn't have great size, and SDSU had PLENTY of that, but we've got guys like Mitchem, Moss and Buljan who can take the ball to the damn hole on any play and, if they get stopped, have the awareness (well, Moss still has some learning) to pull up for a short jumper or kick it out to Ruzgas for an open shot. Not to mention Kevin Langford is a pretty damned good post player and has had a couple of big games lately. The Mavs are a team who live by the jump shot and, normally, die by the jump shot and look at how deplorable they've been lately. This cannot happen to the Frogs. With a full week to prepare, I expect a big win against Utah next Wednesday night.
- Back to football, because I can't stay away very long, the Jared Retkofsky story is pretty cool. Needless to say the guy hit some tough times immediately following his TCU career and, even if this is the last game he ever snaps in, not many guys can go out saying they got on the field in a Super Bowl. Heck, have any Frogs done it before other than Lilly (didn't he?) Is it going to make me root for his team and their bandwagon, Yinzertrash t- shirt fanbase who make UT fans seem loyal and localized by comparison? Absolutely not, but I hope he doesn't fuck up any snaps and gets a chance with another team next season.
- In other NFL Frog news, I was reading the Dallas Morning News this morning and it was talking about how the Cowboys brought in a bunch of fired AFL players for tryouts this week and, lo and behold, one Brian "Tookie" Bonner was at the top of the list. I wasn't aware that he had been cut in San Diego, although that came as no surprise, but I thought that was pretty awesome that he's out there getting another shot. I hope he makes it, lord knows the Cowboys need some safety help.
And finally, a little anecdote from this morning: My dad was at the Gregg County International (yes, that's what they call it) Airport this morning waiting to get on the company plane and head to Odessa, when he noticed a short, stocky man in the waiting room at the hangar having just gotten off of a plane and waiting to head out on business. He didn't think much of it, but then gave him another glance and noticed that, sure enough, it was the one and only Gary Patterson. This was at about 730 this morning mind you so it was apparent that GP had gotten an early start. So he went up and introduced himself and made a little small talk about the team, mostly about Dick Bumpas as he played college ball with him, but also went so far as to talk about how the Frogs were "one win away" from the BCS this season. I quickly reprimanded him for this brash comment and for rubbing salt in the wound, but that's my old man for you. Fortunately GP took it in stride and laughed it off, but I'm sure under the surface he wanted to snap my dad's neck like he would one of his DBs after a pass interference penalty. Anyway, turns out he was heading over to Marshall along with one of his assistants to meet with some of their junior football players. I just thought everyone would be interested to know that GP, even though he hasn't officially signed his current class to letters of intent, was up early on a Thursday morning catching a plane to East Texas doing the Lords/Frogs work in restocking the pirahna tank. That'll do, GP. That'll do.
Now the Horned Frogs’ ability to recruit is following suit.
With National Signing Day less than a week away, TCU has an incoming class that’s shaping up to be the highest ranked of Gary Patterson’s eight-year tenure as head coach — and it might be the school’s best class in 25 years.
The Horned Frogs’ list of oral commitments includes four four-star recruits as ranked by Rivals.com. In the last eight years combined, TCU has signed just five four-star recruits.
"We’ve always had great football and great academics," Patterson said. "The addition of all the great facilities has now given us something to push us over the edge.
"You can already tell [it has opened more doors] with the coaches and the level of respect."
Mimicking a trend that several bigger programs have benefited from in the past several years, the Frogs have players willing to enroll early to get a head start on their collegiate careers.
For the first time, the Frogs have three football players who graduated from high school in December and already have enrolled at TCU. They had only one player enroll early in recent years — offensive lineman Spencer Thompson two years ago.
Brownwood quarterback Casey Pachall (pronounced "Paw-hall") and Copperas Cove teammates Tanner Brock and Josh Boyce are taking classes and participating in off-season workouts with the Frogs.
Patterson doesn’t persuade players to enroll early because he doesn’t want them to miss out on half of their senior years, but he knows that it takes a special player to be able to leave early.
Pachall, who is rated as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, decided to attend TCU during the spring of his junior year. So he took a summer school class and a full course load the fall of his senior year, shunning the off period that most seniors enjoy.
Pachall said the decision to leave early was easy.
"My thinking was that coming out of high school, I wanted to prepare the best I could and get most acquainted with my teammates and also with the system I’d have here at TCU," Pachall said. "One benefit is getting in shape because the workouts here are very tough. They’ll get you where you want to be."
In addition to the extra time in the weight room and at workouts, enrolling in January is beneficial for academic reasons.
Pachall is taking 15 hours in his first semester. And the transition from high school to college should be easier because there are only about eight hours of football work a week instead of the 20 or so in the fall during football season.
Patterson said that players usually enroll early because they think they have a chance to make an impact in the fall, and Pachall, Brock and Boyce fit into that category.
The Frogs will lose starting linebackers Jason Phillips and Robert Henson to graduation, and Brock, younger brother of sophomore-to-be tight end Logan Brock, has an impressive résumé. He is a three-star recruit who was a three-time first-team all-state linebacker with 693 career tackles.
Boyce, a three-star recruit, is an explosive athlete who could contribute on kick and/or punt returns as well as at wide receiver.
The road will be tougher for Pachall at quarterback because starter Andy Dalton will be a junior and his two backups return. But Patterson said the Frogs might move Marcus Jackson to weak safety to help speed the development of Yogi Gallegos and Pachall.
It’s hard to say if early enrollment will continue at TCU, but if the program sustains its momentum it could be just the beginning.
"I’ve been highly impressed with all three of the guys that are here in the short amount of time I’ve worked with them," Patterson said. "If the rest of the class is like these three, then we ended up with a great class, because these three have been unbelievable."
Facilities: Last fall, the 40,000-square-foot, $13.3 million Dutch Meyer Athletic Complex and Abe Martin Academic Center opened. It includes a team meeting room, a players-only club, six suites, club-level seating, an academic center and a dining area.
Winning: TCU finished the 2008 season 11-2 and ranked No. 7 in the final Associated Press poll, which was the highest ranking for a two-loss team from a non-automatic qualifying conference since the BCS was established for the 1998 season. It was also TCU’s highest final ranking since 1959. The Frogs have had five 10-win seasons in the past seven years.
Coaching: Gary Patterson has entertained other offers in the past, but he’s always stuck with the Frogs. Entering his ninth season at TCU, Patterson is 73-27 and one win shy of second place on TCU’s all-time victory list. And TCU is committed to keeping him around, signing him to a new contract worth $2 million per year through 2014.