In yet another case of Christmas coming early, the 2010 Football Schedule was released yesterday just in time for the Spring Game. Apparently my September 5th schedule release prediction was a bit pessimistic. Now the only thing left, other than sending it over to the wife to let her know which weekends I will be mentally unavailable this year, is to pick it apart, laud some aspects and bitch about others.
But first, let’s take a walk down memory lane to a post by our very own lyle lanley re: 2010 schedule wish list and see how everything came together.
1) For it to freaking come out already. A. Well, check and mate on that one. It may have been a little later than last season - March 26th - but hey, it's here, and it least we didn't have to wait until April. Looks like lt4heisman was the closest with his asshole-esque $1 over bid of lyle, but hey, winner still gets nothing.
2) No 1AA/FCS Games. F+. While this one didn’t exactly work out for the Frogs, I suppose the bright side is that it’ll be a nice filler game between the opener versus Oregon State and the game against Baylor. While an off week might be preferable between these two games, a week two off week really does little for a team as far as benefiting fatigue and injury, and if we need an off week to prepare for Baylor, then perhaps we shouldn’t have such high expectations for our season after all. Besides, we typically put a pretty solid bitch slapping on the little guys – Armadillos by 35 last year, STDU by 60 two years ago – so it’s kind of like having an off-week anyway, right?
3) No weeknight games. B+. Technically yes, although the SMU game being on a Friday will surely cause some tailgating and attendance turmoil for our out of town fans. If you’re afraid to ask your boss for a half day and opt to watch the game on ESPN in order to avoid controversy, then turn in your season tickets and stay in the parking lot all season because if you're too afraid to risk the respect of your boss, then you're not ready for this kind of fan commitment. If your boss doesn’t understand the importance of taking a half day so you can get blind drunk and verbally abuse coke heads from the east coast while your team coasts to victory, find a new job. You’re welcome for the advice.
4) An Actual Off-week. C+. Unlike the past two seasons where the team had a fake off week – opening weekend last year, closing weekend in 2008 – this year there’s at least a semblance of an off-week for TCU, although it falls during the second to last weekend of the season. The scheduling could be better – preferably I’d like to see it falling between the BYU and Air Force games as that is a very difficult back to back. But, at least those two games are at home and we won't be battling travel fatigue, so after the Utah game is probably the next best thing. The game against the Utes is going to be a very physically and mentally trying road contest so I’m glad we get a chance to catch a breather for a weekend between that game and the following - a road game at New Mexico.
5) No home game on Thanksgiving weekend. A+. This year’s game against New Mexico – a game which will be our season closer for the foreseeable future – will still be played on Thanksgiving weekend, but this time on the road. While the date had no direct correlation on attendance last season, we can’t reasonably expect the Frogs to be undefeated heading into this game every single year, thus prompting a sell-out, although hopefully we can sell out more of our home games regardless of the record this year. Still, this season we will not have to worry about it, so for those of you who get family-trapped during Thanksgiving every year such as myself, this is great news.
6) No home game on Texas/OU weekend. A+. The Frogs will be on the road facing Colorado State during the weekend of October 2nd, so for our diarrhea orange inclined fans, this should pose little conflict unless you want to physically attend both games. Still, for those who wish to catch the game in Dallas, and why you'd want to subject yourself to those two asshole fan bases for 3 hours is beyond me, here’s to hoping that the timing works out as it did last year with that game being played at 11:30. Our game is scheduled for 1:30.
7) An easy transition into conference play. B+. While Wyoming is rapidly improving under Head Coach Dave Christensen, pulling out a bowl win in his first season, you could still classify Wyoming as one of the “have nots” in the MWC. Whereas Colorado State, UNLV or New Mexico would probably be considered easier competition than the Cowboys, I'd rather not open up with a conference road game, which happens to be where we play each of those three teams. Our other three conference home games are against San Diego State, Air Force and BYU, so it's probably a toss up between wanting to face SDSU or Wyoming in the opener. I'd probably lean towards playing SDSU as they've never beaten us in conference play, but choosing between the two schools is pretty negligible. The schedulers did a decent enough job on this account.
8) All home games at night. D-. This is probably the thing that stuck out most to me. Of our six home games, four will be played prior to 4PM. This is probably the biggest double edged sword of our current TV arrangement. Where night games are obviously preferable for us as fans in regards to be able to put in a full day of tailgating, most of the bigger college football matchups fall in the middle of the day, thus this is where the networks fill their schedules. On the bright side, earlier games are friendlier to our fans that have families as they can catch a game and still be home in time for dinner. On the negative side, its balls hot in Texas until late October, so playing three of our four day games during the first two months of the season in the boiling sun will be a bit of a hindrance. Still, if it potentially means more fans and more television exposure, I suppose we have to take what we’re given.
9) TCU @ UNLV Halloween weekend. A+. Oh. Oh my goodness. I was unable to attend the UNLV game two years ago during Halloween weekend in Vegas, but after witnessing the aftermath of those who did, I’ll be damned if I miss it this year. This is a road trip every student body at every other school in the country would kill to have.
10) No chances for a blizzard. A-. Given that the weather can change at the drop of a hat in this country, and also that I’m no weatherman, I can only give face value predictions on this account. But, with the Air Force and Wyoming games being in Fort Worth, and the Colorado State game falling on October 2nd, I think we can safely assume that the Frogs will have no trouble with weather this year. The Utah game is definitely one to keep an eye on, and we all remember the game in Fort Collins two years ago – it fell a week later during the schedule – but let’s just hope and pray the winter doesn’t kick in until October 3rd this year. But still, with snow falling in the metroplex in March, there’s no telling what El Nino could have in store for us at Amon G this season.
So, for the most part the schedule works out pretty favorably for us, other than night games and IAA games. However, there are a few more things I wanted to note:
Seven of our first eight games will be played in DFW. While I’ve certainly fired myself up for the prospect of having eight “home” games this year, having seven of them come over the first half of the season is something I’m sure none of us bargained for. While I love the fact that I can for sure witness eight games in person while only using my car – WWHD, bet your pocketbook wishes you’d chosen this year to make your Frogrimmage? – I kind of fear a little bit for the safety and health of my liver during the months of September and October. Nearly eight solid weeks of Monday fear at work this fall will certainly require a few sick days.
Uneven home/away scheduling. If you look at our schedule, five of our six home games will be played before the month of October ends, which means Gameday season almost officially ends before Halloween. Despite the lack of a bye week last year, I thoroughly enjoyed having all of our home games fall on alternating weekends, therefore giving my body a bit of a break between alcohol slaughterings. Plus, having a full week to regroup meant the excitement was built up that much more between home games. Not that I won’t be excited about game day this year – that Wyoming/BYU/Air Force triple entente promises to be absolutely epic – but it was kind of nice to know that there would be a weekend between each game to relax. But that's just picking nits now isn't it?
Eleven televised games. Looks like the TV execs have finally taken notice of little ole TCU! This is arguably the biggest development of the schedule and pretty much negates all the negative aspects we can find. Now that Versus and DirecTV have cleared up their mess, subscribers to their service will have access to every single Frogs game that is on television this year, which is huge for our exposure. And, as an added bonus to our non-DTV fans, only one game – Colorado State – will be played on the Mtn, so you can watch just about every road game and game replay from the comfort of your own home. Despite bitching about our TV contract on a lot of fronts, having eleven of your twelve games on national television is never a bad thing, especially when you can do so without having any midweek games. Topping it off, we have two ESPN games that, as I said, we didn’t even have to schedule on a weeknight. While the SMU game may not be a huge national draw, I don’t think any of us can comprehend how big having the Oregon State game in ESPN’s Saturday primetime slot on opening weekend will be for us. Think about how big the same game was for BYU last year. They were national title contenders after that weekend thanks to everyone who saw it. And while I can’t discount the fact that a lot of people tuned in simply to get their first peak at Jerryworld, the fact that it’s football, it’s on, and its ESPN will be good for a few million viewers on its own. If we’re going to screw up one game all year, this CANNOT be it. Still, us screwing up a game this season? KOOKY TALK!
BYU game not at night. While I don’t necessarily condone ALL the behavior that accompanied the BYU game of two years ago, the bottom line is that was the best home crowd atmosphere I’d ever experienced at TCU up until the Utah game last year. And that was on a Thursday night! Imagine what a Saturday night game against the Cougars could been like?! Unfortunately it isn’t to be this year, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for the TCU faithful not to come out in force. If it means staying in on the Friday night before the game – blasphemy in some circles, I know – then so be it. But we HAVE to make Amon G one big Section X for this one. Liquor stores open at 10AM which should still give everyone plenty of time to get game ready.
Road game before Utah. A similar scenario to 2008 where we play a late one in Vegas, then turn back around and head to Utah the following week. This was maybe the biggest thing that was overlooked on the 2010 wish list, but there’s nothing to do about it now. TCU looked fine for three and a half quarters then, but the mental and physical fatigue really took its toll on that last, fateful drive up in Salt Lake as we remember all too well. But, that game was on a Thursday night, so with a full week of rest, this shouldn’t be as big of an issue. This team should be much more solid than that one, and Andy Dalton is going to prove all of his “big game” doubters SO wrong this year, so this issue will hopefully resolve itself. Still, I’m counting on some sleepless nights that week.
Other than that though, there’s not a whole lot that jumps out at me. The first eight weeks of the season are going to be tough with Oregon State, Baylor, BYU and, dare I say, SMU and Air Force on the slate. But, with a home game or local road game preceding each one of those, not to mention a full week to prepare for all but SMU, we should be in as good of shape as we can be for victories. If we can make it to Salt Lake City on November 6th with a 9-0 record, a second consecutive conference championship and BCS berth will likely be on the line for the Frogs and, if Jordan Wynn develops as he should, perhaps for the Utes as well. I’m not calling for another undefeated regular season, but the schedule actually sets up pretty nicely for that to happen. Now, it’s up to GP and the gang to make a prophet out of me.
Is it football season yet…