Tuesday, January 12, 2010
So does he take the job, if offered? Or does he honor the five-year extension he recently signed with BSU. When you weigh the rumors of possible NCAA sanctions being handed to the Trojans against the very legit national title-contending team the Broncos bring back in 2010, is Southern Cal really that much better of a situation?
A better question is...with Boise as a potential addition to the Mountain West in next few years, do you want Petersen to leave?
Now that we’ve all had a week to digest the Monday Night Meltdown – or, the Lorena Bobbitt game as I like to call it (read: our coaches castrated our offense) – I just wanted to take one last look at a season to remember and also a quick and extremely superficial look at next season to hopefully wash the taste from the bowl game out of our mouths and give us something to hope for. Seriously though, I wrote that recap last week that tried to cast a positive-ish spin on things, but a week later I still can’t get past the run/pass differential. The only thing I’ve been able to come up with is GP, in his infinite knowledge and wisdom, knew that the Florida and USC jobs were going to come available and, rather than have to be the ingrate that tells them “No,” he simply threw the game in order to make himself a less attractive candidate. And if by doing so he caused Chris Peterson to become more attractive and get him out of Boise, then that’s just icing on the cake. But, that’s the last I’ll speak of that game, although probably not the last time I start a sentence with a preposition.
This season opened with extremely heightened expectations and anything less than a BCS Bowl would’ve been deemed unsuccessful so in that regard, high fives all around. It started with a romp in Virginia, continued with slugfests against Clemson and Air Force, and eased into Bowl season with dismantlings of BYU and Utah. The BYU was game sweet because of the implications and media coverage it received and being there in person to shut up those bed wetters was extremely satisfying, but I don’t think anything can compare to the overall atmosphere of the Utah game. Seriously, have you ever had a more glorious day as a TCU fan? We not only got to get revenge on the team who robbed us of a BCS game last season, but it was the moment that the tide officially turned for TCU fan support and maybe the defining moment of the Patterson era. All the bitching, whining and moaning – myself included – about the city, the students and the alumni tucking tail when it came time to actually get out there to support the home team was pounded into the turf along with Utah’s hopes of repeating as a BCS buster and conference champion. Having Gameday on hand for the second TCU game of the season didn’t do too much to hurt the cause, either. Entering the stadium an hour before kick and seeing Amon G in an absolute frenzy should’ve been enough to convince even the most skeptical of TCU fans that, “hey, maybe we really CAN have a home atmosphere like a major conference school.” Seeing us nearly repeat the experience for the season closing New Mexico game – at noon on a holiday weekend, no-less – should silence any and all future doubters. The fact is, TCU Football officially unofficially arrived this year and, although it’s several years too late considering the overwhelming success we’ve had since Franchione arrived in the late 90s, late is better than never anyday.
Lost in the scrum of such a gut wrenching season ending defeat - sorry, mentioned it again - was the fact that the Frogs once again rewrote the school ‘s statistical record books despite the fact that we were rolling the dice with two first time offensive coordinators in Jarrett Anderson and Brian Fuente, not to mention we lost seven starters from last year’s top ranked defense. TCU scored 498 points on the season and racked up nearly 6000 yards of total offense. Leading the charge was your new greatest quarterback in TCU history, Andy Dalton, who passed Max Knake’s career total in passing yards this season with 7,457 and only lags behind him by six TDs for that record. Pretty sure he gets that by about week three next year. Dalton also broke Knake’s single season passing record with 2,756. He’s still tied with Sam Baugh in career wins with 29, but again, with 13 games next season, it’s all but sealed up. To think he’s done this in a run-oriented offense – not to mention running the short side option with Schultz for two years - makes his numbers even more remarkable. He's also missed two games completely due to injury.
Even with Dalton’s record-setting year, we all know this team goes nowhere without the defense, and they too made a mockery of things this year. They finished first in total defense for the second season in a row, only allowing 233.3 yards per game which bested second place, national champion Alabama by 7 yards per game. The Frogs finished third in passing defense and second in run. They also only allowed 12.4 points a game, which was good for sixth place in the country. Leading the charge was two time All-American Jerry Hughes who finished the season with 11.5 sacks. He is the only Frog to merit All America honors twice in his career. Hughes also won the Ted Hendricks and Lott trophies for his effort. Fellow senior Daryl Washington led the team in tackles with 109 on the season and also picked off three passes. Newcomers Wayne Daniels and Tank Carder also left lasting impressions on the Frog faithful and look to make next season’s unit suffer as little dropoff as possible even when you lose two studs like Hughes and Washington.
When you have a team that dominates the in-conference competition like TCU did, you obviously expect the accolades to match the results. In this case, the correlation is nearly flawless. TCU swept the in-conference player of the year awards with Dalton, Hughes and Jeremy Kerley taking the offensive, defensive and special teams player of the year honors, respectively. Overall, the Frogs had nine of the 22 first team conference players and another six on the second team. The Frogs also placed five players in the honorable mention section.
Saving the best for last, though, you can’t have a season like this one without an architect pulling the strings and assembling the pieces, and Gary Patterson has more than outdone himself. If he sticks around through the life of his contract – and all signs point to him doing so at this point – he will easily become the all-time winningest coach in TCU history and if they don’t remove the steeple from the TCU chapel and put a bronzed statue of GP in its place, I’m sure even God himself will have a few words with the administration. GP absolutely cleaned house on the national coach of the year awards, taking home eight total, as well as being the obvious conference coach of the year award winner. Since he started coaching at TCU, the team has finished in the top 25 six times, including three in the top 10, and only had one losing season. GP and his staff finally got real paid this year after several poaching scares and, unless he really feels like he can’t compete for a national title at TCU – a feat he was, as we replay in our minds over and over and over again, 1 second, a stadium railing and 2 feet away from accomplishing this year – I don’t see why he would ever leave. The BCS commissions can pretty much sign his lifetime contract for him with a BCS invite for the MWC in the next couple of years. Long live GP!
When the dust settled, the Frogs finished 12-1 and in sixth place in both polls. They at one point reached third place in the BCS poll which is the highest ever for a non-BCS program. Most importantly, though, TCU, if not stealing the hearts, at least gave a great big kick in the ass to most of America during the last few weeks of the season and even into bowl season as there was a significant cause being fought for us in regards to receiving a shot at the national title. Even though we didn’t get that and ended up losing our bowl game altogether, the strides we helped make this year for the little guys – a cause that was started by Boise State and Utah and looks to pick up a few more teams along the way – make it almost inevitable that, one day, a team like TCU or Boise State will play for the national championship. Even though we lost, in the long run we will have our day. Have no doubts about that.
Now, after waxing Knute Rocke for a bit there, I want to go ahead and take a look at the product we will be putting on the field next season so that we can go ahead and mentally gear up for a repeat of this year’s undefeated run. Overall we lose five starters from this year’s team – two offense, three defense – but, other than the obvious Jerry Hughes, none of these guys seem irreplaceable and, if you have your doubts, just remember the defensive dropoff that was supposed to occur this year before you question the method to GPs madness. Keep in mind, I’m simply going off the depth chart from this year when replacing starters and not taking into account the impact off season training or a hotshot recruit will have on the lineup. A * indicates a returning starter.
QB – Andy Dalton, SR. *
RB – Aundre Dean, SO./Matthew Tucker, SO.
TE – Logan Brock, JR. *
WR – Jimmy Young, SR.*
WR – Jeremy Kerley, SR.*
WR – Antoine Hicks, JR.*
LT – Marcus Cannon, SR.*
LG – Kyle Dooley, SR. *
C – Jake Kirkpatrick, SR.*
RG – Josh Vernon, SR.*
RT – Trevius Jones, SO.
K – Ross Evans, Jr.*
KR – Jeremy Kerley, SR.*, Greg McCoy, JR. *
Maybe I’m missing something here, but where’s the dropoff, exactly? Seven of our nine returning starters are seniors, and we lose no one at the skill positions – or at least no one that we can’t replace. Sure, Marshall Newhouse was outstanding as a left tackle and even Sandra Bullock knows you can’t underestimate the importance of a left tackle, but Marcus Cannon has been All-Conference both of his years as a starter and should slip into the left tackle role fine. The fact that he’s built like a nuclear turducken also doesn’t hurt his cause. Then again, does he even move to left tackle? I’m just assuming he must as he’s the most experienced tackle we have since Newhouse and Richmond are both leaving. On the Trevius Jones call, I’m not sure if he necessarily fits in, but there aren’t too many other options. Does Blaise Foltz move over from guard? Does a young guy like Maud Squadder James Dunbar or Eric Tausch emerge? We’ll find out in training camp, but Jones is the oldest and biggest of those guys, so I’m going with him for now.
Losing a guy like Joseph Turner obviously hurts, but, just in case you need a reminder, we don’t exactly have a lack of playmakers at the running back position. Calling it an “embarrassment of riches” would be kind of like referring to the Titanic as having a “minor accident”. Unlike some of you guys, I probably don’t keep up with or have access to a lot of the inside information, such as Waymon James getting his JaMarcus Russell on or Dean maybe switching to defense, so I’m just going on my gut here. However, I just don’t see why Dean, one of the top RB recruits in the nation two years ago, would transfer to TCU unless he was guaranteed a spot playing RB, and likely a starter at that. There’s just no way. I list two guys here because obviously we never have one dominant workhorse, and since the word seems to be that Ed Wesley will be moving to slot receiver for certain formations, I kept Tucker. Again though, who’s to say what happens in training camp? The specter of Dwight Smith continues to hang over our heads, and the two recruits we just picked up, Ethan Grant and Josh Huff, obviously have the goods to break into the starting lineup much like Tucker did this year. If you don’t believe me, just watch the highlights. Again, those guys didn’t switch their commitments to sit on the bench or play defense. Then there’s James who, if the rumors are true, hasn’t exactly reached his potential due to injuries or maybe attitude, but for all we know he’s a sleeping giant just waiting for a little extra motivation. The bottom line here is, who plays running back next year is the least of our worries.
Now let’s peek in on the defense, where some major holes will need to be filled.
DE – Wayne Daniels, SR. *
DT – Cory Grant, SR.*
DT – Kelly Griffin, SR.*
DE - Braylon Broughton, JR./Ross Forrest, JR./Clarence Leatch, SR.
LB – Tank Carder, JR. *
LB – Tanner Brock, SO.
S – Tejay Johnson, SR. *
S – Tyler Luttrell, SR. */Colin Jones, SR. *
S – Alex Ibiloye, SR. *
CB – Jason Teague, SR.
CB – Greg McCoy, JR.
P – Anson Kelton, JR. *
PR – Jeremy Kerley, SR. *
Alright, so the obvious hole to plug here is the left end where Jerry Hughes most recently filled the role of quarterback harassing sack machine, an honor bestowed upon him by Chase Ortiz. Given, Hughes was an even more solid player than Ortiz by the end of his career, but you’ll recall that we definitely had our doubts about replacing such a solid impact guy two years ago. Now, don’t get me wrong – a guy like Jerry Hughes comes around about once a decade. We hadn’t seen anyone of his caliber since the Schobel’s left town. Tommy Blake could’ve potentially been that guy – he had the prototypical size to dominate in the NFL – but, we all know the Shakespearian tragedy that was his senior season. Still, having watched his three potential replacements get some time in the rotation this year, you have to feel pretty ok with our chances of making it a three-peat at the top of the standings next year.
My gut reaction is that you keep Daniels at right end, seeing as how that’s all he’s played and switching to the other side of the line isn’t as easy as it sounds, even if he’s the best guy we have and it’s against the weak side of the line. So who tries to replace Jerry? The most likely candidate is probably Ross Forrest and I say this only because he saw some downs in every single game, whereas Leatch played in 12 and Broughton in 11. Still, Leatch definitely has what it takes to take over the starting role and is a senior, so I expect this to be the most highly contested position battle in the off-season. This isn’t to dismiss Braylon Broughton, a hulk of a football player who, if he ever got everything clicking at once, could be an absolute animal rushing the pass. Seriously, both times we rushed the field I ended up next to that guy and he is absolutely ENORMOUS and terrifying. It’s unfortunate he just hasn’t been able to put it together so far. If this is his year though, look out.
As big as losing Jerry Hughes is, losing Daryl Washington is arguably just as big. Fortunately we have an extremely solid player in Tank Carder returning, and even though he will only be a sophomore, I don’t think I have to sell you on Tanner Brock. They probably won’t gain any national recognition as a tandem pre-season, but these two guys will definitely be talked about as the year goes along.
Safety is another strong position as we return all of our major starters from this year, but as we start three of them, it’s an area where we have to have plenty of depth – and we do. Ibiloye and Johnson most likely have their spots locked up, but what about Luttrell and Jones? Jones was the strarter heading into the season, but he was sidelined most of the year by injuries which allowed Luttrell to emerge. I think this position is entirely up for grabs for these guys, and also don’t count out guys like Malcolm Williams and Jurrell Thompson getting into the mix. Regardless, I expect everyone mentioned in this paragraph to see ample playing time next season.
The most glaring position you might notice is that we are having to replace two All-Conference four year starters at cornerback in Nick Sanders and Rafael Priest. For those of you who watched us play this year, however, you’ll know that Jason Teague and Greg McCoy are more than capable of filling their shoes, and will arguably be an upgrade. Not to say that Priest and Sanders weren’t great; they were that and more. I’m just saying, when they were both sidelined by injuries this season, there was no drop off – our pass defense was actually better this season than the last. Seriously, if you want to pick nits, this isn’t the position.
To the naked eye, our offense should be even better than the record setters of the past two years, and our defense should be, if not as great as the past two, at least in the ball park. The good news is we have tons of senior leadership, which, as mentally tough as the team was this year, they should be even moreso next season. You may look at that and think, “Well crap, we sure are losing a lot of major contributors after next season. Could be some lean years ahead” and, you’re right. We lose a LOT of major guys. However, with the way our recent recruiting classes have gone, and with the assembly line Patterson has built in turning above average high school players into excellent college athletes, I think the dropoff is minimal, if any.
But, where does this reasonably leave us for next year? If you read ESPN’s WAY TOO EARLY Top 25, you’ll notice the Frogs came in at 7. This seems fair, but you’ll also notice that Boise came in at 3, and that their major non-conference opponents, Virginia Tech and Oregon State, came in at 6 and 22, respectively. Even if the WAC has another down year –redundant? – and the actual pollsters follow suit, could two quality wins like that be enough to keep Boise ahead of us? This year was obviously a bit of an anomaly with two non-BCS teams playing in a big game, so I don’t expect it to automatically happen again next year. Also to consider – TCU beat Boise in the Poinsettia Bowl two years ago, yet Boise began the season ranked higher. Obviously we jumped them as the schedules worked themselves out, but, with 21 returning starters and the Fiesta Bowl win, I don’t see how the voters don’t start Boise ahead of us. If they manage to knock off Virginia Tech in DC and Oregon State on the road, as well as run the WAC table for a third consecutive year, they’ll be a hard team to not only keep out of the BCS, but out of the MNC.
So is it too early for predictions? Absolutely not. Next year looks to shake out like this – UNM will be up, because where else are they going to go?; same for CSU. UNLV will have to integrate a new coach and system. Wyoming will be better and will be in the B tier right below us, BYU and Utah. BYU will be breaking in a new quarterback, but Utah will be much better, and perhaps the conference front runner. Air Force will be Air Force – always a tough win. San Diego State, in year two under Brady Hoke, should be better as well. Other than perhaps New Mexico, there will be no gimme games next year by any means, although it helps that we get the Falcons, Aztecs, Cowboys and Cougars at home.
For non-conference, we’re already set with SMU who is markedly improved and will be fired up to finally beat us in a game where we aren’t asleep, and Baylor will be returning stud QB Robert Griffin who will try his damndest to finally get the Bears back into bowl contention, not to mention overcome Baylor’s massive inferiority complex with the Frogs. The big outlier is the proposed Oregon State matchup. I think we are going to be a better team that the Beavers, and we will surely have the homefield advantage, but you have to worry about playing in Jerryworld on ESPN and the team getting the same deer-in-the-headlights look they had in Glendale. And if the OSU game falls through, Tech will be right there, angry and waiting with Tommy Tuberville looking to make a big splash in his first year under the headset. I assume we fill in the last OOC game with a scrub like SFA or Texas State, guaranteeing a win. So, what do you think? Obviously our hardest game will be in Salt Lake City, but, with four of our five hardest conference foes at home, does anyone see any reason why the Frogs can’t make it two years in a row undefeated? And what if Boise stumbles against Virginia Tech in DC, OU returns to their UT beating ways, and Alabama and Florida get cannibalized in the SEC? The forward pass used to be forward thinking witchcraft; perhaps it isn’t so forward thinking for the Frogs to play in the Big One?
In the meantime, as you let that idea roll around in your head, we’ll move on from football season for a bit and focus on the the winter sports schedule. We won’t be as up to date as Purple Menace on recruiting, but we will keep you informed as information arises, and will surely have massive signing day coverage. Until then though, get ready for the “other football team” which suits up in the next few weeks on the diamond, lower your expectations for men’s bball and/or become a women’s bball fan, and, if you see any recruits on campus, show them where the white women at – with a female student body like the one at TCU, they shouldn’t be too hard to find. Go Frogs!
According to espn.com's Bruce Feldman:
Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio is staying in Jacksonville, according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King. And USC's rumored second choice, Oregon AD and former coach Mike Bellotti, is probably not ready to coach again after undergoing double-knee replacement surgery. Already, USC tried to get Oregon State coach Mike Riley but he signed a three-year extension with Oregon State.
So now what for USC?
ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reports that USC and former 49ers and Lions head coach Steve Mariucci could continue conversations regarding the job. Two league sources tell Schefter that the two sides have had contact in recent days and that, as USC's list dwindles, his chances increase. Mariucci has also coached at Cal-Berkeley, and though he's working for the NFL Network right now, he has expressed interest in returning to coaching.
If USC is still looking for guys with Trojan ties, they may finally call up Washington coach Steve Sarkisian, who worked under Pete Carroll at USC as the offensive assistant head coach. Another possibility is former USC offensive coordinator and current Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin.
But USC might finally look in the mid-major ranks, as well, and call up Boise State coach Chris Petersen. He is becoming a hot name, even though he recently signed a five-year deal. He's a West coast guy, so he knows the recruiting turf well, but he isn't nearly as experienced as some of the other candidates. Also, TCU's Gary Patterson may also be a target, but Patterson has not been contacted by USC and he signed an extension through 2016. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham has interest in the job but is not considered to be a candidate at this time. These extensions -- Patterson's and Petersen's -- won't stop either of these guys from jumping at a USC offer. In fact, it'd be surprising if either of these guys turned down USC given the money and stature involved.
If experience is what they want, Herm Edwards could also be a candidate, according to ESPN's Shelley Smith and Chris Mortensen.
Football Outsiders told us yesterday that North Carolina coach Butch Davis would be a good choice (more below), while Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times thinks NFL Hall of Famer James Lofton should be looked at.
We'll update as we hear more.
Hopefully Patterson won't jump on a chance to become the next coach of a team that is about to get some serious penalties on their athletics. Lets hope this vacancy fills quick so we can stop worrying until next season.
The first three conference games (the home win vs. Air Force, Saturday's debacle in Salt Lake and tonight against the doo-doo brown Cowboys) are all against the only three teams who rank below TCU in the RPI. The conference's other five teams all rank in the Top 100 nationally. That means that after tonight, when the Frogs are 6.5-point favorites against Wyoming, they'll be overwhelming underdogs for the next five conference games, with a should-be OOC win against Texas-Pan American slipped in there.
Hate to be so pessimistic, but if you like seeing our team with their head above the .500 line, tonight might be your best shot to see it in person (it should be noted that I would LOVE to have to eat my words later on this season). Tip-off at the DMC is 6:30, and as Brian Estridge said, it's "almost on TV", so if you have The Mtn you can watch from home.
TCU basketball preview Star-Telegram
Purple Reign TCU Magazine
-In case you haven't seen the recent TCU Magazine be sure to check out Dan Jenkins' Purple Reign. We are incredibly fortunate to have him as an alum
Frogs prepare for home conference showdown versus Wyoming GoFrogs.com
Winkler earns invite to 2010 national team trials GoFrogs.com
Q&A: Patterson thanks fans for a great season Daily Skiff
UW searches for road wins Casper Star-Tribune
Pokes get first test on the road Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
MWC earns third ESPN College Cup KSL-TV